They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, only we weren't traveling a thousand miles. We were going half-way across the world to another country in a different time zone. From blue collar workers to jet setters in less than a year's time. I think we're on the right track - or flight - which is where our journey began.
(Photo: We made it! Hong Kong Int'l Airport)
Tasked with chronicling the team's experience within the "Pearl of the Orient", the following events are just some of the highlights of our trip. We took a redeye flight from LAX to Beijing which was twelve hours and after a short layover, caught the adjourning three hour flight from Beijing to Hong Kong. Needless to say we went from jet setting to jet lagging real quick. Once in Hong Kong we noticed the immediate change in temperature. It's hot in LA but in Hong Kong it's more of a humid heat. Like walking around in a dry sauna...and this was just in the airport.
(Photo: On the very fast Express train headed into Hong Kong)
After clearing customs we went to our baggage claim and my bag was literally the last one to come off the conveyor an hour later. I was lucky because I'm a pretty big guy (think Bob Sapp with an afro) and I was worried because I highly doubted Hong Kong had clothing that would fit me in case my bag had been lost during the transfer. I would have had to squeeze into something for the duration of the trip and most likely end up looking like an extra from The Last Dragon.
(Photo: On the MTR headed to our hotel. Crowded much?)
After exchanging our US money for HK money (with its cool ink work and intricate coloring), we hopped on an airport express train to the city and caught an MTR subway to our hotel. The only problem is we accidently got off one stop too soon and had to hike two miles in 65% humidity in 90-degree weather. Not to mention we were now in the most densely populated area in the world and dragging around luggage.
(Photo: The Amazing view from our hotel room just after arriving)
After making it to our hotel, drenched in sweat and begging for death's sweet release, we grabbed some food at a local Korean BBQ spot (yeah, our first meal in China was Korean food). The head cook brought us some raw fish and cooked it for us on our personal grill and wouldn't leave our table until we ate the fish: head, fins, tail, and all. We didn't want to insult the guy so we obliged, but as soon as I bit into my fish thousands of eggs exploded out of its belly and I had to tap out... and this was only day one.
(Photo: Our first meal. Bite the head!)
Welcome to Hong Kong.
Day two for the team began at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) for the world's largest timepiece event: the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair. It was the reason the team had made the trip into the future (Hong Kong is fifteen hours ahead of California). The event didn't technically start until tomorrow but we wanted to beat the crowd and pre-register early but as soon as we showed up we were told to come back tomorrow anyways.
(Photo: Aris and Wes looking out of the convention center)
We decided to walk to the ferry because from where we were it didn't look too far, but it ended up being over two miles, which in retrospect isn't too bad, only it started to rain in the process. Once there, the ferry was only about twenty-five cents US, and the ride across the bay to Kowloon was peaceful. I appreciated the respite: my clothes were soaked, my feet were crying, and I was without an umbrella.
(Photo: On the ferry headed to Kowloon)
We took a stroll through the famous women's market to do some bargain shopping. Don't get it twisted. There were five of us, all guys, but the women's market sold an abundance of things so don't take the name literally. Just saying. We all walked out with a little something, but our in-house photographer Aris got jacked for $20 HK (which is less than $3 USD) by the "Kowloon Menace". This old lady, who was the owner of the store he bought a Bruce Leeroy jacket from, literally reached into his wallet and took the bill and begged him to let her keep it because she said she needed to eat. She didn't even have teeth! True story. We let her slide, having done our good deed for the day.
(Photo: Women's market)
But she wasn't the only one who needed to eat so we made our way to the famous Tim Ho Wan for lunch, which is the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. We were all excited for the opportunity to try some of the most sought after food in the world and it didn't disappoint. The baked bun with BBQ pork was worth the trip alone.
(Photo: One of the best meals we had!)
We headed out that same night to explore the town, but as tourists usually do, we got lost in the streets. We stumbled across a bar called Vida Loca which turned out to be our diamond in the rough. We were greeted by a bar tender named Stephanie who gave us free shots and told us to come back Friday because it would be crazy! She warned us to eat before we came and I see why. When you get free shots but have to pay for water, you know you're in for a long night.
(Photo: Cool alley just after leaving Vida Loca)
Afterward we barhopped like responsible adults and ended up on a lively street just off of Central Station. It was full of bars and clubs and had a really cool vide. Our CEO Westley bought the team a round of shots called Venom, which should have been warning enough, but we took them down anyway. It tasted like death, and when he reads this, I want him to know that my taste buds are still recovering from that terrible shot. I lost a couple of years off my life after that black licorice shooter, but the fun was just beginning.
(Photo: Tiger beer and just a bit before the Venom! Wanted to stick with the animal theme)
Be on the lookout for the continuation of our Adventures in Hong Kong, next week!