Monday, 10 October 2011

AsianAdventures - take two

I am not sure if I've told the beginning of this story already, so I'll start there before I move on.

It's three days into my new job at Lux. I'm on my way to work reading a Paulo Coelho book and daydreaming about travelling. I regain focus and turn the page. The title reads 'advice for travellers'.

'Gosh,' I say. 'It must be a sign.'

I get into work and am called into the other room by my editor. He asks me what I'm doing at the end of September and if I'd like to go to Hong Kong...

I'm sure I don't need to tell you how the conversation ended.

So having returned from my AsianAdventures I feel I should share some of my stories. Especially as I don't think I ever got round to writing about my AsianAdventures - take one.

My first press trip. It's like my first book or my first computer – something magical and life changing.

It's now been a week since my awesome week in Asia. When we arrived at the (beautiful) Hotel Icon we all unpacked and did our own thing until the evening. My own thing consisted of a Thai massage in the spa and a quick exploration of the local area.

This was my first time in a five star hotel and my first time in a spa. Both are things I would recommend.

Later that evening we went for dinner, where the Megaman MD insisted on getting everybody very drunk. I successfully avoided such a conclusion, but not drinking any of the shots and instead handing them over to somebody else.

Ha, rule one of journalism: Never be drunker than the people you're talking to.

There was drunkeness and dancing and new friends to be made. I set the tone for the rest of my week by making a few new friends on day one.

The factory we went to visit was in China, which meant my first ChinaTrip. We only got to stay a day and didn't really see much other than the view from the coach and the factory. I am a little in love and most definitely want to return and explore properly.

We definitely faced a communication barrier in China, unlike in Hong Kong. It makes me feel terrible that my language skills aren't great and people always speak English, which is almost an excuse not to try. (Side note: I've decided to learn Italian. Wish me luck.)

One night I managed to take a few of the other editors and the marketing girl to the red light district of Hong Kong. Wan Chai is the home of bars that stay open late mid-week, so that is were we went - to a bar called Amazonia.

Here one of the editors was repeatedly accosted by a prostitute called Sarah.

Wednesday was most of the others' last day, so we did some touristy things. We jumped in a taxi and asked for the bottom of the peak, so we could get the tram. Instead we were taken to the top of the peak, into the carpark of a shopping mall.

We followed the building up to the top, where we discovered we were in fact in the wrong building. We were high up enough to see all the awesome however, so it didn't matter.

It was very windy way up high, which we later discovered the reason for.

We got the tram back down to town and saw a sign saying 'Typhoon 1 has been hoisted' while we waited on the platform.

Later, waiting for the ferry, we saw another sign saying the same thing.

'Gee, they like naming things typhoon out here, don't they?'

It wasn't until later, when the typhoon warning reached a number 3 did we realise what the signs actually meant. Lots of the guys had to fly home that night.

As work was now officially over, I checked out of the beautiful posh hotel and into a horrible YWCA further inland. It was an unpleasant experience. The shower smelt of mould, for one.

So Thursday morning I wake up and leave the YWCA. Walking around an empty Kowloon, I giggle to myself. 'Gosh,' I think. 'How have I managed to find the quiet part of Hong Kong? I wonder where everyone is.'

No cars. No people. Strange.

After walking around for about 30 or 40 minutes, following road signs and intuition I have managed to discover many a council estate-esque place, lots of dead ends and loads of residential roads. And a taxi. A lone taxi.

I flag him down and struggle to ask for the Science Museum. On arrival I am told that the museum is closed - along with the rest of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong closed?

You see, the typhoon warning had gone up to a number 8. Eight is enough to ground flights and close businesses. Do you like how nobody at the YWCA cared to tell me about this? How they just let me walk out to my potential death!

Ok, so my first experience of a typhoon later led me to realise my life was never in any sort of danger, but for dramatic effect, let's pretend it was.

As soon as I stepped outside the Science Museum, down came the rain. And boy, did it come down. I stood under a sheltered bit for a while and watched as others did the same. Unsure how long such rainfalls last, and aware of the fact that rain can't hurt me, I started walking.

The nice hotel was only around the corner, so it wasn't so bad.

I went it, had lunch, used the free wi-fi and waited out the rain.

I ended up booking myself in for a night and spending far too much money on a room. I was there for such a long time and it was just so nice and the other place just so horrid.

And I really wanted a bath. Super expensive bath!

That evening I took myself for a walk along the harbour, when the warning went back down to three. I took pictures along the Avenue of Stars and put my hand in Bruce Lee's handprint.

I then took myself for dinner and had the most amazing thing I've ever eaten. Thai red curry in a baked pumpkin. Lush.

I soon ended up back at Amazonia, and for the first time all trip allowed myself to get drunk. I managed to befriend everyone on and near the dance floor as well as most people outside. It was a fantastic evening.

I spent my last day doing an open bus tour of Hong Kong Island, where I found Victoria Park. I sat for a while by a fountain watching an old man play with toy boats. I also discovered the play area, where they're teaching children to read brail (and English)!

All-in-all: Amazing AsianAdventures. More please.

1 comment:

  1. I’m just eating buttered toast with lashings of luscious bitter cherry jam, washed down with a mug of Lapsang Souchong; this is a treat and so is this little essay. I love the way your natural enthusiasm shines through in your writing. It sounds like you want to experience everything in the world at once. I enjoyed all the imagery you managed to cram into such a short piece. I can picture the old man sailing his toy boats in Victoria Park and the rain swept streets as the typhoon passed. Perhaps, true journalism has more to do with our ability to empathise with and observe our surroundings, than it does with our writing style.
    Finally, I wondered what the old hard line Maoist communists would have made of you…
    Honest proletariat journalist corrupted by decadent capitalist luxury hotels and dissolute nightclubs. They would probably have given you three months on the collective farm planting rice.

    Keep on doing your thing,
    Regards, Peter