From Manchester to Hong Kong

Apr 13, 2011

My second flight of the month took me to Manchester, where I wandered aimlessly toting my camera, snapping photos of the beautiful cherry blossom trees in bloom. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, but much to my dismay, Primark was closed. I had every intention of loading my suitcase with cheap t-shirts, nylons, and accessories, failing to take note of the fact that it was Sunday and that everything would be closed ridiculously early. I headed back to the hotel for 10 hours of sleep before returning to Dubai after a rather uneventful layover.
I was looking forward to having 3 days off. My plan was to use the time to organize flights and visas for my mom and brother who were hoping to fly to Dubai to visit me. As you may have read in previous blog posts, it's impossible to get anything done in this city, and travel arrangements were no exception. Each day I'd make the journey to the visa and travel services counter, and each time I'd come back with everything they'd told me to bring, only to find out that there was yet another document missing. I drew the line when I was told that I had the wrong birth certificate. Frustrated, I explained to the man behind the counter that it was the ONLY birth certificate that I had, and that clearly I was born as I was there in person talking to him. He suggested that I apply for a new one, have it shipped from Canada, and then return. By that time I'll probably LIVE in Canada again, so I sadly told my mom not to bother. In theory, it was a good idea... cheap flights and free accommodation in my apartment. It seemed as though every attempt was being made to prevent me from taking advantage of my travel benefits, and I no longer had the time or energy to waste on it. I returned home heartbroken, joined by my equally devastated roommate who had just been told that she couldn't possibly have time off to attend her university graduation. We consoled ourselves with buckets of ice cream and the second season of "Glee".
By the time that my days off were over, I was more than ready to return to work. I'd spent the last 3 days questioning whether I was in fact an insomniac, and contemplating my resignation based solely on the fact that I was missing home so very much. I knew a good trip would make me snap out of my Dubai depression, and that was exactly what I was anticipating as I packed my suitcase for Hong Kong!
It was an easy flight over, and I was joined by my friend and batchmate, Grant. We worked together, but he had plans to catch up with friends the next day, and I didn't want to intrude.
The rest of the crew were nice, but the majority of them planned to do nothing more than sleep and shop. Neither of those options appealed to me, so the next morning I woke up and decided to have a day of adventure on my own. First, however, was the free buffet breakfast. That alone makes this layover a bit better than all of the rest. After indulging, I headed to the metro station and got on the train bound for Hong Kong Central. It had been raining all morning, stopping just in time for me to arrive in the city. I had absolutely no plan for the day, and began wandering in search of photo opportunities. I came across the Mid-level escalators, which Grant had told me about the previous day. It is the longest outdoor escalator system in the world, and I began riding it up street by street. Hong Kong is such an amazingly multi-cultural city. I saw every imaginable type of cuisine, a mosque, a cathedral, and I even spotted an NHL hockey game on TV inside one of the pubs. I went all the way to the top of the escalators, turned around, and went back down.
It was a beautiful afternoon, I continued walking until I reached the Peak Tram. It was a cloudy day and I wasn't sure if there would be much of a view, but unsure if I'd ever be back to the city, I bought my tickets and rode up the side of the mountain in the tram. It was a steep journey, and once I emerged I found myself inside of a cloud at the top.
It wasn't the view I'd hoped for, but it was cool nonetheless. You could see the fog floating by, people disappeared behind the thick layer of white.
Aside from the tram, also situated at the top of the mountain was a shopping mall. I decided to browse a few of the shops, finding all sorts of awesome unique items that I persuaded myself not to buy based on lack of use for them. After I'd spent a decent amount of time in the mall, I returned outside to find that the skies had begun to clear! It was a great time to go head to the viewing platform. Although it was still hazy, I was able to see the skyline of the city and snap dozens of photos of it. I spent awhile up there enjoying the view and sipping a cup of coffee, enjoying my lovely life.
Once I felt ready to head to a lower altitude, I got back into the tram and rode it to the ground. I decided to gradually make my way back to the metro station, wandering in the general direction with no real idea of where I was going. Fortunately, I catch on quite quickly when it comes to familiarizing myself with places. I found my way to the station just in time for the rain clouds to reach the city. By the time I reached the hotel, it was a massive downpour and I retreated to my room where I dined on seafood fried rice and napped before the long journey back to my desert home!
Once again, I'm jet lagged and dazed and confused. It seems my jet setting ways are finally catching up to me! My sleep habits are all over the place lately!


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