“Let Us Jet-Set, We’ll Be Like the Jetsons”

I definitely have to tip my hat to anyone who has to travel for work, domestic or international. The constant on-the-go feeling is quite an adrenaline rush, but it also takes a lot out of you. It at least took a lot out of me for two days after my one day trip to Hong Kong. One may ask, “Now Martha dear, what are you doing in Hong Kong for such a short period of time?” Yes, it does sound like a whirlwind type of adventure and quite unbelievable. Since I can only stay in China for 90 days at a time, I have to make a quick jump out of the country for a couple of days. The last time I left the country was during my unforgettable trip to Cambodia. My 4 hour trip to Hong Kong was much shorter than my ten day excursion throughout the endless street food and sites at Angkor Wat, but it was still extremely memorable.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a book that I should have been reading during my weekend trip, since I took all of those types of transportation to arrive and depart from Hong Kong. My day started bright and early around 4:45am in Kunming, after taking the 5 hour bus ride from Dali to Kunming the night before. The only thing that I really needed to bring with me was my passport and some money, so before I left my hotel room I quadruple checked to make sure it was there. As I tried to leave the hostel, the guard on duty thought I needed to check out. In my broken Chinese and his minimal English, our conversation lasted a lot longer than it should have. He didn’t understand why I was heading to the airport so early and how I would be arriving back at the hostel later that night. “Oh, I’m just going to Hong Kong!” I said with a smile, trying to act like this is normal to be flying to and from Hong Kong in one day. I think he was more tempted to crawl back into bed rather than to pester me with more questions about my travels, so he unlocked the door and off I skipped, down the stairs.

Saturday morning in Kunming brought a brisk chill as I hailed a taxi and drove to the airport. Even at 5:30am, my adrenaline was already pumping through my veins and I was ready for another adventure. Pulling only a small carry-on behind me, I was easily slipping through security lines with no problem. Once I was on the flight to Shenzhen, I could breathe a little bit and relax, but I still knew that only one-fourth of my traveling for the day was complete. The other three-fourths were going to be a little trickier than what I was expecting. As the commuter bus from Shenzhen to Hong Kong dropped us off at immigration, I was expecting single file lines and to float through customs like a summer breeze. Then I remembered I was still in China, and formal queued lines were basically “out of sight, out of mind.” At first, I saw a thick snake-like line, crawling toward the pearly white gates of customs and border control. Once the gate was packed with people, it closed behind us, which locked us into the confined area for at least 15 minutes. Yes, I think you are all thinking what I’m about to say. It was if we were a bunch of cattle. Moo. But well dressed cattle, may I add. Women were dressed in chocolate brown velvet leggings and tutu like skirts that would make any 5 year old girl jealous.

When I finally reached the immigration line, I was swimming in a sea of Chinese nationals, who were skipping lines and even standing in the “Foreigner Only” line. Stamp. Stamp. My first step of leaving China was passed with no worries. Then I stepped into another line and saw the sign that welcomed me into Hong Kong. Once my departure cards were accepted, I jumped on the next bus to bring me into the heart of the city where my friend, Nicola was waiting for me. I checked my watch and it told me that I had only 15 minutes to be on time to meet with Nicola. Suddenly, my heart began to race and in my mind I was trying to will the bus to drive faster. With no control over the bus driver’s detours and his speed, I finally decided to sit back and enjoy the bus ride through the winding streets of Hong Kong. A nice gentleman, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, was telling me all about his city. Along the ride he would point out the new airport being built, or the largest skyscraper in the city, or how I should eat the legendary dim sum. His carefree attitude and laid back tour guiding set me at ease and within one hour I was greeted by my friend, Nicola.

We greeted each other with a big hug and quickly jumped into a red and white taxi with an advertisement bragging that it seats five people. The back seat of the taxi was enormous and as our driver sped off to Hollywood Road, we were flying from one side to another. Just like in mainland China, there are no seat belts for the ones in the back seat! We had a lovely brunch with Nicola’s family, where we were served fresh salmon eggs benedict and Prosecco. With amazing food in our stomachs to sustain us for mini-adventures before hopping back on the plane, we set off to the sea. As we descended the the stairs to reach the Star Ferry, we passed the commuter escalator. Yes, let me repeat, a commuter escalator. I was told that it is the longest escalator in the world! In the mornings, the escalator starts at the highest point of the island and makes its way down to the sea where many of the businesses are located. Starting the afternoons, the commuters can catch the same escalator, which climbs back up the hill. Nicola and I had a great time riding the Star Ferry back and forth, taking pictures with pandas, and enjoying the afternoon sun.

The day was a complete whirlwind and it felt like in a blink of an eye, I was back on the plane to Kunming. Hong Kong in one day is easier said than done and hopefully in the future I will be able to spend more time there. The vast contrasts between Xizhou’s countryside to Hong Kong’s business district was more than I could handle at times, but I am grateful to have seen both lifestyles. Just like I am extremely grateful to have lived and experienced life in China for almost two years, but it will taste so sweet once I step back on comfortable Door County soil.