Market to Market – Hong Kong

I woke up early to get a kick start on the day and compose myself after having stayed up oh so late (or shall I say early). Megan was leaving the ship today so we had breakfast together and said our goodbyes. Just like a sister would, she gave me a bunch of clothes that she couldn’t fit into her luggage. I was excited that it all fit me perfectly. I will miss our heart to hearts in the atrium bar sipping lattes. I was sad to see her go but knew she was going to be happy starting her new life in Italy.

Marshan and I picked up our tender tickets to go ashore then waited to be called. We decided we would spend the day at the markets and first up was the famous Stanley Market. We found an express bus that got us there in about 20 minutes. I was charmed by the quaint line up of shops and stalls selling every kind of souvenir you could imagine. The nice thing about it was how neat and tidy everything was. The atmosphere was subdued and people were quite calm and orderly. It was a big change from the ladies market I saw yesterday and that we would be visiting again later.

I ended up buying a silk scarf that I couldn’t get my eyes off of for a measly 10 Hong Kong Dollars. Then we boarded the bus again which happened to be a double decker this time. Ofcourse we sat on the top deck which even had a TV playing commercials and such. It was a scenic ride and somewhat exciting as well as the driver twisted and turned the narrow snaky roads. Something of a rollercoaster ride and we didn’t even have to pay extra!

We transferred to the subway and fifteen minutes later we were standing in the middle of consumer chaos. Marshan hadn’t been here yet so I showed her around and pointed out the pretty hair clips I intended to buy. You would think with a billion to choose from, I could find something I liked! But perhaps it was that there were too many choices. I watched as the young ladies would work carefully with tweezers to dazzle accessories with sparkly crystals creating exquisite elegance.

Finally I found the one I wanted and it was just a matter of agreeing on a price. I suppose I shouldn’t have shown such interest because the shopgirl was playing hardball and wanted 70 but had seen others pay only 30 (4 USD). I went back three times before at last we negotiated a deal. In the end, I walked away with three including the one I would gift to Marshan.

As I walked away with my win silently congratulating myself on saving at least 100 HKD by being a good bargainer, I stopped short. Right in front of me was a man who had no legs pulling himself on a makeshift skateboard in the middle of the thoroughfare. He had a small change basket he would humbly lift and move with him each time he would advance a few feet with his hands pushing himself along like a monkey. I reached into my pockets and gave the man my money without even thinking.

Now normally I don’t give to beggars because I don’t think it helps their cause to reward that type of behavior. I adhere to a strict policy to only give if they provide me a service or touch me in some way. So you can imagine my confusion as I walked away why I made an exception this time. What I determined was that this man was infact doing something. He was moving. And to do just that it took all he had. Just traveling a few meters was a real exertion for him and to see him trying so hard and not giving up…well, that moved me. His strength of will was a gift of gratitude for all that I take for granted.

It started to rain and there were still a few hours left before we had to get back to the ship. Feeling extra grateful for my feet, I decided to get some reflexology. I admit, the service wasn’t exceptional but I don’t think it mattered at that point. It only cost 100 HKD which is about $15 so it wasn’t a huge loss. I did however decide that I would be more choosy about treatments from that point on.

We exchanged the last of our money and caught the last tender back to the ship. I ate a snack then had a nap before heading to see Martin. After listening to him croon for a while, I stopped into to see JT before heading off to bed.

Grateful for mobility.

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