Delivering a Package

posted Aug 17, 2010, 12:22 AM by Charles Boling   [ updated Aug 17, 2010, 5:31 AM ]
Because we got in so early, our hotel room wasn't ready – it wouldn't be ready until 3:00. So in the airport we decided to first stop by the mission office. Ann Marie Van Blankenstein had given us a small package to deliver there. A friend of her's had a daughter serving in the Hong Kong mission. The mission home was located right next to the temple, and since we wanted to go to the temple the next day, we figured it was good to find out where it was. The problem, was that it was about 90 degrees outside with even higher humidity, we were hauling all our luggage, it was raining off and on (enough to get us wet, but not enough to protect us from getting burnt) and the mission home/temple was at least ½ a mile from the train stop – all up hill. Whew!

The underground train stations were air-conditioned somewhat, and the trains themselves were well ventilated so that when it was moving you had a strong breeze blowing on you and it made it quite comfortable. But hiking up toward the mission office wasn't pleasant. We hadn't really gone very far (even though it seemed like it) when I looked over and saw a Caucasian man crossing the street towards us. I'd say only about 5 percent of the population here is Caucasian. He had on a black name tag, but it looked funny. My first thought was “missionary?” but the tag didn't look right from a distance. But as he got closer and was obviously heading for us I saw that the reason it looked funny was the normal text on the tag was in Chinese and only his last name was in English. I then noticed his wife that was ahead of him. We all greeted each other warmly. I think they thought we were a little nuts carrying all our luggage up the hill. They were from Northeastern Washington and so we talked for a few minutes. They offered, and we agreed, to take the package for us to the mission office, since that's where they were headed. They knew the sister the package was for and assured us it would reach her.

So we gratefully headed back to the semi-air-conditioned train terminal to figure out our next move. We decided to head for the hotel (it was 11:15 by this point) and find out if there was a place we could stash our luggage until we could officially check in. So we boarded another train, transferred only once this time and got off at what we figured to be the closest station to the hotel. We got up on the road and walked, with all our luggage, there. It was a mixed feeling. Here, we were finally “experiencing” the “real” Hong Kong. Our route took us past many street vendors and shops and past lots of people. The problem was, we were hauling all this luggage and were miserably hot and tired! We had over 50lbs we were carrying – and large suitcases just aren't meant for those kind of distances. Our progress was slow, but we tried to make the most of it by soaking up everything around us. We ended up walking a long distance before reaching the hotel.

Along the way we noted all sorts of interesting things. First off, and I think most importantly, the people are VERY friendly here – whether they be vendors, pedestrians or civil workers. And yes, there are a lot of people, but the train system was definitely more crowded than the sidewalks along the road we were walking on. It was more like any typical large American city as far as the number of pedestrians. The lack of traffic I found quite startling. While there were cars parked along the sides of the roads almost consistently, the traffic wasn't any more crowded – or even less so – than that of say downtown Woodland. About half of the vehicles were privately owned cars. A quarter were taxis (all red and all looking the same) and a quarter were buses. Wow – my dad would find this city neat.

The British influence is very strong. We took several “lifts” (elevators), saw many “misspelled” signs (spelled in the British fashion) and found that all cars are have the steering wheel on the right, not the left. Now, as far as which side of the street they drive on, I'm not exactly sure yet. It's kind of hard to tell – it seems to be mostly a free-for-all when it comes to picking where you are going to drive... And they park their cars in the lanes of traffic – so you have a two lane (one way) street with no shoulders, and cars parked on both sides of the street. So it turns it into a one-lane (tight) road. Pedestrians use the crosswalks and crosswalk signals as suggestions. You can tell American tourists right away. They stand there waiting for the “walk” light to change before crossing. The locals look at it, look both ways and then cross no matter what it says.