Hong Kong Here We Come
TMK 02 - 28 - 2010

Tuesday Feb. 16th [on plane to Hong Kong]: traveling from Siem Reap Well who might have guessed that I, Tyler Kirages, might have provided a little excitement and adrenaline rush for the morning. I'll choose to blame it on the early morning and exhaustion (knowing full well that it is really my fault and I choose to write about this experience because of a happy ending). I put on my neck pouch for the day, containing my passport, and forgot my money belt lying on the floor next to my bed at the Casa Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I did not realize that I was missing the most essential piece of this trip until we had to get money out to pay for a 'suspicious airport tax' at Siem Reap International. I knew I was in a real pickle and that leadership would not be too happy since we had a personal valuables discussion just days ago. Les fortunately had the hotel phone number and made the call as suspense grew in my mind as to whether they would find it or not. The call back was a huge relief; they found it exactly where I left it next to the bed and were sending it to the airport via scooter ASAP. Sure enough about 15 minutes later the reception worker himself came running up with my money belt, all accounted for. This was a great cultural experience to see the pride that this man had in going beyond duty and being so gracious. (I knew that they would not ask for a tip but I obviously insisted for the savior-like efforts). I consider myself to be one lucky son of a gun!! Les and I made it to the gate with a few minutes to spare, nothing like a blood pumpin' WT4 experience. We landed in Hong Kong, after a couple of layovers, and moved through the airport without any snafu's. Our coach bus here was ultimate luxury with plenty of room for the long legs. As we drove from the airport I learned from our guide "Bill" that Hong Kong is actually a series of a few main islands, with many outlying smaller. We drove out of Lantau, by the New Territories island, and our YMCA hotel is in the Kowloon Section, which is crazy close to Victoria Harbour and the view that I imagine of the Hong Kong skyline. A WT4 buddy knows two TCOMM majors from Ball State that are currently studying for a semester in Hong Kong; it was great to meet them and be able to experience the student life our first night in HK. A few of us went out with them for a night on the town in search of some cheap food (local style). We took "the subway", which in HK is a network of underground pedestrian tunnels that makes cross town adventures fast and convenient. They call the actual metro the MTR, and this is the transportation we took to the 'Mong Kok' district. This area hosted the best night markets we have seen yet, and the pedestrian hustle and bustle reminded me of my visions of New York, although I have never been. Apparently 7/11 is the popular place for the university students to grab a cheap beer, so we participated in the local practices before we had one of the coolest meals on the trip, a do-it-yourself Korean style BBQ. Burners built into our table and a raw buffet of limitless meats for our cooking pleasure. We grabbed chicken, pork, beef, fish, things we could not identify and started cooking. Chop sticks were flying everywhere, food was flying into my mouth; it was a fast paced, but not rushed, eating experience where everybody shares everything. My two favorites were the spic pork and, yes, the ox tongue. The most interesting, which may very well have been the source of my slight stomach problems the next day, was the 'baby cuddle fish'. It looked exactly like a small squid, legs intact, in a spicy red sauce; complete with the chewy texture. A loooong day of excitement and new experiences on WT4 comes to an end. bottom right: [partial view of the Hong Kong skyline over Victoria Harbour] top right: [our Cambodian tour guide, Sophana, outside of Angkor Wat]

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