Last week I traveled into the future on an airplane. It was kind of awesome because I got to skip Monday entirely. No one likes Mondays.
I obviously haven't flown anything but Southwest in many a year, so I found my economy class seat on the giant Asiana airlines jet to be magical and full of glory. Aisle seat, yay! More legroom, yay! Personal tv, yay! Then they come by with the meals. It's a Korean airline, so they offered two - bibimbap (Korean deliciousness) or the "western" meal of beef stew and mashed potatoes. Being very obviously one of the only westerners on the flight, and definitely the only blonde, the stewardess switched the order in which she offered the meals:
"Would you like BEEF STEW...?" followed by a look that said "of course you do, I don't need to ask, silly American." When I paused, she proceeded to tell me about the Korean meal in great detail as if I had never heard of it before (to be fair, I'm sure some people who don't have a Koreatown near them probably haven't) to which I replied "I'll have the bibimbap." She handed me my meal with a combination of confusion and worry that I would be calling her back later to request the stew instead. I cleaned my plate.
After sitting for 15 hours, we finally reached Hong Kong, and there were a few things I immediately noticed: 1) It is absolutely beautiful, with lush green mountains and blue water and surprisingly Hawaii-esque, 2) driving (or being driven) on the wrong side of the road makes me believe I'm going to die at any moment, and 3) it is the equivalent of combining the heat and humidity of Houston, New Orleans, and Florida all into one.
Within hours I realized I hadn't packed NEARLY enough, since in my silliness I thought I could get through a whole day in a single outfit, as I do at home. No no, I sweat through the first one and have to change before dinner. To be fair, I sweat like an old man. I have walked around the city for hours a day for a week and have NEVER seen someone as sweaty as I was. I don't know if my body just isn't used to this weather and will adjust sooner or later, or if I legitimately make more sweat than 90% of the world's population, but either way I'm a disgusting, stinky mess within 30 minutes. I don't mind being shoved into the subway, but I feel terrible for the people stuck to my stinky body for the whole ride, and I sure as hell won't raise my arms to hold the handles from the ceiling, someone might die.
The money situation is also very weird. $100 US is approximately $800 HK. So I see a tshirt that's $115 and nearly shit my pants before realizing it's really about $14. Bargaining at the street market for a long jade bead necklace, the lady started out at $350, and even when I walked out with it at $100 I felt ripped off and like I just spent my life savings. I have a currency calculator app on my iphone so that in these moments I can look up the real price and relax knowing I got a pretty nice necklace for $11. And some fake Toms, same price.
It feels weird getting someone to make change for a $500 bill at a restaurant. I hand it over with this guilty look on my face like I just overburdened them for making change when in reality that's perfectly normal. It also kind of makes me feel like a high roller, which I'm obviously not, but I've never touched a $500 bill in US money. Let me dream.
My current obsession is finding the cheap CHEAP clothing stores that sell the tshirts (like the zebra one I posted) that say things like "finding light under starry love happy world." They're all about $5-6 and I'm coming home with so many of them it'll be all I wear. Or something weird like a cat wearing a crown that says "dance princess." You will all be jealous of my hilarious wardrobe upon my return.
A woman also approached me to sell me a "whitening" face mask at a cosmetics store, to which I stared at her in disbelief and wondered if she could actually see the color of my skin. True, Asians want whiter skin (why, I don't know), but the pale ass blonde chick? I'm good, thanks. Any paler and we'd be working on translucent.
I have still not found the elusive fake Louis. The ones at the markets were obvious fakes, with the slight changes to the logo that make them a little less illegal. I've been in crappy shop after crappy shop looking desperately for the really really good fakes that I know exist, and have not succeeded. This frustrates me but my determination will not waver. I will return home with the damndest most authentic-looking Louis Vuitton you've ever seen, mark my words.
For now, I must move the one foot over to my bed to watch an undisclosed number of episodes of the Killing before passing out and hauling it back off to work tomorrow, after taking a shower over the sink and toilet in my multi-purpose one-room bathroom. More photos coming soon.