Hong Kong – arrival

All over Taiwan I saw small design features that made people’s lives easier. I saw two more today. The first was on the airport express train. It had USB points under the arm rests (which is common) and a wireless phone charging point (which is less common).

The second was at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. It had a family room. This contained a normal toilet for adults, a smaller toilet for children, a urinal for children, and baby-changing facilities.

I’m sad I’m leaving Taiwan. I enjoyed my time here, the more so because I had no expectations. However, Hong Kong awaited.

The flight to Hong Kong was only an hour and forty minutes. Once there, I took two buses to get to my hostel. There is a fast (and more expensive) train also available, but I was in no rush. I didn’t need to be there before check-in time.

In travelling around East Asia, I changed the order I visited countries so that I could meet a friend (who lives in London but is of Hong Kong origin). She was over for the first time since the pandemic to visit her family. By going to Hong Kong now, I could meet her, benefit from her local knowledge, and go to some places with her when she wasn’t catching up with family and friends.

The first piece of helpful advice she gave me was before I landed. She recommended buying an Octopus card at the airport. This is like the EasyCard in Taiwan. You can use it to pay for transport and goods. It’s like using contactless credit and debit cards in the UK and other countries but has existed for much longer

When I got to Kowloon, a popular district on the Hong Kong mainland, I couldn’t find my hostel. I was at the right location because the building looked like the one in the booking.com app. After circling the building looking for a sign for the hostel, I looked at the app to see the hostel’s exact address. The hostel was on the thirteenth floor, Flat 7!

I went to the thirteenth floor, which had a note saying check-in was on the seventh floor. After I checked in, the manager took me up to my room. The door to Flat 7 on the thirteenth floor opened to a passage with four doors, each of which was a room having one or more (in the case of a dorm) beds.

After settling in and whilst wondering what to do, my friend messaged me. She said she was free for dinner.

We met later that evening. Again, I had trouble locating the restaurant. It was on the first floor! I’m going to have to get used to shops, restaurants and accommodation not having entrances on the ground level.

Although the restaurant we went to was vegetarian, we took a bit of time to determine the vegan dishes. The server helped us but was constantly rushing around, which meant we rarely had his undivided attention.

All restaurants want more customers but in Hong Kong the need is greater because of the price of real estate. The restaurants have developed ways of maximising throughput. They serve quickly and have customers leave as soon as they’ve finished, by giving some subtle or not so subtle hints.

The waiter was in such a rush that he didn’t even take our order. We were given a pencil and paper to write it down! As I later found, this is common in other restaurants too. It’s another way to improve efficiency — in this case to not have the servers do what the customers could do themselves!

When the meal came, it was huge. So huge that we were in the restaurant until closing time. By this time, there had been no need to rush us since there were several tables free and few new customers, the peak time having passed.

After eating, we walked on the river side. It’s a fine sight and one of the few areas dedicated to pedestrians. Runners took advantage of the car-less path too.

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