I thought I might need about an hour or two to arrive in Hong Kong, but by the time I arrived at the visa office, it was almost one in the afternoon.
Hong Kong itself was crowded, with narrow streets between tall walls of buildings, overhanging signs forming a kind of tunnel for the congested river of taxis and cars. I loved how cramped Hong Kong felt, as well as the topography. Not only did hills rise around the city, contributing a pleasant backdrop, but the roads themselves rose and dropped, adding a kind of character that doesn't exist in flat Shanghai.
I checked in and met my only other room-mate in the 10 bed dorm, a Belgium freelance translator, also living in Shanghai. He took me to his favorite restaurant, a tiny place about a kilometer away, with no tables, just a long and narrow bar running along one wall.
Next morning, I descended the urine-smelling, cigarette-littered stairwell of Chungking Mansions and out into the tropical downpour. My damp clothes clung to my skin, but at least the rain cooled the city off some and I preferred it to the muggy and stuffy heat of the dorm.
I wandered through the narrow streets and found myself at the famous and touristy "Avenue of the Stars" at the edge of the bay, but I began to hear thunder and the rain fell so hard, swept under my umbrella by the wind, that, even with an umbrella, I ended up soaking wet. I took refuge in a cafe for awhile while I dried off (at least a little bit) and put my phone in a small bag with the paints I use for journaling.
When I arrived at the visa office and collected my passport, I looked in my backpack and found the small bag with my paints and phone missing. I retraced my steps, but found it nowhere.
Consoling myself in the fact that at least no one took my wallet or passport, I continued my day of wandering and eventually returned to my hostel. But the next day, when I got off the bus at the Shenzhen airport, as the bus pulled away, I realized my wallet was missing, too. I spent too long trying to locate the bus, hoping that my wallet was still on the bus, as I was the last person to de-board, but my efforts proved futile. But, even at such a disparaging moment, a stranger gave me 100 yuan, no strings attached, because she overheard that I had lost my wallet, and would have given me 200 if I had accepted. If there's a silver-lining in this anecdote, it's that there are always people willing to help, selflessly, someone in need.
All in all,