Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 27 February 2017
Not long ago, I happened to meet a Hong Kong local, at a work meeting at Tanamera Café, Jakarta. Steph. She wondered if I, and those with me at the time, have been to Hong Kong and I was so eager to answer. “It was…,” I paused to think of the right words to sum up my trip to Hong Kong early 2017. It took me a while to merely scratch beneath the surface, but I did find that one word which could express the feelings I had towards this part of China. “… fascinating!” came out from my mouth. Hong Kong was fascinating.
Most Indonesians would consider Hong Kong as a shopping destination and a lot of sightseeing. Not being a big spender, I was never allured by this. So, when it came to visit it for work, I was quite happy since I didn’t have to use my own money for this destination. But, after spending 8 days walking my ass off around town, I realize there’s so much more to Hong Kong than just to spend money on products.
The north coast of Hong Kong Island is super vibrant. Tight with high rising buildings, both old and new, shops lined so close to one another with brands all over them, food everywhere you see, and people walking constantly close to you from everywhere to anywhere.
“I haven’t seen any fat people,” Indah, my travel mate, said to me, a few days in our trip. She was right, there wasn’t many large people walking around. I thought that with the amount of walking they had to do, no one can be fat in this city. But, maybe that’s not an option. People have to walk to get to public transportation and limited parking spots, because some alleys are too small for vehicles. So it’s probably part of the lifestyle, and I would think it’s all the exercise you need.
“I come here about three times a week. I also play badminton and soccer,” said Peter, a man playing basketball alone in a court, smacked in the middle of Wan Chai. “It’s still very important. We need to always move a lot,” he continued. The bar for walking distance and good physique goes the distance.
Speaking of walking to the public transportation system, one of my favorite things about the island is the variation of the people’s transport. There are taxis, busses, MTR (subway systems) and trams. Yes, they still have working trams, also known as ding dings due to their ‘ding’ing bells. Getting to a place was so much fun, trying to figure out what to hop on and when. Initially, I navigated around the town trying to work things out, eventually I ended using the Citymapper and Google Map applications. Useful!
“I’m more of an efficient girl. I like to take the MTR because it’s on time and faster. But if I need to go just one stop, I take the ding ding. There’s no point walking down the subway system, do one stop, and then walk back up. It’s all about efficiency,” explained Natalie, store manager for the Monocle Shop.
Efficiency seemed to be the it word for Hong Kong. That, or productivity. People are always going somewhere, trying to achieve or merely to complete something. It explains much of how the state of Hong Kong has developed so well in a more orderly system.
I didn’t know when people took the time to relax, if any, which pretty much explained my first impression of Hong Kong people were that they’re straightforward and all business. In small restaurants, you could hear plates constantly clanging and waiters would shout at each other as if they were always mad. Turns out, that had to do with the Cantonese dialect that was more firm, and I had not yet become accustomed to.
As busy as the ‘boss’ at Lan Fong Yuen, a restaurant recommended especially for breakfast, I just had to ask him why is the bo lo bun called pineapple bun, while tasting nothing like it. He looked like that he was the only one that could spare time to talk, as the others were busy with orders in their hands. Curiosity wins over hesitance.
“They say, it smells like a pineapple,” he said with a smile. I wasn’t satisfied with the answer, although it gave me a giggle. It was my only pineapple bun joint, but it was so good, I think I’m good with it for a while. This wasn’t the only friendly encounter from the working locals. Most of the Hong Kong people I approached with a good will are the friendly people. If not friendly, they were willing to help. I can’t remember any experience bad enough to be recalled.
And the food? Ah, the food!
Part of the work I did in Hong Kong was to taste some halal food, aside to some others recommended by locals or by people we know. I can say that most of the food I like, and some I love. I never heard that Hong Kong food was that good. Now, I’d travel just for the food. Although it didn’t seem too various, the food was tasty and interesting. Some of my fav was the Wai Kee curry, Maks Noodles, pineapple bun, Islamic Center Dim Sum, mango mocha at a corner somewhere in Wan Cai, and a dessert parlor in Sham Shui Po, Luk Lam Dessert.
I do have to say, since I stayed in Wan Cai and Tsim Sha Tsui, the busy streets and the lights were a little too much at some point, I really enjoyed visiting the more rural areas like Kowloon. Also, too many people gave me slight anxiety, though rare. Some places were also challenging in terms of elevated terrain, something I’m not used to and made me pretty exhausted.
And I can’t say that Hong Kong is cheap; it’s as expensive as Singapore, if not more.
Standing in the middle of a busy intersection, waiting for a tram to pass by, I’ve come to a somewhat enlightenment. Considering Hong Kong being so different to anywhere in Indonesia, it’s a great destination for a different ambiance and now I’ve come from ‘not interested’ to ‘would recommend’. And then, there’s the New Territories that is yet to be explored!