December 21, 2004

weird day

I decided to take another bus trip- this time further south on HK isle to this area called Aberdeen. The bus ride was cool as we went through the harbor tunnel and the bus route wound around some very tall hillsides and Aberdeen is on the western coast. But when I got there, I was very disappointed as everything there was super overpriced and really not much new for me to see. I visited the promanade and there were ferry rides to get to a nearby island, tour boats and boats to get to floating restaurants. It looked cool enough but I'm not a big fan of boats and I saw some white people looking fancy so I know it's not anything I could afford anyway.

So, I start walking along after reading a sign about the ferry to Lamma, seeing I can't afford it and this old Chinese lady from another part of the pier comes jogging after me. She tells me there is a 30 min tour boat, very good and cheap. I tell her I'm not interested as I don't like to be on boats. She takes my hand and inisists in broken English that it's very good and starts walking me down to the boat. I tell her again, I don't like boats and I get sea sick. She tells me not to worry, no one has ever gotten sea sick on it. Umm, probably cause only people that like boats go on it, I tell her. No, no she says it's very good. So I bite and say okay, how much. She tells me 100 HKD (about $14 and 1/30th of my monthly pay). I laugh and tell her no way. So she asks me to name my price, I tell her 20 HKD, not to be a cheapskate but I really don't want a boatride. So she emphasizes it's 30 mins and I'm like that is 30 more mins than I'd like to spend on a boat. Her final offer is 50 HKD and at this point I just start to walk away and she finally frees me. I wonder if she charges the fancy dressed white people 200 HKD ;-)
Hong Kong is a place where one is expected to bargain and lots of things have no price on them because I guess they quote you the price they think you can afford. I'm rarely in this position as I hate shopping and when I do buy something, normally even if I could get it cheaper I wouldn't feel right. I'm willing to pay 10 USD for a nicely embroidered and lined linen dress.
One time, I had my shopping cart with me to go to the supermarket and just stopped by the Temple Street night market as it just started and wasn't too crowded. I needed to buy a backpack. I find a decent one and the guy tells me 120 HKD which is more than I wanted to pay so I say no thanks. He sees my shopping cart and says oh, you go to supermarket. I say yes and he tells me oh sorry, sorry, I meant 90 HKD, hahah. I guess the shopping cart showed him I'm not a tourist, heh. I consider but still balk at the price because now that I know he makes prices like that I feel like I need to bargain, to save face so to speak. So he asks me how much and I just arbitrarily say 75 HKD and he says deal. Maybe if I spoke Cantonese, I would have gotten it for cheaper ;-)
Later in the day, I joined a fitness gym called California Fitness. My mood is just effected too much but not being able to run or bicycle here and despite all the walking and stair climbing I do, I am gaining weight. Long story short, the 2500 HKD enrollment fee, 499 HKD processing fee gets waived and cause I only want 4 day a week at one center access as opposed to 7 days at all their 4 centers, the monthly fee comes down from 598 HKD to 398 HKD. Technically, it's a 12 month committement but they waived the required 2 month deposit for me and get this, without me giving them my phone #, bank acct # or a credit card! They don't even have my passport #, just my IL driver license number which is the only ID I carry with me. I know I ought to carry my passport and travel visa but I am afraid to lose them. They don't even have my address or employment information. I am glad they did all of that, otherwise there is no way I could have joined. As it is, 398 HKD a month is really pushing my budget but I figure it will get me out of my depression and I'll have more energy to do tutoring on the side. Also, I may not need to eat as much. I went in there with the mindset that I could afford 500 HKD a month so it worked out for me :-) I looked into cheaper alternatives but the YMCA is more expensive as you need to buy a membership and the HK parks dept fitness rooms near me are already booked through Feb.
Last bit on bargaining... tonight I walked through Mong Kok, an area close to me. I've been looking to replace a glass bracelet that a friend of mine, a parent of one of the kids, gave to me from Vietnam. The diameter of it is at most 3 inches and in Chicago, I had no success in putting it on. I went to give it back to her and she said, just relax and use some moisturizer and it'll work cause you have the same size hands and wrists as I do. I was very skeptical but tried again. I almost got it on but towards the end, I panicked and cause I was hasty it flew off my slippery hand and right into the sink where it cracked into 2 pieces. I felt really bad about this and always looked for a new one since then which was like 3 months ago.
So tonight, just wandering through this area, I happen upon a store that sells jewelry and usually I go right passed but this time I stopped to look at the window and find the same exact bracelet. So I go in and there is an elderly couple there who speak some English. I describe I want the brown sparkley glass one (they understood it to be "gold glass" though) and bring out 2 sizes.
I had it in mind to buy it if it was 100 HKD or less. They tell me the pair is for 130 HKD. I say, no that's too much and I only want one. They agree to let me have one for 100 HKD. Maybe I could have gotten it for less but 100 HKD was fair to me and since this was the first one I saw like that since I broke the other, I really did want it. I tell them I want the bigger one and they say but the smaller will fit and I don't believe them. I doubt even the larger one will fit at this point. But sure enough, they get it on me and it is too big, heheh. It was way too heavy and hung down too far, I knew I'd crack it by banging it into something. So they slide the bigger one off and go to put the smaller one on. Now my hand has already been a bit traumatized and expects some pain so I can't really relax. And this one is smaller. After some effort, my body felt the early signs of shock, heh, the smaller bracelet was on and it is much better for my wrist. They told me that I am too excited, I guess because I couldn't relax for the second time. They also looked kind of smug like, see we told you that you had a small hand and it'd fit.
I don't wear jewelry so it's taking me some getting used to but overall, I am really happy to have it on as well as to have the experience. I'd been wanting to get a tattoo lately but this seems to be a good substitute for now, especially since this experience also released some endorphins and as far as I am concerned, it's there permanently. I know if I need it off I can always just crack it but would rather not as broken glass anywhere near my wrist just doesn't appeal to me ;-) Of course, it's not the kind of glass that shatters into bitty pieces. The one I broke before, broke very smoothly so no need for worry about an accidental suicide. It's a nice reminder for me of my friend in Chicago,
that I need help from others sometimes, to trust other people's opinions and of course, it is very pretty.
I am too tired to post the pics from Sha Tin or the ones I took today but hopefully I can do some tomorrow.

Posted by Christine at December 21, 2004 11:21 PM