Leaving on a Jet Plane
Sunday, (Or is it Monday?) Staring at the tiny screen mounted on the tiny chair in front of me, I see a tiny plane hovering over a tiny land mass. Cruising at 34,000 feet above the earth and 540 miles per hour, we are covering some big distances as we close in on our final destination, relatively speaking, of course. By “closing in”, I mean we are about 4,300 miles away with another 8 hours of flight time. In one word, the flight to Hong Kong was long. Mind-numbingly so. Picture spending 16 hours at the DMV only at this one they serve you food that’s way too salty and the seats are made for toddlers. Luckily, this is a newer plane and the movie selection rivals that of your local RedBox. The TV shows are great too. There is even a really cool feature that allows you to form chat rooms with other passengers on the plane. Kind of weird, and I think the other passengers realize this, as all the chat rooms sit empty. There are rooms labeled “Technology”, “Travel Tips” and other various forms of entertainment but everyone seems occupied with iPads, iPhones, E-Readers and other modern-day distractions. Personally, I’m glad they were invented, I loathe airplane small talk. I’ll spare all the boring details about my flight in. After all, that’s not what you came to this blog for:
(7 hours later) I’ve arrived. My first night was a blur, mainly because I was slightly disoriented from all the travel time. I was greeted by one of my new employers and friends, Paulo. We took a train ride into the heart of Hong Kong and dropped my luggage off at the place I will be staying at for the next 30 days. It’s small but having served in the military for 7 years, I am used to staying in small spaces. After leaving my place we then stopped by the gym. It’s a 2000 square foot facility on the ground floor (We can drop weights!) and centered on a busy street. Well, every street is a busy street, so that would be true regardless of where the gym was located. After the evening classes finished up, we went out for a wonderful dinner with Clare, another owner and some members.
The rest of the evening is a blur. I remember eating a lamb burger, throwing a bunch of my luggage around my room for no reason and falling asleep.
Wake up. Day 1. This is it. I’m ready for it.
I hit the snooze button. “I’ll try again in 30 minutes”
Ok, for real this time. I’m up and functioning.
I have a tip for beating jet lag. It’s simple, yet no one does it. Here it is, step by step.
1. Stay awake the night before flying. For example, I flew out of West Palm Beach on Sunday morning at 6am. Saturday night I slept for MAYBE an hour. I stayed awake on my flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth then on the 16 hour flight, I slept about 2 hours.
2. Land in final destination.
3. Enter a coma-like state.
That’s all there is to it. I know a lot of people make the mistake of getting drunk before they fly or taking a bevy of sleeping pills. They sleep the entire flight and then wonder why it takes a week to get over jet lag. Today, I walked around. A lot. Every one does it. The amount of foot traffic in this city is unreal and it doesn’t matter what time of day it is. There are hundreds of people in your line of sight no matter what direction you face. It can be a bit overwhelming and I foresee finding some quiet time being a problem. If you know me, you know I usually have a Starbucks iced coffee in my hand. First order of business was to find one.
It took 2 minutes.
I ordered my drink and felt an odd sense of comfort in this foreign land.
The rest of the week:
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll leave out the tidbits and minutiae of daily life. No matter what continent you are on, certain things never change. I eat food, albeit, extremely different foods. I sleep, just in a tinier bed and I work. Something most of you know the details of from my time at Cat 5 CrossFit. However, within the trivial day-to-day tasks, certain things stand out as obscure, weird and a little strange. That’s where this blog comes in. I hope to share the things that I find a little strange and exotic. As an american living abroad, this place is absolutely bananas and I am sure you will come to agree.
Macau is one of the special administrative regions of the Peoples Republic of China and is accessible by ferry, hydrofoil or, for the social elite, helicopter. Myself and a few gym members made the trip over by hydrofoil and after a smooth 40 minute ride, we arrived at “Asian Vegas”. The city is the definition of pandemonium. You had better be really comfortable with a little “bump and grind” if you want to visit anywhere in Asia, especially here.
We came to Macau with a mission: Eat good food, play some casino games. Easy in theory but actually getting it done? Mission: Impossible. The taxi system seemed to work on some kind of bribery system. Flash enough money and you get a ride. It took us almost 2 or 3 hours to finally decide that we weren’t going to make our planned reservations, so we settled for the “Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino”. A beautifully designed building that resembles a lotus flower in bloom. Admittedly, I don’t much about architecture, but I know what is appealing to me personally, and this place was gorgeous.
We then played the floor a little bit, well not really. I had to idea to play any of the table games, having only been to a casino once in my life. So I moved to the slots. I can’t go wrong here, right? Wrong. I quickly lost 200 bucks. (Hong Kong dollars, which is really about $25 in the US.)
We gave up on striking it rich and made our way slowly back to the ferry. When we hopped on the bus back, a man wanted a ride desperately. So much so that he saw it fitting to beat on the glass door of the bus like an enraged gorilla. This caused the bus driver to lose his mind. Granted, it was 10:30 at night and people have probably been busting his balls all day. The driver decided to call the police and it was a lot of bark and no bite. At times, however, in the midst of all the yelling and screaming in a language I didn’t understand, I thought for sure a video of that night would end up on worldstar.
Today marks the last day of my first week here in Hong Kong and already I feel like I’m part of a living, breathing organism. Everything flows efficiently, swarms of people cross the city effortlessly in subway, buses, trams, trains, taxis and cars. It looks like chaos but everything works. I can’t wait to see what the coming weeks bring. Thanks again for reading. Now, for those who hate reading, they say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Well, here are 9,000 words worth of images. (click to enlarge)