Where have you all been? I feel like I haven't talked to you in aaaaaaages!!! I thought you were going to keep up with this blog about your new life in Hong Kong and all your new experiences and triumphs and disappointments and... oh wait-- that's what I was supposed to do.
If you've read some of my past posts, you know that I've been struggling to adjust to life here. I'm not gonna lie, it's been rough.
But one of the things that I absolutely looooooove about living here versus Atlanta is the transportation system. Before we left the states, I sold my car to my best friend. It was expensive just shipping a few boxes to HK, so our cars were kind of out of the question. But we weren't all that worried. When we visited this country last August, we only used cabs and trains to get everywhere we needed to go. As a resident, I've learned to take advantage of the bus system, too.
ATLiens, imagine if the MARTA ran every 2 minutes and took you virtually everywhere in and outside of the Perimeter. Imagine not having to sit in traffic to drive to a train, but one of the 5–6 bus options outside of your apartment that will take you to a train station or a short walk away from your destination. The stations are frequent and easily accessible (unless you have a stroller. Then good luck.). Now imagine that the bus costs $.75 and the train about a $1. Or maybe you want a more direct root. 50% of all the cars around you are inexpensive taxis that'll run you about $4–10!
The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) (I had no idea what that stood for. I just googled it.) is the subway system that runs through Hong Kong. There are stations everywhere and each station has multiple exits to take you around the area. 90% of the time, a train will come every 2–3 minutes. The fares are based on how far you go. The most we've paid was for the train to Disneyland (because Disneyland has it's own train line and station) and that was about $23 HKD. That's like $3 USD for a ride to Disney land on a train covered in Mickey Mouse!
We also saw MONKEYS at the Sha Tin MTR station on the way to ikea! VIDEO'S HERE!!
Besides the obvious perks of traveling around here from day to day, there is a part of it that gives me anxiety. There are these large vans called "mini buses" They get to bus stops randomly, but more frequently than ordinary buses, they seat 16 and if they're full, they pass stops and other mini buses unless someone calls out for the driver to stop. And therein lies my problem. How do you get a Chinese bus to stop when you don't speak Chinese?
When I first started riding the mini bus, no matter where I was going, I would ride the bus until someone called out to stop the bus at my stop or the bus reached the end of the line. And though I could probably sustain this method for however long we plan to live here, it's not exactly conducive to traveling in the rain with a toddler and a stroller.
Our awesome real estate agent taught us a phrase to signal the driver. I'd write it here, but pssssh no. I will not embarrass myself on my own blog. Well-- I will not unintentionally embarrass myself with blatant misspelling. Honestly, I wouldn't even know where to start with spelling the phrase.
Ok, fine. I'll try to say it. Press play below:
I think it took me at least 5 additional trips on the mini to actually work up the courage to use the phrase, but once I did, something amazing happened. The bus...stopped. Go figure!
So now I know three phrases in Cantonese:
- how to say : thank you
- how to say my address
- how to stop the mini bus
By the way, did the audio clip play button work for you? No? hehehe... I know. It's just an image. I thought it would be funny! It is funny, right? RIGHT?? Look, if you really want to hear me speak another language, give me a call on whatsapp or skype and I'll tell you all three in succession like one long Cantonese phrase and then you'll be reeeeeeally impressed.
The thing about only knowing three phrases of the primary language of your country, if you get really good at those three phrases, sometimes people assume you know more. Case in point: I was heading home from ikea with Aria and a giant blue shopping bag. I'm about 2 km away so I head to a taxi stand. Opening the door, I give the cab driver my address in Cantonese and place everything on the backseat. He then proceeds to ask me a question in not English. I shrug and say, "I don't know, sorry!" Then I repeat my address, maybe he didn't hear it the first time. But then he starts saying more and more and he's getting louder and louder. Dude, which one of my three phrase can help you understand?? "Thank you" "Address" "Please stop the bus"
So he finally starts driving and yelling out things and I'm sitting there shrugging and chuckling because what else am I supposed to do? We're in the area that I live, he was at the taxi stand so I assume that he knows the area. But once we get to an area I recognize, he says, in mild toned, sweet English, "Take a right here?"
"Yes," except I think I said it in Cantonese. Or Japanese. Who knows? I do watch a lot of anime.
The rest of the ride consisted of similar directional phrases guiding him to our apartment. I think he also told Aria to be careful as she waited for me by the cab. SMH.
But whatever! These things happen. I'm getting pretty good at navigating Hong Kong and Hong Kong seems to be getting used to me. I even have a few freelance clients and a helper starting in a couple of weeks. Keep praying for us, family. And we'll keep praying for you.