Trying to Power Through in Hong Kong

My eyes feel like they’re on fire at times. My head is heavy. When I cough, it feels as if my brain is going push out of my skull. Though the temperature is in the mid-80s, every five minutes or so I get the chills and my arms and legs are covered in goosebumps. I’ve been rationing tissues so that I don’t just blow my nose whenever I fee like and then run out of tissues. The medicine I’ve been taking seems to have no effect on masking the symptoms of whatever sickness I’ve got.

I’m trying really hard to be happy and enthusiastic. But my cold is making that almost impossible.

That’s how I felt sitting on a bench in the front of the library on Lamma Island, Hong Kong. I had just attempted to follow the map and find a restroom.

But I got lost, wandered off the hiking path and had an old woman point me in the right direction back to the path. The path is paved but very very hilly. Because I wasn’t able to breath clearly, by the time I gave up on my quest to empty my bladder on the island and found my way back to the bench where my wife and kids were, I was winded and thought I might pass out.

I was feeling so sick that under normal circumstances I would be either in bed or on the couch in front of the TV with a box of tissues. But this was the first time I had ever been in Hong Kong and I didn’t know when I’d get a chance to come back and see this fascinating city.

We had arrived Saturday afternoon after a 2.5 hour flight from Shanghai. I hadn’t felt well when I had woken up that morning. It didn’t stop me from taking one last run in Shanghai. I put on my running gear and walked over to Lu Xun park and ran for 30 minutes in the shade of the abundant trees, weaving my way through the usual morning crowds of walking elderly. I usually feel better after a run (this time I didn’t) and I would probably never have a chance to run in Shanghai again.

The sinus issues I was having only worsened as the day went on, through the flight to Hong Kong, the taxi ride to our hotel, and through dinner.

Dinner was at a market on 99 Java Road. Stephanie had found it through some searches on the Internet for nearby places to eat. Apparently, it’s one of the places Anthony Bourdain ate when he did his show on Hong Kong. When we gave the address to the taxi driver, he didn’t feign ignorance, nor did he throw us out of the cab. He took us to the address, and told us that we should go up the stairs to the second floor, because that’s where the restaurant was located. (I can’t imagine a Beijing taxi driver being so helpful.)

The first floor of the building was a market where you could be every imaginable piece of produce and type of meat and fish. The second floor contained a series of restaurants, with round tables and plastic chairs. Food was cooked to order from fresh ingredients. We sat near a bank of water tanks, inside which contained different kinds of fish and crustaceans. A man repeatedly pulled crustaceans out and brought them over to a kitchen, where they were boiled, broiled, or sauted.

Afterwards, Stephanie took the kids swimming in the hotel pool while I marveled at television in English.

This was our view from the Harbour Plaza Hotel North Point.

It was a fantastic hotel with excellent staff. It’s also a two minute walk from the Quarry Bay stop on the Island Line of the subway. This made it a convenient place to stay for getting around Hong Kong. Sunday morning we rode the subway to the Central stop and walked up to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus.

“The Peak” is short for Victoria Peak, one of the highest points in Hong Kong. It contains an observation deck that is accessed through the Peak Tram. The tram has been in existence since the 1880s. The wait on Sunday morning was a long one. The kids handled it well. We bought the Sky Pass so we could go all the way up to the very top.

The views speak for themselves. Even on a cloudy day like the one we had, though the sun’s rays were dimmed the beauty of the city was not.

Here’s the tram we rode up and down.

If you get hungry afterwards, there are several restaurants where you can eat, including a Bubba Gump Shrimp. “Run, Forrest! Run!”

Or you can go shopping at the mall.

You don’t need to leave terminus at the top to do any shopping. There are plenty of stores inside where you can buy souvenirs of all kinds. There was also a candy shop which we could not avoid, thanks to the kids.

We rode the tram down the Peak and during the course of searching for an ATM, Meredith fell asleep in my arms. Despite being sick, I carried Meredith around while we found an ATM, hired a taxi to take us to the ferry docks, and got on a ferry to Lamma Island. Why Lamma Island? It was a random choice. We wanted to take a ferry ride to view the harbor and to take in a very different view of Hong Kong.

Here’s the dock on Lamma Island. As you can see it’s filled with bikes. I imagine island residents ride their bikes to the dock, park, and then ride the ferry (22HK$ each way) to Honk Kong Island or Kowloon.

The island looks nothing like what you’ve seen of Hong Kong. There are no skyscrapers. With only 6000 people it is not crowded or loud. One of it’s claims to fame is being the place where the actor Chow Yun-Fat grew up.

The map I mentioned and showed you above displays a path you can hike, taking you around the circumference of the island. I imagine it’s an excellent thing to do, provided you don’t have small children or a fever. I was actually a little bummed we couldn’t do it, even for a short bit. I was not expecting Hong Kong to have such a rural component, thinking that it was all skyscrapers and shopping.

We rode the ferry back and took a few pictures along the way.

On the mainland, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen has a mausoleum. In Hong Kong, the good doctor has a sports arena named in his honor.

Back on Hong Kong island we found a toilet so I could finally empty my bladder, and then got on the subway back to the hotel.

My wife got some takeout dinner and brought it back to our room. Once we had all eaten, the kids wanted to take another dip in the pool. Originally, I was going to go with them. But since I wasn’t feeling well, Stephanie took them.

The kids were disappointed. I told the kids that there was nothing I wanted to do more on our last night in Hong Kong than take them swimming. but that I simply couldn’t do it. Not with the way I was feeling.

While my wife was with the kids down at the pool, I managed to post the following status to my Facebook page.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to eat breakfast then click my sweaty sandals three times and say, “There’s no place like home…”

That was another nice thing about Hong Kong: we were no longer behind the Great Firewall of China.

Then I did the thing I should have done earlier in the day; I took my temperature. It was 101 degrees Fahrenheit. I had a fever. No wonder I felt so terrible.

It was a quarter after eight in the evening. I wrote my wife a note about my temperature and then I went to bed. I spent the night sipping water every time I’d wake up because my lips were dry and my mouth was parched. Sometime after 4am I started to sweat. The fever broke but at dawn I felt exhausted, wondering how I was going to make it to the airport for our flight back to the States.

Our China Adventure was about to come to an end and I was feeling like I needed to be carried out of the country.

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