It wasn't even 4 o'clock when my alarm went off. I had packed everything the night before, so it was a quick shower, and quick goodbye to a sleepy Steve, and I was out the door by 5.
Alison, who throughout the trip was always two doors down from us, had also just left. I met up with her in the hallway and we walked down the main floor together. After yesterday, we both knew how to get around Tokyo, but nevertheless, waiting for us in the lobby was our tour guide. She came over and gave us a hug, and her business card. I never realized how hard it must be for tour guides, who travel and meet people from all over the world, then say goodbye and never meet them again. Siako said she teaches English when she's not touring, so I wonder if she's doing that now.
She told us how to get to the subway system, and we parted ways for the last time. Alison and I walked a few blocks to the station, and waited. It was the first train of the day, and there were hardly anybody else there.
We rode the train in silence. It's always weird saying goodbye. I still remember when I first met Alison in Osaka, and I was worried about her touring the city at night. She has since shown me I was wrong, and that she can take care of herself. Apparently, everybody on the tour actually felt I was the one who needed to be taken care of, especially after I went "missing" in Kyoto.
We arrived at the airport, and I helped carry her luggage down the stairs. We found found her reception point first, and we hugged and said goodbye. I was hoping I would run into her on the other side of reception, but I didn't. I got my ticket then, dropped off my luggage, and just like when I arrived in Tokyo a week and a half ago to switch planes, I took a shuttle bus from administration to a different airport gate.
The plane ride to Tokyo was delayed, but otherwise uneventful. I didn't realize just how far apart those two cities are! It's about the distance from Toronto to Vegas, or London to Cairo.
The first thing I noticed about Hong Kong was something I had missed more than I would like to admit: English. Hong Kong belonged to Britain until 1997 when it reunified with China. As a result, English is spoken very fluently by everybody there. China is actually the most English speaking country in the world. Of course the quality of the English isn't perfect, but it's far better than my Mandarin!
I took the train to Kowloon Station, which is about 5 stops from the airport. It was raining out (surprise!) so my pictures of the city are skewed. But boy were they incredible! Once we left the airport, we were surrounded by gigantic buildings. I don't know if they were hotels or apartments. The airport isn't too far from the Disneyland Resort (the smallest Disney Park in the world) so I have a feeling they were hotels. It was then I realized the skyline here was much bigger than anything I had ever seen. Even Manhattan paled in comparison!
After arriving in Kowloon station, I wandered a bit and found a taxi pick-up station. I got in the taxi and showed the driver the address for the Rosedale Hotel. Once we left the station, I immediately took out my camera and began taking pictures. Like all cities, Hong Kong has construction, and they were working on several buildings. However, unlike in North America and Europe, they don't use steel reinforcements -- they use bamboo!
I was dropped off at the hotel and a man asked to take my luggage. I was weary, so he assured me it would be at my hotel room door once I checked in. I handed it over cautiously. You can tell I'm from a small city when I'm nervous to give my luggage to a bellboy!
I entered my hotel and was floored. It had beautiful black marble floors, sparkling elevators, pristine white tables, and the friendliest service people you could find! I was also probably also the only Caucasian in the building.
I got up to my room, found my luggage and fell in love with my room. Not only was it very large and very nice, I didn't have to share it with anybody, it had a cute couch near the window and it was air conditioned! I found a note from Management that talked about the air conditioning. I was enjoying the cool air, but it read "Do not turn below 25". I couldn't believe my eyes! It was 25 in here? Had I become that accustomed to the heat that 25 seemed cool?
I didn't know how long it would take me to get to my hotel today, so I had nothing planned. After walking through Japan for a week and a half, my legs were happy to rest. I Skyped home, talked to my girlfriend and my parents, had a very nice, non-complimentary buffet supper for about $50 ($8 CAD) and went to bed. I was exhausted, but this was the destination that spurred my whole trip. I have no idea what Hong Kong has in store for me, but I intend to find out!
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
Among the tombstones of the Regina Cemetery are little blue and white flags. In 1993 the Regina Ethnic Pioneers Cemetery Walking Tour put together their first tour, which focused on the city's founding fathers. In 1999 they then put together the second tour, which focused on the diversity of immigrants that live within the city. The blue flags mark the path of the first tour and the white flags mark those of the second.
The walking tours are self-guided, and can be purchased at the Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery for $2. Together, they offer over eighty different locations to visit.
For this project I teamed up with Patti Haus from I Heart Regina. She's another local blogger that has just broken into the scene and blogs about food, drinks and things to see around the Queen City. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She provided many of the pictures for this article.
Part 12 of my cross Canada series takes us to the smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island. However, don't let the name confuse you: PEI is actually 232 islands!
PEI also happens to have smallest population of any province in Canada, with only 146,300 people as of 2014. This means this province has less people than my hometown Regina!
Being so small, however, it was difficult to find images on Instagram. That isn't to say there's nothing there worth seeing! Quiet the quandary, actually. PEI has a few very unique locations that drive their tourism. One of them is the gorgeous themed village of Avonlea, named after the village in the hit novel "Anne of Green Gables" published in 1908. This story, and the subsequent stories, follows Anne, a red-haired "fiery" orphan who grows up on PEI. The story is an international bestseller, and is strangely very popular in Japan (or so I've been told)!
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.