Somehow, between the crowded buses, the jetlag, and the air-conditioner next to the head of my hostel bed, I caught a cold. Luckily, I brought airborne (hi Bob!) and cough drops, so I’m one step ahead of the game– though of course Causeway Bay has a medicine shop on every corner so I would’ve been fine either way. I had soup noodles and tea for breakfast and am chugging bottles of Bonaqua (made by coca-cola), which claims to be the “Official Water for 2010 FIFA World Cup” in hopes of squashing the sickness before I leave for Vietnam tomorrow night. It’s mostly just annoying because I’m cooped up in my room during my 2nd to last day here! Speaking of the World Cup, I haven’t been watching any of the soccer games, but they’re all broadcast from this gigantic TV on the World Trade Center building where I had dinner last night at an awesome Korean restaurant with twelve of Ian’s friends (hi Ian!)
Had my first WTF, China, moment yesterday on the bus back from Repulse Bay (a beautiful tropical looking beach where I was the only female in the water… and also the palest/largest person on the beach). The bus-ride back was SO SLOW– it took about half an hour alone just to board the bus, and then we sat in stand-still traffic that would rival LA in its worst rush-hour of history. I sat next to a really nice Italian architect in the back of the bus where the exhaust pipe seemed to be blowing backward (as in, INTO the bus rather than OUT) and the air conditioner was no match for the body-heat of a hundred sweaty beachgoers crammed together into one vehicle. The architect and I entertained each other by pretending to pull the emergency exit lever every time the lane next to us moved forward a few inches, and feigning suicide when the sleeping man across from us gurgled or snorted in his sleep.
Anyway, eventually I made it back to downtown and had dinner, and dropped by the supermarket to grab a bottle of water on my way back to the hostel. It was then that I experienced WTF, China, Part II. The lines for the checkout were each about three thousand people long– at eleven-thirty at night, and I stood in it with my ONE measley bottle of water for a full fifteen minutes before realizing I hadn’t moved so much as one step. I don’t know if the cashiers are just really slow (weird, for a culture that in other ways seems so efficient), or if God just really hated me yesterday, but either way I ended up ditching the line, and my purchase, only to find that there was no exit from the store other than proceeding through the checkout. Tourist fail! When I recounted this whole story to roommate Jane, she laughed at me and told me “wait til you get to mainland China.” Apparently I’m in for a real culture shock. She says that things there can feel so frustrating and difficult that everytime she so much as breaks a pen, she shakes her head and tsks,… “Ch-ch-ch-China.”
In all seriousness, I can’t wait.