I know, I know. It’s been too long without a blog again. I can only blame life, which continues to move along at top speed, leaving me little time to update you guys on everything that goes on in said life. These days, work is mostly to blame. We’re two months from semester’s end, and as I have 大班, or big class, I’ve got a graduation to plan and execute, in addition to 32 in-class hours and all attendant prep and grading outside the classroom. Hardly an ideal time to take a vacation.
love me some Hong Kong.
On the other hand, it’s an excellent time to take a breather and avoid burnout. So I’m going to China! Heading back “home” to Beijing for eight days, and I’m beyond excited. I’ve been cleared to enter the Land of Red again, though getting my new visa was anything but easy. Constantly changing visa laws always make it difficult to gauge the current situation on gaining entry to China, but I did some research and nailed down what I thought was a simple, efficient plan.
For obvious reasons, there’s no Chinese Embassy in Taiwan, so I’d have to use a third-country option to get my hands on a visa. It would be cheaper to fly to Hong Kong and apply in person with China’s Foreign Ministry than to send my passport out using a Taiwan-based agent, so I booked a flight for a Friday morning in late April, thinking I’d apply for the visa that afternoon using the rush service, collect it a day later, and be back in Taipei by Sunday night. And I’d get to chill in Hong Kong for three days, to boot.
But, wait. Two years out, and I already seem to have forgotten who I’m dealing with. Nothing’s easy when it comes to China, and my visa wasn’t about to become the exception. After a lot of back and forth and paper shuffling and showing all my previous Chinese residency permits, I was told the only visa I could possibly be issued was the new reciprocal ten-year, unlimited-entry type – and that it wouldn’t be ready until Monday evening.
I gritted my teeth and changed my flight, immensely grateful to HK Airlines for not slapping me with a fee, since I was about to hand over a hefty chunk of change to the Chinese government. I frantically Lined and called coworkers back in Taiwan to find subs to cover my Monday classes. Next, I whited-out my Taipei company and address on my visa form and replaced them with false American information, since Chinese visas must be applied for outside of China (and yes, where the Foreign Ministry is concerned, that runaway, self-governing little island is indeed still a part of China). I finally jumped on the good old A11 to Causeway Bay, checked into the same old place I always stay in Hong Kong, and spent a miserable four days worrying whether my visa would actually come through.
Sure, I was stressed about the visa, but I still had an amazing long weekend because HONG KONG. I love this city. It’d been almost eight months since my last visit, and the last couple times I’ve been I’d mostly just met friends and eaten and shopped for essentials that we don’t have in Taipei. No matter how long or short I’m in the city, I always make time for a stroll along the TST because THAT SKYLINE. An even more stunning view of the city can be found from atop Victoria Peak, though, and when Saturday dawned clear and blue, I knew I wanted to go take in the city view from above. I should do this every time I’m in HK because it’s an incomparable sight.
love this city, love this view.
Hong Kong from Victoria Peak.
end of April, but chilling this high up.
can’t get enough.
I stayed up there until after dark because the night view is stellar.
Hong Kong also has some incredible hiking trails, especially on the outlying islands. I decided to take the five-hour Dragon’s Back loop on Hong Kong Island, and ended up at Big Wave Bay in Shek O, where I spent a few hours reading on the beach.
trekking through bamboo jungle.
I like hiking on Hong Kong Island because many of the trails run beside water, and offer views of the city as well.
just a lil r and r.
definitely elements of Britain here.
mid-levels in central. thanks heavens for the famed escalator system.
I love riding the trams with open windows.
HK’s neon lights.
my second favorite skyline.
I spent Sunday with a friend from Beijing that I hadn’t seen in almost two years. She lives in Shenzhen now, a relatively easy trip into Hong Kong. We met up in Central and took a ferry over to Lantau Island, where we spent the afternoon chilling in Tai O before heading back to HK Island for some Tim Ho Wan and night sights. By the time Monday rolled around, (you know, the day I should have been working), I was in full vacation mode. I took a book and some writing and went to the Starbucks on the TST to just sit and stare across at the skyline for hours.
the beauty of HK.
I caught a late afternoon bus out to the airport, where I discovered my worrying had been for nothing. I have been issued a TEN-YEAR UNLIMITED ENTRY visa to China. I’m set for the next decade. Even though I argued against it at first, I realize that this is actually completely in my favor. A single-entry Chinese visa applied from HK was running me USD300 anyway. For only $150 more, I can go in and out of China whenever I want, as opposed to paying the fee and going through this entire hassle again.
a pharmacy window.
Got a flight in a couple hours and nothing’s packed… stories from China to come!