Transsiberian, Day 21: Farewell, Hong Kong

Monday, January 16th, 2016

Last night, for some unknown reason, my mind and body fell asleep at 4am, and yet I woke up before my alarm at 8:30am, so I could further enjoy that foot smell.

The woman at the hostel recommended a place nearby for breakfast, so off I went to Café de Coral, a very cheap fast food joint that apparently attracts lots of old businesspeople types. I purchased my meal: a crispy fried porkchop, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee (all for under $4!) and was surrounded in line by men and women in their 40s and 50s wearing suits. Not the type of crowd I'd expect at a $4 breakfast joint.

The food was great, as any single-color (brown, golden brown, golden) fast food meal should be, and I am surprised with myself at enjoying the pork chop as much as I did. I hate pork unless it's slathered with BBQ, but I guess if you fry it up, it tastes delicious. Lesson learned.

The woman at the hostel suggested I try the nearby bookstore for something to do in the morning, but warned that it may be closed. I had only until 10am before I needed to start heading to the airport. Of course, with my luck, the bookstore opens at 10am. Lovely.

I convert my remaining Hong Kong dollars to USD and as usual it's weird to see your own boring green paper currency for the first time in three weeks.

I return to the hostel, gather my things and I'm off to the airport.

This airport is glorious. It's just so big and airy and roomy and despite it being super busy, you could still do a twirl in the middle if you so wish (I didn't. I'll save that for the ferries of the world).

Conveniently, there was a post office in the airport, where I was free to purchase some quite lovely postcards AND mail them! Unfortunately, they could only take credit cards for the card purchase but not the stamp purchase. As I was fresh out of HKD, I was able to pay in a combination of some HK coins and a single USD. So strange.

I swiftly went through security, customs and immigration without a hiccup, but then found that I must have entered on the exact opposite end of the airport than I needed to, since my route to my gate was three sets of escalators downstairs, a train, and three escalators upstairs.

After a brief delay at the gate, the flight finally boarded, but not without one more security check (it was like a final sendoff from Asia, quite bittersweet), wherein the officer opened my bag, touched nothing, lightly massaged the sides, and then let me board.

But it was United, and United is the worst, so of course my 12-hour flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco didn't have personal entertainment. But it did have an outlet, so I was able to blog the entire time. But I had United again from San Fran to Chicago, and there was no entertainment at all. Oh well, travel woes.

Despite the United issues, my trip ended on two positive notes: 1) I found my way to the CTA train in my own hometown of Chicago without getting lost for the FIRST TIME EVER and 2) I got some delicious Papa John's for dinner to welcome me back to the states.