It’s Thursday morning here and I’m sitting in a coffee shop — the Pacific Coffee Company — where I just discovered there are no free or discounted refills on a cup of joe. On the upside, I am drinking their Seattle City Blend, today’s special brew. Not exactly Seattle’s Best, but it’ll do.
And evidentially I’ve arrived in the middle of a monsoon, one that forced me to purchase a cheap, flimsy umbrella for about $5 bucks. Add in the humidity and it’s impossible to stay dry.
Weather aside, it’s been great (for a lack of a better term) to be back in Hong Kong. Although I haven’t been in this city for about 15 years, there’s something familiar about it — the crush of people, the bustle, even the thick, humid air.
For my first morning, I was running around town thanks to the fantastic and magical Octopus Card. Let me explain: imagine if the Flexpass in Seattle or the Metrocard in New York not only paid for subways, the light rail and buses but also for garages around town and for a six-pack at the local 7-11. You pay $150 (in HK dollars), $50 of which the city keeps as a deposit until you return the card. And you can keep adding money on it — it’s like a personal debit card, without the hassle of a pin number. Just swipe and go. Ingenious.
Using the card my mom gave me before the trip, I trekked from Causeway Bay to Hung Hom to purchase my train ticket to Guangzhou for next week and to Central, where I inquired about my visa status for China (which is all good, in case you were wondering) at the China Overseas Building. Fast, easy, simple.
But as if proving my naivety and lack of vigilance, I lost the card. Before lunch. After I had added $50 on it. Brutal. I am not, however, going to blame myself. I’m going to point my finger at one of the millions and millions of pickpockets inhabiting the city. Even though my cell phone and cash stayed safely in my pockets. There, I feel better already.
So now I have a new Octopus card after begrudgingly paying $150 for it. Don’t worry, I’ll hold onto this one with clenched fists. I won’t be losing it — unless another opportunistic pickpocket strikes.