As an international student, I have had friends come and go, so I inevitably miss people. Now as a high school graduate three weeks into college, I have many more people to miss! My friends and I are dispersed around the world, each of us starting a new chapter of our lives. Whenever homesickness starts feeling unbearable, I'll just remember this quote and be excited about how I'll feel when I finally get to meet them again. (like that amazing feeling you get when you pee after holding it in for awhile...)
All throughout high school I dreamed about the senior trip, because I have never gone on vacation with friends before--I've only ever gone with my family friends or with just my family. I pictured going somewhere exotic like Bali or somewhere dreamy like Paris, so when my friends and I first decided that we should have our senior trip in Hong Kong after considering expenses, itinerary, and where our parents would let us go, I must admit that I was slightly, slightly disappointed. I mean, couldn't our trip at least be outside of China? (Sorry to those people who don't consider Hong Kong to be a part of China, but you kinda know what I'm getting at, right?)
After getting used to the idea of Hong Kong, I started getting really excited. Five whole days and four whole nights with three of my most favorite people in the world! Due to our vague familiarity with the area, we'd be able to figure out public transportation, get around quickly, and have the ability to communicate with locals lest we need directions. Also, Hong Kong has an abundance of food and places to shop--what more do you need?
For reasons I don't quite need to get into, Anny and I caught an early flight to Hong Kong while Courtney and Jolie caught a later one. We were nervous about traveling without Jolie, because she was the person who planned out our trip (thank you, thank you, thank you!) and was the only one who knew her way around Hong Kong (she's Canto). I was extra nervous, because it was my first time traveling without my parents or a school chaperone. However, I had no need to worry, because Jolie texted, Skyped, and WeChat-ed both Anny and me rather descriptive instructions:
Baggage claim, then enter arrivals
Cross the width of the arrival hall (go straight/follow signs) to Airport Express
You will end up in a hallway with glass walls and sloped floors. Go up the steps towards the train.
The train platform has a blue and round ticket counter. There is only one. Get in line and buy a ticket package for 2 persons, approx. 150HKD. Keep the tickets safe.
Take the train towards HONG KONG (as in Hong Kong Island). Do NOT take the train to Asia WorldExpo, that is the opposite direction.
Enjoy. The ride takes approx. 30 min. Hong Kong is the last stop. There are cool graphics on the wall to show the progress and everything. When you get off, you will end up directly in the basement of IFC (the HQ!). Swipe your ticket to get out.
Follow signs to taxi stop. You should not have to go up and down escalators, it should be on the same floor. Again, signs are helpful. Also, ppl speak Eng and Mandarin, so no worries.
There may or may not be a line for taxis. Here is hotel address: 上环宜必思酒店。德辅导西28号。
Talk to the concierge and say that you guys will be checking in later at around 6 and want to just leave luggage with concierge.
You made it!! Take a taxi back to IFC but use Chinese (国际金融中心). Hang out and chill until we get there. There is sushi somewhere, and also froyo next to the supermarket, and the movie theater is across Zara (watch Maleficent or something if you want, but wait for us for TFIOS!) We won't be long. If you're feeling adventurous go explore Central by leaving through the large space by Godiva.
Meet us back at hotel at 6:30. Since we won't really have phones that work with yours, this is super important!!! No matter what happens, hotel at 6:30!!
Anny and I were on time--early even!--but Courtney and Jolie ended up being 30 minutes late, due to flight delay(?) and traffic. IN THEIR FACE! Humph, they shoulda trusted us more hahah
Anny and I were given those instructions the night before our departure, but of course we ignored that whole block of text (you probably ignored it just then too--caught in the act!) until we landed in Hong Kong. We realized that it didn't make much sense to arrive at IFC off the Airport Express, drop off our luggage at the hotel, just to go back to IFC, so we found a "Left Baggage" place at IFC to leave our baggage until we needed to leave at 6:15 to meet Courtney and Jolie at 6:30. We were very proud of ourselves for figuring that out and evading additional transportation costs. Jolie claimed that she knew about the Left Baggage place too, but didn't know if we could find it, and so didn't include it in her instructions. Should we believe her?
As Jolie suggested, we ended up watching Maleficent. I know many people didn't like it, but I personally thought that it was amazing! At first, I was skeptical about the casting of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, because I'm so used to seeing Angelina Jolie in action films, but Maleficent is the antagonist in the fairytaleSleeping Beauty. As the film progressed, I was pleasantly surprised. The only part I thought that could have been improved is when / spoiler alert (maybe?) / Maleficent acted so aggressively towards the Humans when they first approached the Moors with the intention to attack. Specifically, her voice was too aggressive, imho. I understand that the Faeries and the Humans have this whole rivalry thing going on, but Maleficent was portrayed as such a gentle yet powerful but compassionate being throughout her childhood and young adulthood, and she didn't have any exceptionally traumatic experiences yet to spur such a change in character. In that scene, I think her voice should have remained calm, but still retain that sense of empowerment. A better point in the film to start exhibiting that aggressive voice would have been after Stefan burned off her wings. / end spoiler / I was so into the movie that I only ate a third of my caramel popcorn.
After watching Maleficent, we didn't really know what else to do at IFC. Everything is REALLY expensive, and my dad only gave me just enough money for five days (my mom always gives me more than enough, but she left for a business trip earlier in the week). I couldn't help but feel misplaced walking in the sea of suited up businessmen at IFC, as I was still wearing my travel outfit, which I don't think even deserves to be called an outfit. We stopped by Yo Mama, a froyo store that we later designated our HQ inside our HQ (IFC), and Zara, which were the only semi-affordable places at IFC, but we still had two and a half hours to kill. We tried to find a place to sit and finally saw an empty table that belonged to a cafe, so we decided to order something there. I figured the cost of an expensive dessert would be worth a seat and a subject to photograph.
Anny has been begging Jolie to take us for dimsum, so that's where we headed for breakfast. We wanted "authentic" dimsum and to have a whole "cultural experience," which Jolie ensured we would have. We didn't know that that meant going to a communal restaurant! When we arrived, we were placed at a table with a random man. If Courtney had come, we would have had a full table to ourselves, but Courtney slept in. Typical. Anyways, the man sitting with us kept laughing at how we ate our food, but I'd like to have him know that it's very difficult to split two massive dumplings amongst three people. As the meal progressed, we decided to only get baskets that had three items in them to make it easier to split.
Following breakfast, we made our way to The Peak for lunch at Tsui Wah Restaurant. A day of eating and eating and eating. Just my kind of sport! Happy Lab caught our eye; jelly beans were packaged in test tubes, and every six test tubes came with a test tube rack! As this store was just getting started, they offered many samples. I sampled so many that my tongue started feeling tingly. They also sold other candies, such as 100% smooth Belgian milk chocolate with a moustache on a stick. Everything was really cute, and while it wasn't the cheapest thing, compared to what we saw at IFC, these jelly beans were greatly affordable. So of course, I bought a test tube rack worth of jelly beans; cranberry and apple, raspberry jam, cola, apple sour, grape, pina colada. One test tube costs 28HKD, and unfortunately, there is no discount if you buy a whole rack, but at least you get a free rack, right?
Of course, the munchies didn't stop there. We also had bubble milk tea, purple rice, and a grass jelly, mango, pomelo, sago dessert. And then we headed over to dinner at Pepper Lunch (after shopping). SO GOOD. The best fast food I've ever eaten. And then more dessert.
We took a tram on our way back and had an interesting encounter with another female tourist. When you're on public transportation, you tend to want to sit with the people you're traveling with, but as is the case with all public transportation, it can get a little crowded, so that might not always be possible, but as people trickle off at their stops, you can start migrating together. What happened was that the four of us kept jumping around seats trying to do that, and a random female tourist (she was older (40s?50s?), but very pretty and smile-y) joined in and helped us out.
Jolie kept begging us to take the ferry, but we were too tired to oblige. We opted to check out the market at central, which is composed of many shops and stalls squished tightly together along an endless row of stone stairs. There was a milk tea stall and some snack shops, but the market was mostly like a farmers market, selling fresh ingredients. We didn't have a kitchen in our hotel room, and we would much rather eat street food than our own concoctions, so after getting a few snaps, we started heading over to the Hong Kong island ferry without buying anything.
When we arrived at TST, we headed straight into the aid conditioned mall, treated ourselves to macarons from Dalloyao Paris, and flopped on the beds at Muji. And then went ice skating. Jolie had been asking us for days if we wanted to go ice skating, but we didn't want to, because none of us remembered how to ice skate, and it was just too random to go ice skating in Hong Kong. I mean, what are you doing at an ice skating rink over the summer when you have the beach?!
But as soon as we saw the ice rink, Courtney and Jolie were determined to go ice skating. They weren't dressed for it, so we headed over to H&M to buy pants/leggings and socks. I originally didn't want to go ice skating, but seeing as this was our last day in Hong Kong all together (Jolie would be leaving us early), I thought I might as well spend time with them. A cheap entrance fee for the rink was all the convincing I needed.
It turns out that we really were quite terrible ice skaters. Courtney got the hang of it pretty quickly. Jolie kind of got it towards the end. It was a lot of fun. Trial and error. Sometimes we found ourselves just standing there watching the little kids skate around us in circles like pros.
Finally it was time to take the MTR back to our hotel, but not before making a pit stop at IFC. It turns out that there's a discount for the froyo at Yo Mama after a certain time (buy one, get second 50% off), so we sat there, resting our feet, waiting for the time to tick by until we could get our discounted froyo, because, obviously, the best way to start and end a day is with froyo!
But actually, we stayed up late watching videos on the Internet.
After three days in Hong Kong with my best friends, some more fabulous people who also had their senior trip in Hong Kong arrived, so we merged. The more the merrier! We had dimsum (at a fancy, non-communal place), made another trip to Yo Mama, treated ourselves to some mango-y goodness at Hui Lau Shan, and had an intense chilling session, wrapped up in blankets watching MasterChef. In the late afternoon, we met up with Christabel who took us to some cute shops like Typo, which was located behind Cotton On, and in the evening we met up with everyone for dinner, followed by liquid nitrogen ice cream at Lab Made.
Then we got our Tourists on, trooping through the Peninsula Hotel and having fun at the harbor.
At the end of the trip, I had spent all my money except for some spare bits of change, so I gave what was left of it to Courtney, and she bought me stuff for the rest of the day. Being the good friend I am, I only exploited her a teensy bit, making her buy me chocolate stuffed puffs from Muji. And froyo.
We needed to catch the 5:00PM flight, but due to heavy rain in Beijing, our flight was delayed until 8:30PM. We were texting our parents in the airport, because they were being parents and worrying about us and stuff. Courtney's mom told her that her dad's flight was also delayed due to the rain, but he was already in the air so his plane was just hovering. But everyone made it back safe and sound!
I had an amazing five days in Hong Kong with the best people! Thank you for putting up will all my amateur photography and forcing you guys to not eat your food until after I got a picture. Your skills at hand modeling have greatly improved. I wish us the best of luck in college, and we're definitely going to have to fly over and meet each other during the holidays! I'm going to miss you tons :( I already do!