I arrived in HK yesterday, around 3pm, pretty jetlagged. The view of the city from the airplane was absolutely incredible. The city looks to be 4 times the size of Manhatten. After arriving at the airport, going through customs, and collecting my bag, I took the MTR train to Kowloon station, right in the middle of the city. After a small bit of searching, I found the place where I was staying, but they then led me out of the building and a few blocks down the street. This is the part where I realized that I made a mistake. I packed way too much. I had to carry my enormous Columbia bag down 3 or 4 blocks, following the short Chinese woman leading me to the other building where my room was. Hulking this 80lb bag around, along with my backpack and camera bag, combined with the hot sun and the jacket I was wearing (Japan was cold) made me sweat profusely. I got a lot of weird looks, lumbering down the street with my giant bag through huge crowds of people. When I finally arrived we took the elevator to the 8th floor and I was led to my room which is small and pretty spare. It has a dresser, a cabinet, a small TV, and a small bed. My feet stick off the bed pretty far. Connected directly to the room is a bathroom which has a showerhead sticking out the side of the wall. The floor of the bathroom is shaped so that water runoff goes through a lowered drain in the corner of the room, on the floor. There’s a switch that I have to engage which turns on the water heater and allows me to take hot water showers, otherwise the water is cold. The water heater is made by a German company.
Being as jetlagged and exhausted from the walk as I was, I took a shower and fell asleep. I woke up at 3am wide awake. Without much hesitation, I went to the street with my camera bag and tripod and got to taking some photos. The city in the middle of the night is extremely photogenic. I found a lot of dark alleys that were great photo subjects, not to mention some pretty large desolate streets which are bustling with activity during the day. The streets were pretty empty, but there was the ocassionally person about to stare at me with my camera atop the tripod. After walking around on surface streets for about an hour I found a stairwell going up the side of a large building, and I climbed it thinking that I could get some good shots from higher ground. As I got up to about the 5th floor where I couldn’t go up anymore, it turned out to be some kind of wash room facility. I took a bunch of photos up there until someone arrived and told me to leave. I took a few photos on the way back and had a small struggle finding my way back to where I had came from, but I made it back and processed the images I had taken and arranged them into a webpage for about 3 hours, until the sun came up. Exhausted from that, I fell back asleep only to wake again at 3pm.
I called Elaine last night and spoke to her, she was with Jason and they were in some town outside of Shanghai. She said that they would be returning to HK the next evening and that I should give them a call. They should be back in 3-4 hours, I’ll try to get in touch and see if we can’t hang out and check out some sites together. I’m sure that Jason is as lost here as I am, except he has some native guides. I called Candace also, pretty much as soon as I arrived here. I said I would take a shower and call her back in an hour, which I did, but when she didn’t answer I fell asleep.
I think I’ll go to Mong Kok today before I get in touch with Jason, which is just a few stops down the subway. It’s evidently one of the larger street vendor locations in the city, and it was recommended to me by several people. I’m not sure if I should bring my laptop or my camera bag, because I don’t think it’s practical to bring both. Because I didn’t have internet in my hotel in Japan, I haven’t been online since Thursday evening in Los Angeles. I’d like to get in touch with at least my mother to let her know that I’m okay, but then again I’d like to get some more photos as well. I think I’ll bring my backpack with the laptop. I also need to find out where I can get a visa for mainland China. I’m checking out of this place in 4 nights and I’m sure that Matthew is wondering when I arrive in Chengdu. I’m looking forward to getting there and not spending a boatload of cash. I cannot believe how expensive this city is. I exchanged $400 USD into $3,000 HKD, which I spent $2,200 of on my room for 5 nights! Unbelievably expensive. To say that Chengdu should be dramatically cheaper is probably a vast understatement.
I wrote a few postcards that I got in Japan on the flight from Narita to HK, maybe today I’ll get the opportunity to find a place to send them off. I better get going, I don’t want to waste the few hours of daylight that I have left.