by Joshua Books (currently in Hong Kong)
You can find his blog in our blogroll to the right, or here.
Just so the world and my viewers can gain a sense of my daily trip to and from class I decided one day to photograph every step along the way. The twenty minute commute consists of a two minute walk out of the Caritas Bianchi Lodge (sounds much nicer than it is) to the MTR (Public Metro). Once I hustle down a couple flights of stairs I swipe my octopus card, granting me access to the train system here in Hong Kong. The octopus card is comparable to a debit card, but can be used on all public transportation, 7/11 stores, most restaurants, and even for picking up “bar-girls” in Wanchai. That last one was a joke, but seriously I don’t understand why the United States does not adopt this system, it is both brilliant and convenient for all users.
After I get through the gates I take an escalator or more stairs down to my rail, ofcourse depending on how I am feeling that morning. It hasn’t phased me, but I commute to school with thousands of people daily. The guidebooks and census figures were not lying, this is one of the most densely populated areas in the world! I am convinced that either the Chinese take their time walking on streets or Americans have longer legs than everyone! A steady brisk pace for me blows by the swarms of crowds, and with music pumping through my iPod it almost becomes some sort of game. When it rains it pours here in Hong Kong, and suddenly everybody just whips out umbrellas. I did notice almost every single person you pass does have some sort of bag, whether it be a backpack, purse, or satchel. The fact that I am tall in Hong Kong makes it extremely dangerous to pass people when it is raining. My eyes have been close to poked out multiple times by the edges of the abundant umbrellas.
After four stops and fifteen minutes on the MTR I hop out of the train, take an escalator up to the station, and exit at Festival Walk. This venue is an eight floor mall that contains stores from H&M to Emporio Armani and restaurants from KFC to gourmet French cuisine. Understanding that I would have to pass through a shopping complex just to get to class put some interesting thoughts in my head. I wanted to make sure this would not cause any problems with procrastination, so I hardly eat at the restaurants provided. When I do walk around and shop in the mall it is usually for snacks and materials at Taste, a western style supermarket. I did have a gourmet pizza and bruschetta at Pizza Express, it was well worth the $9 US.
Once I pass through the mall and go up three floors I’m on street level. I simply walk across the street to the SU Abroad Center where 4/5 classes are held. There is a great cafe right on campus that serves up cheap western style meals and snacks. While the price is great, I feel that eating here on the reg does not allow me to embrace the culture to its full potential. My orders include french fries (64 cents US), bagel and cream cheese (1.55), peanut butter and jelly sandwich (78 cents), and chicken paninis (3.35). The garden cafe is a savior at times, but there is much more value on the streets of Yaumatei.