Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day 1

I gotta arrival was a lot less smooth than I thought it would be. I finally land at about 11ish, grab a taxi, showed him the address to my serviced apartment, and proceeded to drive in circles. In all fairness, the taxi driver was a really nice guy and I'm sure he wasn't just running up his meter. Turns out that in Hong Kong, all the streets have English and Chinese names that don't always mean the same thing. For example, Elm Street in Chinese doesn't necessarily mean Elm or have anything to do with trees. I only had the English address. I would have given him the Chinese address if I could have found it on the hotel's webpage. Anyways, after a few misses, I give him the number and he calls them up for directions. We finally arrive around 12:30 at night.

At the apartments, it was a whole new mess. I was coming from Japan and I had my first months rental fee in yen. It turns out that they do not accept yen payment. This was confusing to me since when I made the reservation I told them I was coming from Japan. They had my address in Japan. They had my phone number in Japan. Wouldn't it be logical to expect payment in yen? I guess not.

Basically, I had three options: Hong Kong Dollars, US Dollars, or credit card. I didn't have the first two and my credit card limit is embarrassingly low. His advice? Grab a cab, drive 30 minutes away to a currency exchange center that may or may not be open, drive back another 30 minutes with a bag full of bills, all in the dead of night. Since that was not going to happen, I asked him to call the manager at home. No answer. How about the assisstant manager? No answer. He asks me to wait a minute with each my attempt to be reasonable, i waited an unreasonably long time. Long story short, we finally check online for the exchange rate between HKD and yen and I gave him that amount to hold with the promise I would change it to HKDs the next day. I didn't get into my room until 3:30am.

I'm a reasonable guy and seldom, if ever, get angry. The fellow behind the counter obviously felt bad for me, but he had to follow the rules of the establishment. Nevertheless, I was ready to kill someone. Welcome to Hong Kong.

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