Originally planned as a long weekend, a short trip to Hong Kong totally altered the picture. True to an old adage that life is all about meeting unexpected things, my short trip to Hong Kong was a trip down memory lane with twists and turns. Aboard the Philippine Airlines after a two-hour delayed (PAL had to get an aircraft from Bacolod City because the passengers were restless), the trip was a bit uncomfortable because I was sitting next to Indian nationals with uninviting smell.
Eventhough it was the height of the anniversary of the hostage drama that involved Hong Kong tourists, Filipinos were unmindful of the issues on racism. True, shoppers care less with racism as wallets are apolitical by nature. Queue at the immigration was long and slow, but who cared? Get pass them and a piece of heaven is waiting at the conveyor.
|BFF beaming with smile after a long queue at the immigration.|
We decided to take the tourist route- deviating from the usual itinerary of visiting the country (with the assistance of a travel agency). We took the cab and welcomingly experienced getting lost in translation. A piece of paper with the name of the hotel in Chinese characters saved a 30-minute explanation and zoomed us to the Mira Hotel – a designer hotel, I read in their welcome card. Sad I was addressed Ms. Garcia.
While the accustomed visit to the country received us with familiar tunes of the childhood past and structures of the early days’ memories, the Disneyland treat, this trip presented me an entirely different scenario. Gone were Mickey Mouse and his friends. Gone were the boutiques of Princesses and Minnie Mouse, instead, shopping malls and boutiques of known designers.
Exactly like a buffet table with selections of various cuisines, the eyes of my BFF went full-size. I could feel the blood rushing to her wallet, but it was cut short: we had to check in our luggage…ummm, my overnight bag, rather.
After a tiring two-hour delayed and the long queue at the immigration center, a short nap would guarantee me enough strength to battle the shopping dare, I told myself. But the ambience of my suite room (read as SUITE ROOM 928 of the Mira Hotel…ha ha ha) gave me the chill. What will I do with the size of this room for an overnight stay? I could have brought my entire family and we still had enough space for the neighbors. The amenities were superb. The toiletries were arranged beautifully but went straight to my overnight bag. I could have ignored the toilet paper but the presentation was so inviting and that one too went straight to my overnight bag. Armed with planned curiosity, I checked the list and anything not included in their menu went to my overnight bag. Now that was the first leg of the shopping diva’s itinerary.
|check my overnight bag...|
The following hours were a random shopping of my BFF and her hubby. With no list but fashion instinct, we visited the Gateway Mall and tousled with Tommy H and got a Tommy H boxer shorts for that. Not a shoe person myself, I fell in love at first sight with Onitsuka’s shoes and gifted myself with their “New Arrival” brown suede rubber shoes named Tiger. While they went their separate way, a light dinner at the third floor of the mall was a cake topper. I had Chinese food – whatever it was because it was in Chinese character and not a foodie myself even – a HK $95.00 dollar meal was a treat.
And just before we called it a “half” day – we visited the first hotel we stayed, ten years back – the Quandong Hotel. The area has a total make-over but we still felt the old feel of the place. The money changer (that gave me my first HK dollar experience). The magazine stand (where I first bought an adult magazine for $25) and the street food stalls. We took some like the first time. Memories of our first trip soon flowed as we tried (again) the sugar cane juice. The former quaint look of façade of the hotel was all stripped down. Though, it looks beautiful – but I just miss the old one.
The following day (also my last day) was spent re-packing my things and a good breakfast at an ordinary Chinese restaurant but with impressive choices and a short stop at the tea store. While my BFF and her hubby decided to extend their stay - I had to go back to the Philippines.
The line was long again at the check-in counter but there was no hint of restlessness as OFWs were so occupied with phone calls to their families back home. Happiness and excitement were all over the area. Fathers hand carried their gifts to their children. While a particular husband proudly showed a pair of shoes for his wife (I doubt the wife would love.) and another father bought a lovely doll for his daughter whose birthday was so timely to his arrival. Almost teary eyed, I took a deep sigh and felt proud that families in my country still matter most. And that there is no sweeter way than coming BACK HOME.