Wet market streets of Hong Kong

Here’s to Moments [Life in GZ, Ed. 20]

The faster-than-usual pace of this month so far has got me thinking. I find myself already anticipating a future in which I will no longer be in Guangzhou. Already anticipating the feeling of nostalgia over moments detailed in this series—and many more that have been left out.

It has been a crazy week—and no matter where I find myself a year from now, I hope that I can continue to be able to say such a thing, have more “crazy” weeks, and just enjoy and appreciate the moments we do get.

1 — Mother’s Day in China
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Chinese people also celebrate the special day, with many locals posting photos on WeChat with their moms or children. For me, my relatives invited me out to a Mother’s Day lunch, where my cousin explained why we eat roasted pork on Mother’s Day: There’s saying in Chinese that roasted pork is better than children because you can at least eat the pork… Yeah, as with a lot of Chinese things, I don’t really get it either.

When I came back, I found that my apartment building apparently offered free massages for mothers on Mother’s Day.

Free Mother's Day massages at my apartment

2 — Rain Briefly Washes Away Pollution
This week started off, well, rather bleak. On Monday, the skies screamed, “Storm’s a-coming!” Thankfully, I still slept soundly through the night’s thunderstorms and woke up the next day absolutely shocked to see the Air Quality Index reach a low of 4. FOUR!! Never have I seen the AQI so low, so you can imagine my skepticism upon such a wild discovery. It would’ve been better if the sun was out and clouds were gone to really appreciate such clean air.

Speaking of air quality, upon the recommendation of WeChat product manager Dan Grover, I purchased my first Smart Air fan and HEPA filter back in early April. Within a few weeks of moderate use:

Black. I quickly ordered another filter on Taobao, and literally within a few days, it became just as black as my first one. Terrifying. With the rain briefly washing away some of the pollution, I haven’t used it as much this week, but I will definitely have to order yet another filter, and it hasn’t even been a month yet. The suggested replacement time is after four months (assuming 8 hours a day or 2,000 hours total). And with the reviews from Beijing on Taobao, apparently it’s quite common for filters to get so dirty so quickly. #DYING

3 — Making the Most of Last-Minute Visa Run
Once again, I nearly forgot about needing to leave the country every two months. The last time I cut it so close was back in October, when I ended up being a day late. These months since I’ve found myself out of the country for various reasons, making it unnecessary to make such hurried visa runs. I could have just crossed the border and come back, but of course, I wanted to make the most of it. And boy, did I.

I had loads of fun, only making me a stronger advocate for solo travel. Do it. Throughout your life. Please.

The first meal: Beef banh mi with coriander and bacon bits. As if that weren’t enough (because it totally was), I made my way to Oddies, a trendy ice cream joint famous for its egg waffle-ice cream combo that has since been copied in Chinatowns around the world 😛

You bet I made room for this cup of heaven. On the way, I passed by the ridiculously popular noodle soup shop that my family friend took me to way back in August. There really is no shortage of amazing food in Hong Kong—specifically Central. The line looked like it consisted of mainly locals, too. #luckysonsabitches

And while I stayed the night in Central and within minutes of LKF (the city’s hoppin’ bar area), I decided to spend the night walking the streets (i.e., walking off all that food) and then relaxing in my hotel room to prepare for the next day.

More exploration! More food! After a nice cup of flat white and slice of banana bread from the Cupping Room, I window-shopped for some new gym clothes. I realized why my mom loves outlets so much—brand names for cheap. So I ended up not getting any new gear this time.

For lunch, I finally tried Mana, the crazy good vegetarian spot that sells yummy flats and gluten-free truffle balls 😛

Since my coworker is actually allergic to gluten, I made sure to get him one of each: peanut butter, coconut, and chocolate! And one of each for myself, of course! The Inka shake (raw chocolate, banana, almond, coconut, date, spirulina) after having the half-sized wrap absolutely filled me up.

Afterward, I looked up a massage place called Gao’s, which is apparently the best spot for foot massages in Hong Kong. Being in Central, it was just another few minutes away, so I quickly made my way up to the building’s 17th floor, where comfy massage chairs lined every wall, and clients from all walks of life looked like they were truly enjoying a lazy Friday afternoon.

I ended up getting a combo deal: 30 minutes shoulder and back massage + 30 minutes foot massage. All for just 290 HKD!!

Now this is where it gets even better—as in, moments like these when traveling solo are why I love it.

So before I checked out of the hotel, I skimmed through the free copy of South China Morning Post sent to my room and found that there was an Affordable Art Fair starting the very same day. After the massage, I decided to make my way over there by bus. #truelocal

But as this was located in a convention center, I was happy to discover that there were two other main events happening simultaneously—one was a fair for entrepreneurs (remember I wanted to be a journalist covering startups) and the other was freakin’ TEDxHongKong!! WHATTTT.

There were some talks going on at the fair, but according to the agenda, I still had 45 minutes left to kill before the next one I was interested in started. So in the meantime, I went looking for the art fair but saw the TEDx event and decided I would much rather pay 350 HKD for the remaining two hours of TEDx than 60-something HKD for what I knew would be just an hour or so of walking around looking at #ART among actual #ARTists. I admit TED’s branding is crazy good, in that just the mention of TED makes people automatically assume greatness and that there’s valuable shit to be heard and learned. Having attended TEDxBeaconStreet and now TEDxHongKong, oftentimes, it’s simply a cool event with sometimes interesting speakers who might have something nice to say. The larger, elitist TED conference, however, might be better. Anyway, this time, I was excited to see the guy behind that viral HK neon lights project talk!

Forgoing the talks at the entrepreneur fair, I stayed until I needed to run and catch the last train back to Guangzhou, which ended up being delayed for 40 minutes anyway. It was nice to see that the event’s organizer/host was also very active on Twitter—actually live tweeting the event, hashtags and all! That’s something I haven’t seen since my days covering events in Boston. #TEDxHK

It’s not over yet—when I got back, the buses had already stopped service. So I spent a good 20 minutes along with everyone else trying to hail a cab without getting ripped off. Finally, I got an Uber driver, who somehow ended up either running a red light or crossing a line that made the traffic cameras take a picture. The camera flashed brightly, and the driver immediately knew he would be fined. Whining like a bitch to me then someone on the phone, he said he already had no more points to be deducted and that the fine would be 200 RMB. I felt bad, somehow thinking it was my fault as his passenger, but then again, he already had all his points deducted, so…

Wow, okay, so that’s not even the end of my week. I still have so much more to record, but given how long this post ended up being, I’ll save it for another coming soon 🙂