Fifteen hours is a long time to sit in coach! Since my flight departure time was 1:20am, and 15 hours later it would be 29 hours later somehow, and still morning, I worked out a strategy to adjust more quickly to the new time zone. I started two days early with naps that would begin and end strictly on schedule, and I planned to be awake for the first 5 hours of my flight. Which totally worked, for the first 15 minutes. So I landed at 5am, having napped on and off for 15 hours, and my body has zero idea what's happening. There were shower rooms in the airport. For free showers. And for whatever reason, they were entirely separate from the bathrooms. I couldn't get my bank card or credit card to work in the airport ATM, so had to use a currency exchange window, and I'm sure I got a lousy exchange rate, but I'm finding everything confusing right now and I didn't have many options, since the cabs here take only cash.
It was hard to get a sense of Hong Kong from the taxi. I tried, but everything was blurry, not because I was so tired, but because my taxi driver has a death wish, apparently. When I arrived at the hotel, it was 6am, and there was no way my room was going to be ready anytime soon. I stashed my bags and headed up to a lounge where I could grab breakfast and coffee, and I tried to situate myself a little using the map I grabbed in the lobby. Ultimately, I decided to just wander the streets for a bit. I walked through a gorgeous flower market and then followed signs for the "bird garden," which turned out to be a bird market, with thousands of caged birds of varied sizes and colors. The bird vendors were just starting their day, so I watched them hang cages from wires and listened to the cacophony of tweets and whistles coming from everywhere. A lot of the birds were under plastic tarps,,waiting for the vendors to show up. They were squawking from beneath the tarps, and I felt sad for them. As I stood outside a stall just taking it in, from somewhere under a tarp, something squawked, "hello?" Naturally, I answered. "Hello." which prompted another "Hello?" from under the tarp. I stood there exchanging greetings with the tarp for awhile until one of the vendors kind of sneered at me, which I think is cantonese for "you aren't amusing." I really did feel sad for the birds - there were just so many. Even if every person in Hong Kong bought 5 birds, I'll bet the cages would still be crowded. I can't figure out how the bird vendors make a living - I really wanted to get some information about how many sales per day happened at each stall. There were probably 40 stalls, each housing stacks and stacks of caged birds.
Next, I meandered into a playground in Fa Hui Park, which is situated between busy, noisy streets. There were 6 or 7 people doing tai chi, including one woman who had an infant strapped to the front of her body. I don't know if the baby was sleeping or just soothed, but as I sat and watched for awhile, I thought about how calming that must be for the baby -- not only because of the slowly flowing movements, but also because I imagined the baby could probably sense the peace and calm that the mother was feeling as she moved through her forms. At least until she stumbled!
I was hot, because I was wearing a sweater that I'd worn on the plane, and heavy shoes on my feet, and the Hong Kong weather is warm! It was beginning to feel too unpleasant to keep walking around, and I my brain was so foggy, so I made my way back to the hotel where I sat in the lobby trying to stay awake for a couple of hours until my room was ready.
I'm excited to see Jordan tonight, and to sleep! I noticed that I didn't see any women wearing shorts, so I hope I won't be culturally insensitive or inappropriate, but tomorrow I am wearing shorts! It's just too warm for long pants! It is also my mission tomorrow to get at least one person in this city to return my smile. It's weird not knowing whether you are being offensive or insensitive. I feel like I shoud have read up a bit more about what this city is like in terms of culture and customs. I plan to do that, right after a nap.