And so we come to the last section of our five-part Hong Kong miniseries. It's been great having you along for the ride but please put your seats in the upright position and restore your tray tables. And since planes seem to keep on flying another half an hour after these useless announcements, I'm just going to keep on writing.
On our second to last day Elliot went to to explore one of the islands near Hong Kong. He'd wanted to rent a bike and ride around and had planned on it since way before the trip so I said he should just go for it. Since I felt like hell, and not on high heels like the subject of the eponymous Motley Crue song, I decided it was time for more relaxation. I went off to find out exactly what foot reflexology entailed. According to Wikipedia, reflexology is an alternative medicine, complementary, or integrated method of treatment involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet and hand with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body. There were signs ALL OVER the city for it. Complete with neon-lit images of blinking feet. Now, I hate feet. I think they're gross and yucky and just bleh. But, I was willing to push aside my feet prejudices in the name research. Maybe by rubbing a certain area of my foot they could make me not quite so congested. And I really wanted a massage. Maybe one that didn't leave marks.
Our hotel was connected to a bigger one, it was like the satellite branch except they were right next to each other. Good job Hong Kong. So I went to their spa. It was on the bottom floor and made up of a series of rooms connected by short passageways. It was like a very dimly lit labyrinth where people went to get pampered and didn't come back alive. I said I wanted foot reflexology, a massage, and a manicure. I'm a girl, deal with it. They led me to a one person couch that was so comfy. Beaded curtains separated the hallway into partitions that each had a couch. They made makeshift rooms and each "room," had a couch, a table and small TV mounted on the wall. They gave me some tea and then I soaked my feet in warm water. The lady in charge of my treatments asked if I wanted the TV on and I said sure. They gave me little earphones, set the channel to National Geographic where a show about India was starting, then had me lean back and prop my feet up on a footstool.
And then I saw the DO NOT SCREAM sign. I'm not kidding. There was a sign fixed right across from me that read exactly that. Good grief, what did I get myself into?
Bliss. I got myself into bliss. Oh good God, it felt good. I mean, I don't know how "healed" I was, but it definitely felt nice. She rubbed my ankles and massaged my calves (who has knots in their calves? Me, apparently) and just applied the best amount of pressure to ease up my poor little feets. Plus, the show about India was really good. I learned all about cow wranglers. And then came a show about the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101, and I learned all about it. It has a special window-washing system made personally for it.
The reflexology took about an hour after which they graciously asked me if I need to use the bathroom (I did. I drank a lot of green tea) and then led me to the massage chamber where I changed into the same kimono top and shirts the other place had. And then I had the most miserable massage experience of my life. I'm not a hypochondriac or a fussy person. When I'm sick, and I say I'm sick, I am honestly sick. So when I had to lie on my stomach with my head propped on the padded toilet seat thing they have on massage tables for your face, all my mucus drained to the front of my head. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't sniffle without making a lot of noise and I could feel everything dripping. I couldn't even enjoy the massage because I was too busy silently willing my sinuses to cooperate. They didn't. At one point, I had a droplet splash down through the face hole of the massage table onto the ground. I felt so sorry for the poor Chinese lady having to touch the diseased white girl. But bless her she finally gave me tissues and had me rest my head on the side. That didn't work. I got a coughing attack and kept jerking around as she was trying to rub. Finally, she had me on my back and even tried to rub my sinuses but nope, I just felt too gross and too miserable. Thankfully it was over soon but I couldn't even hang my head and make my escape. I had my damn manicure. I was led back to my armchair (DO NOT SCREAM) and it was a different girl and I had the stupid glitter OPI nail polish that took about half an hour for her to remove. Then she basically scythed my cuticles with one blade of the nail scissors as I watched horrified. She left me there, after she was done applying whatever weird chemical-y nail polish she put on me, so my nails could dry but I just paid up and made my escape. It smudged. Thanks Hong Kong :D !
Elliot got back a little after I did and he was sun-burnt and a little let-down, as per Hong Kong usual. There were no bikes but he did get a lot of pictures. We hung out for a little while, got free coffee at the hotel's terrace cafe and then decided to give Indian food anther try. We found a place on the 6th floor of a building in Wan Chai and had a pretty decent meal. Much better than the Indian bazaar where I'm pretty sure I watched a woman agree to certain "services," for a creepy Indian man. I'm not just making this up either. Elliot missed the whole thing but I watched the man come in, talk to the woman (who I think was Malaysian. Definitely not Indian or Chinese), smile as she nodded, leave as she told him to go wait outside because she had food coming, and then come back in and inquire several times as to what was keeping her food to the girl working. When the woman got her food, he escorted her out. Something fishy definitely went on. After dinner we finally made it up to the Peak. It was so dark and the city was so beautifully lit, it was truly a spectacular view. Everyone should see it at some point in their lives. Of course, there was a lame couple making out like they'd never seen tongues before. We yelled, "EWWWW," at them. We are very mature.
It was with a hacking cough and more rib pain that I woke up on our last day. Elliot kept trying to convince me that we needed a doctor but I waved him off. We had presents to buy and bird markets to see. Though, I did get a little apprehensive about going to a Chinese bird market while sick. I mean, I joked about SARS and the bird flu but... we were in China and I had been growing steadily worse for the last ten days. I drank my weight in liquids though and off we went.
Hong Kong has a lot of markets. They have the fruit and vegetable markets set up on the streets during the day on Queen's Road where Elliot and I bought delicious crisp apples and sweet bananas. They have the night markets in Mong kok, the most crowded place on Earth, where they sell everything from vibrators to paintbrush sets to Super Mario figurines (we got them for our friends). They also have the two animal markets where, for once, you don't actually eat the animals. These are the bird market (or gardens as they were called) and the goldfish market. We went to the bird market first. It was this little area that had all sorts of birds in pretty wooden cages. There were African grey parrots I made Elliot take pictures of for my cousin who has one so she can see Gypsy's (that's his name. He's 19) Chinese cousins, and so many little budgies and parakeets. I think I saw some myna birds as well as blue and yellow Macaus, my favorite kind of parrots. It was a little uncomfortable seeing so many birds crammed into the cages though. Elliot is kind of a bleeding heart when it comes to animals, more so than I am, so we didn't really linger.
The goldfish market was amazing. I admit, I was kind of ambivalent about it because let's face it, goldfish are kind of boring. My family has had one goldfish or another in the house since I was a child and they just don't really excite me. Not like turtles, haha. But the market was not so much as a market as one street with all the shops next to each other and they all had rows and rows of plastic bags filled with water and fish on display right outside. Beyond just goldfish there were several other kinds of fish for sale too, including some really weird spotted ones. Of course, there were turtles too. I could've stayed and stared at everything for hours. We saw a little case of bright yellow frogs just swimming about like froggies do. This street also had pet shops and of course, I had to look at them. Elliot's stomach turned at all the kittens and dogs and bunnies on display, and I tried to make him feel better in between squealing. They wouldn't stock so many (and put them all together, like 7 kittens in one small enclosure) if there wasn't such a high demand, right? They probably sell them fast. But then I got distracted by a window filled with bunnies and stood there cooing. As we walked by apparently there was a giant bucket of guts right next door. I'm glad I didn't see it. Though it was odd that there were so many seafood restaurants next to the pet stores. I assured Elliot that the giant store with the big pawprint on the sign was probably just another pet store not a restaurant... thanks Hong Kong :D !
We'd finally managed to get in contact with Nikki and she asked if we were free that night. We were going to go to Jumbo, the famous restaurant that had a version in Boston, because it was our last chance to that night. But, we decided we could fit her in too so we used the free Internet at a Pacific Coffee Company (sort of like a Starbucks) to send her a message asking her to meet us at 8 p.m. by the clock tower in the Kowloon harbor. We went to lunch back on the Hong Kong side at this small, Chinese (doi big surprise) restaurant. A guy sitting next to us told us to get the set menus because they were cheaper and really good and told the waiter to give us the menus. The waiter got all fussy but did it and we ended up eating some of the best food on the whole trip. Noodles in clear, spicy broth and crispy pork in a honey glaze with fresh, crunchy cucumbers in garlic. Yeah, it was delicious. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting gifts including personalized stamps for each of our dads. We had to give the man an hour to make them so we made a plan. We'd go over to the Kowloon side for Elliot's final fitting and to give them the hotel address to deliver the suits (and free beer!), then come back and get the stamps, then make our way to the bus station to go and finally see Jumbo, then either take a cab or the bus back to Kowloon to meet Nikki, even though she hadn't responded back to us yet.
Elliot's suits were great and the tiny store was filled with energetic Indian men, all friendly and personable and measuring various customers. The stamps were made; my dad's with a carved horse on top (he loves horsies) and Elliot's dad's with a pig as he was born in the year of, and so we trudged back to the bus station. We'd had trouble finding the right bus earlier in the week but luckily, it was right there so we hopped on for a merciful half hour of sitting down. I was next to this kid playing, according to Elliot, God of War and he was not doing so well, also according to Elliot who was watching from behind us.
When we got to our stop it was right by the water. A few steps and we could see out towards some lights just floating in the middle. Jumbo. So we walked. We walked for half an hour and ended up at some car service district with no sign of water anywhere. Where the hell was it?! How do you get to the damn restaurant!? Finally, we gave up and went to pee at some food court we found. Needless to say, we were danm exhausted and we were pretty far from where we had to be so we found a bus stop rather than a cab and decided to just take it to the pretty much the end of the line. The bus rolled down the street in the opposite direction of where we'd been walking and it drove right past a giant sign, JUMBO. It had steps and a pier right to it. We'd gone the wrong way. At least we got a glimpse of it on the way back? We just didn't have time to get back out and go see it, we were already a little late.
We were at the clock tower a little past 8:30 but there was no sign of Nikki. You can kind of imagine how tired we were at that point (the market trips had been the same day) and we waited for almost and two hours but no sign of Nikki. We took turns getting hot coffee at the 711 or checking the internet and the heavy wind did not help my developing headache. We'd had a long day and at that point I hadn't eaten since lunch, nine hours earlier. After giving up on Nikki we got back on the ferry and crossed over to Hong Kong. I had a raging headache by this time and I just thought food was what I needed. We walked around trying in vain to find a roast pork place (or suckling pig. Elliot found out the name of what he wanted so we ended up walking into places, asking if they had it, and then turning around and walking swifly back out when they said no. We asked maybe 7 places. Note: this is a food Hong Kong is famous for) and after while, fed up, we ended up at the same building the Indian restaurant had been in. We picked a random floor and walked in to a restaurant. I think it was Taiwanese food. It was odd and I felt like throwing up because my headache was so bad. Elliot was getting increasingly worried, especially when I went to retch in the bathroom. No vomit though. Finally, I said I was just going to leave and grab a cab back but my darling boyfriend abandoned his meal, paid up, and led me out.
Back in the noise and mess and chaos of people we were. I had enough. I was just done with Hong Kong. A passing double-decker bus had an ad all over it for Turkish Airlines and Istanbul. Thanks universe. Your timing, as always, is super. I almost started crying, I wanted to go home so badly. This was of course, before my exchange with Cengiz Bey so Turkish Airlines was a sign of comfort not extreme hatred (haha their catchphrase is, "Globally yours." My dad cracked that it was, "Globally up yours." Amen sir!). We walked out on the street, stopping only so Elliot could get pork jerky from a corner store, and went to track down a cab. Our hotel wasn't too far away, but far enough distance walking so we had some trouble finding a cab but thank God one stopped. He dropped us off, Elliot begged me to eat something, I told him to get out as I did not want him to deal with me vomiting, he did, at which point I went to the bathroom and actually did start crying. This did not help my pounding head. And still no throwing up. That usually makes me feel better but I wasn't about to force myself. I'm pretty sure I burst some blood vessels from heaving anyway.
Elliot came back after a while with some yogurt but I had taken some Tylenol PM at that point (it knocks me out so I didn't want to take any earlier and I didn't have regular Tylenol with me) and was curled up in the bed. I've had migraines before but usually they're like once every six months or so. In Hong Kong I got two within three days of each oher. The Tylenol helped a little and I finally drifted off to sleep to the dulcet tones of CSI, my new friend.
The next morning I felt fine (well, still mucus-y and cough-y and gross but at least my brain didn't feel like it was about to come out of my skull) and it was kind of sad how happy Elliot and I were to be going home. We were almost giddy. We took a cab to the airport express terminal, got to check in our bags there (it's a subway station for just the airport in the city. You can check in and leave your luggage and it'll get to where it's going, no problem. Jesus, Hong Kong. You are so amazing at some stuff and so ass-backwards about others. It blows my mind), and then peacefully rode the subway to the airport. We got our last buns (pork for Elliot, cheese and mushroom and I think some pork too as I doubt they have anything without pork there. Yep, I was a bad Muslim this vacation) and I bought the sequel to the, "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," as I'd finished the first one and we boarded Continental bound for that magical, glorious land; NEWARK.
Now, we were spoiled by Cathay Pacific so we didn't have high hopes for our Continental plane. Boy, were we wrong. Every seat had a TV with probably hundreds of movies and a fair amount of TV shows. They had Dexter! They gave us food and snacks and even though I was in the middle seat, I was quite comfortable the fifteen hours back. I watched Desperately Seeking Susan because it was a comfort movie with my Madonna in it and I realized I'd never seen it all the way. It's not very good. The problem is, it has a decent plot and the writer(s) gave reasons and alibis and explanations for everything so that it would be plausible. But, they got so caught up with making sure everything made sense that the actual story and movie fell by the wayside. It was kind of boring but fun. Madonna was amazing though, just because she's so cool. I mean, acting is so so but she's just so cool! My darling muse was there right when I needed her. Oh, and her outfits? MAN. She had a pair of sequinned boots I would very happily sell my cat for. No, I LIED. NEVER. Not my Egglet. Oh I just got a heartache-y pang. I have to go hug her right now. No, not my cat. My sister maybe. I love you Mina. Rosanna Arquette talks and looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar, by the way. It was really odd. I think that might be way I like her. I always wondered why and assumed because she kept appearing in mvoies with my loves, Madonna and David Bowie (The Linguini Incident, one of my favorites), but it might very well be because I love SMG and Rosanna and she do have a fair bit in common. She's in Desperately Seeking Susan too, I didn't just randomly start talking about the best Arquette.
It wasn't until we reached Newark that I saw I had a message from Nikki. She slept through everything. Oh Nikki. Good job :D
We got home and were immediately greeted by an ecstatic Egg. She spent the rest of the afternoon and night going from my arms to Elliot's and slept curled up close to us all night. It was good to be home.
I wouldn't say it was a bad vacation but I also wouldn't say it was the best. China is not for the weak. Especially those with a crappy immune system (my cough went away a day after I got back home but I remained congested for another week). But, I guess I'm still pretty happy I got to go and see it. It was an experience and well, maybe next time it'll be for 3 days rather than ten. THANKS HONG KONG :D !
Hong Kong from the Peak at night.
Us. Where will we end up next? My vote is for Australia.