After spending so much time in Taipei, I naturally use it as my yardstick for other cities. I always thought it was easy being a foreigner in Taiwan, but Hong Kong is Westerner paradise—EVERYTHING is in English, so I didn’t have to break out my shoddy Mandarin to point at menu pictures. Even as a confused tourist, getting around was a (theoretical) breeze. It’s my own fault that I can’t see or read road signs—but hey, this gave me 95% more opportunities to be offered massages.
And such diversity! In Taiwan you can go the day without seeing a foreigner, but I couldn’t tell you how many languages I heard in Hong Kong. Causeway Bay was a great base for exploring town, and I did the obligatory tram to The Peak, plus a quiet afternoon trip to Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian gardens. I sat down to get some writing done, but the security guard said “using that device is not suitable.” Oh well! Instead, I parked at fun cafes, and spent a day coworking at The Hive, which is across the street from a fabulous Indian vegetarian restaurant (Khana Khazana). Give me writing time and a spicy curry, and I’m a happy girl.
Hong Kong tranquility, chaos, and noms
Certain parts of Hong Kong are so similar to areas in Taipei, but I think I prefer Taiwan for the long haul. Hong Kong may be more foreigner-friendly by nature, but Taiwan is actually friendly, and Taiwanese people are much more polite than their HK counterparts. In the overall atmosphere of chaos, I think I’d lose it if I had to deal with that level of line cutting and pushing every day. Plus, my empirical evidence suggests that the milk tea in Taiwan is better than the Milk Tea in Hong Kong–and I am the expert on such things.
Even though I was only in town for a handful of days, I had a blast and got tons of work done. Now I better stop blogging and finish my next novella before I get in trouble : )
Bouncing about Asia does crazy things to my weight. When I’m holed up in my apartment in Taipei, the situation can get ugly–like body by bubble tea and cheese bread, ugly.
But the travel diet never fails. Once I hit the road, I follow a simple food and exercise regimen. I’ve already dropped a few pounds in Hong Kong. Want to give this miracle diet a try? Here’s how!
Step 1: Get lost (a lot). Walk five miles in the wrong direction. If you need help getting lost, follow a funky international GPS signal that’s off by a few blocks. Soon enough you’ll be on some sketchy backroad, and power-walking back to civilization really burns those calories.
Step 2: Carry all your possessions with you at all times. Don’t trust hostel security. Bring your back pack, day pack AND rolly suitcase with you wherever you go. Schlepping your gear is an easy way to incorporate weight training when you can’t access the gym.
Step 3: Make sure to stay in hilly areas, and avoid hotels/hostels that have an elevator. I love arriving at my place of residence late at night and hauling my many bags up as many flights of stairs as you can throw at me.
Step 4: Embrace restaurant miscommunication. Just today I was pretty sure I ordered a curry and ended up with a few bits of bread. Calorie savings, right there!
Step 5: Follow cockroaches to find the best street food carts. A quick bout of dysentery is just the thing to jumpstart your weight loss.
Step 6: When traveling in tropical and subtropical climates, make sure you’re out and about from 11-3 each day. You’ll thank me when you start sweating off buckets of water weight!
Step 7: Avoid all forms of private and public transportation. Walk everywhere!
I’ve done at least some of these things, and it worked for me!
Disclaimer: I am not a diet or fitness expert (but I do own a Shake Weight)
Okay kidd0s–I’m off to Hong Kong this weekend and looking forward to some exploring and hot-desking. This assumes that I can get everything packed up in Taiwan. I’m chugging along, but bouncing from country to country leaves plenty of loose ends to tie. Once I get my possessions onto the slow boat, I’ll be just about good to go.
As always, leaving is bittersweet. I’ll miss the friends and coworkers who’ve been my family in Asia, but who knows? Last time I left Taiwan, I had no intention of returning, so this time I’m not placing any bets. As they say, livin’ is easy in Taipei, and I can’t complain about my years in the home of pudding-flavor milk, pineapple bread, and lovely, friendly people.