I couldn’t wait to see Hong Kong. It’s not because it was our last stop and China gave us a hard time. As a movie lover I absolutely adore Cantonese movies. One of my favorite directors is Wong Kar-Wai. Kar Wai’s first film which I’ve watched was Chungking Express. It made a huge impression on me, and I felt in love with its atmosphere. I watched it over and over again, every time imagining that I’m walking along the streets of Hong Kong.
We arrived to Hong Kong by ferry on 26.02 and got to the area called Mongkok by subway – there was our – the cheapest in town – Jiang Xi Guest House. We booked a room in advance using the booking portal but once we got there it turned out that there was no room for us. Finally, they assigned us to another hostel, the room had no windows and the doors did not close… but with a roof above our heads and without cockroaches, we didn’t complain 😉
When we left our stuff – we went out for the night (we arrived to HK in the late afternoon) sightseeing. Hong Kong is definitely not China, at least it is not like the rest of China. People there are more polite, everything seems to be in order, the drivers don’t constantly try to cause a traffic accident with such enthusiasm. We were on a night market, where we bought t-shirts and experienced very easy bargaining. We tried fermented tofu and we couldn’t eat it … 臭豆腐 Chou doufu – literally means stinky tofu. It is not just the name, this tofu really stinks! There are different styles of serving this dish in Hong Kong it is served in the form of street food. Its smell accompanied us throughout China, we thought it might tastes differently than smells, that maybe there is something zesty about it, which makes many people eat it … But not. It tastes just as bad as it smells.
Later, when we walked away from the ATM a security guard asked us in perfect English if everything was okay. After four weeks in China, it was a little shock. But that isn’t surprising in HK, which was ruled by the British so much more people are familiar with English. Even on the road, HK people drive on the left side like in the UK.
Enjoying a successful day we returned to the dark room and went to sleep, for the next day we planned an intensive tour. 27.02 Morning after breakfast I decided to make a flight check-in. It seemed to us that we have a flight with Emirate Airlines after midnight 29.02 but we must’ve been very tired when we check that because it turned out that the flight is on 28.02 so we had to be in the airport on 27.02 evening! Well, it meant a day less for Hong Kong, but fortunately we realized that early enough..
Unfortunately, it was not the end of problems. I did check in for Jakub, and when I started to do my own (tickets were bought separately from two different bank accounts) information popped up saying that I needed to do my check-in at the airport and brought a credit card which I used for paying for the ticket with me the card and made a small fee .. Apparently this was to confirm, that it was surely I, who bought the ticket. Okay, if it was required – I would bring the card .. but I didn’t have it there! I had paid for the ticket with a prepaid card, which I left at home because I only use it for online payments.
Ok, no panic. On the internet we found the address of the Emirate Airlines office in Hong Kong. We went there quickly. We had presented our situation calmly, and they treated us with a a rough, short answer. “When you bought the ticket you accepted terms and conditions. You must have the card, without it you will not board the aircraft.” What? Have you already had such a situation, and the passenger really could not fly?” “Yes, everything is in the rules.” We asked about the possibility of using wifi (in the office there was plenty of room and no one except of us) but they told us that we can go to the office buildings vis-a-vis ..
There we couldn’t connect with the internet, but in the end we found wifi outside. Now what? What to do? The only thing we could think of was a) to lie that we had been robbed (and thus lost the card) b) to try to provide documents proving the ownership of the card. We decided to point b. This meant that I needed to call my mom! It was morning in Hong Kong, night in Poland. We woke my mom who was very worried and said that she would do everything in her power; However, bank was going to be open in few hours.. a lot of time ahead so there was a chance she could not make it. We checked alternative tickets to Warsaw, which with Aeroflot didn’t cost much but at that time our budget was exhausted and we couldn’t afford the additional significant costs. Waiting, calling, talking with Emirates, writing emails, searching for tickets took a lot of time and stress and it was our last day in HK. We decided to use the remaining time somehow …
We took the subway and then the Peak Tram to Victoria Peaks where a fantastic view of the city unfolded to us (we somehow preferred skyscrapers in Hong Kong to skyscrapers in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou). There Jakub went to the tourist information desk where he complained about Emirates’ problem again. He spent about an hour there, the staff were very helpful and they even called the Emirates’ hotline. We didn’t find out anything new. After Victoria Peaks we went to the Avenue of Stars, where many famous people left their handprints. There we found Bruce Lee. We went back to the hostel next to the Chungking Mansion buildings.
All the time we were thinking that maybe I wouldn’t be allow to get on the plane and how hard it would be. When I flew to Japan we decided that we would never split up… It was really depressing, none of us wanted to wait in Hong Kong for a new flight, with the feeling of lost money, time and a sense of overwhelming stress.
At around 5pm we had everything. Proof of the ownership of a credit card, photocopy of a card, proof of purchasing the ticket… We decided that it is better to be at the airport early. With trembling legs we approached Airport staff and… It worked. With the baggage full of memories we flew back to Poland. First we had a plane to Dubai, full of Asians. In the UAE we changed to the next one, full of Poles. With a tear of nostalgia we heard the familiar complaining “This is a luxury airline? I’ve sat on a better seats! Why haven’t we taken off yet?’. We were relieved, actually, we started to miss Orient 😉 but we missed Poland even more!