Hong Kong & China: one hundred days in!

This piece was originally posted on tinyletter.com/Terhys on April 4th, 2015.

Homesickness started to hit hard as I was leaving India; by that point I had been gone for three months and I was deeply missing my family and friends. Two things happened while I was in Hong Kong, one revolutionary and one fun: my mom got an iPhone and learned how to FaceTime, and I met up with the first familiar face I’d seen the whole trip. Leaving behind the masses, chaos and dirt in India for the cleanliness and order of Hong Kong was a weirdly jarring experience. Suddenly, everything was easy and in English! People were strutting around in designer labels and driving Ferraris, and everywhere I looked there was a Chanel store with people lined up outside. It was like The Capitol in the Hunger Games, and I greedily lapped up the luxury after six weeks of roughing it in India.

Traditional Chinese Junk sails in the Hong Kong Harbor with tourists aboard. It is a cloudy day. There is a city skyline behind the ship.
Hong Kong Harbor, Tourist Junk sailing in front of the skyline.

While there I went to the world’s tallest bar, dined in my first Michelin rated restaurant (!), ate for the first time in a (marble-floored) metro station, attended Art Basel Hong Kong, bought designer sneakers, saw a movie in a theater where the attendants wore tuxedos, and went to a mall that had priceless works of art dangling in a pink iridescent dome over a casual sitting area. Thankfully I only stayed a week, and scooted off to Beijing before I could spend all my money. Once there, my too-expensive-sneakers and I huffed and puffed up the Great Wall! It is incredibly steep, which guidebooks fail to mention. There were often stretches where I would wearily look up, dispirited and with quivering thighs, to see a wall of stairs staring stonily back at me. These stretches just so happened to coincide with my water breaks, during which I overheard conversation snippets like this:

“I – huff huff – was talking to Candice and she – huff huff – said at their hotel they get new – huff – slippers every – huff – day!!”
Blue sky, brown jagged mountains, the great wall is in the middle, seen from afar. There are dead trees in front of it (it's winter).
Great Wall of China, steeper than a %&$#*&
I also observed three women singing in unison, one woman literally huffing and puffing on a cigar as she climbed (why?), one woman in a t-shirt covered in hideously grinning Nicholas Cages (why?), and one woman with her jacket tied around her head who saw the upcoming set of stairs, stopped walking, and started to wail. Now that I think about, people watching on the Great Wall is better than anywhere else in the world – well, maybe except for my current location…
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