After taking the Airport Express train to the terminus, and two train rides to Sheung Wan Station 上環站, I’m just an easy tram ride away from the comfy hotel room I booked – but lugging a bag that’s nearly three quarters of my weight made it an adventure.
Sweating despite the cool weather, I crossed the unfamiliar street upon stepping out of the station. My four-wheeled luggage threw quite a tantrum; it didn’t fancy the uneven pavement covered with cobblestones. I pacified it by pushing with both my hands until we reached the Westbound tram stop. Condescending eyes were on me as I stood at the back of the line. “Riding the tram with a big luggage… what is she thinking?!” they all must have thought in Cantonese. I stuck with my plan anyway.
The tram arrives and I was eager to take that ride. But the turnstiles looked down on me from two flights of stairs above. It challenged me to get into the packed tram quickly before the driver closes the doors. My helpless luggage begged me to lift it through the metal baffle gates; I desperately try to figure out how to, but failed – and thrice. The fourth tram arrived. A middle-aged lady with sweet almond-shaped eyes passing by insisted to help with the luggage even after I warned her of its uncooperative weight. I thanked her in the best Chinese I could speak which ended up being a simple “謝謝您 xie xie nin”.
In three stops I must get off the tram. But the space was narrow and full of passengers, and the exit is on the opposite end away from the demeaning turnstiles beside me. I plodded my way to the front while apologizing to everyone that I inevitably hit along the way. A sigh of relief – I made it.
The passenger in front of me dropped three coins into the wooden box up front – two of which are rimmed with a dozen waves. Only these three coins chimed as the round and corrugated metals stopped for the tram driver to count if they amounted to 2.30HKD. I followed the act. The driver didn’t care from which stop I boarded; the fare is all the same for a ride of any distance.
The scent of dried fungi and oriental herbs embraced me, along with the gentle December wind as I got off my stop in Sutherland Street 修打蘭徍 xiu da lan wang. Night lights were hanging on old, concrete buildings that line the sleepless HK road. I hauled my 30-kilogram luggage along the first-story stores that sell medicine and spices; and took a turn into the seemingly hidden entrance of 60 West. I’m finally here. Exhausted. I could have just taken a cab; but now – I have a story to tell.