His name is Popeye and we found him by chance in Hong Kong while leaving the shopping mall. He was dropping someone off from his cab and we ran into the street (well walked.. I don’t do run) and flagged him down. We ‘clicked’ right away, it helped that he spoke some English and he had such a big smile!
I’m drawn to smiley people .. I had to ask our last cab driver if he was happy before we got into the cab. He pasted a forced smile on his face and that was the only good part from that trip on.
That cab driver had an attitude.. he was only putting up with us I’m sue because it was his job. He then concentrated on breaking every speed record . “Don’t speak English!!!” he spat out and then proceeded to play with his iPod, changing the awful tinny sounding music from one bad song to the next.
The cab reeked of cigarette smoke but it was too late.. we were his captives. Two planes and 10 hours of flying time did not make us happy campers either. We asked if he would mind turning down the tunes .. big mistake that was! Oh well….
Dropping us off at our hotel in the middle of the city, we cringed somewhat at the surroundings. The hotel showed well on the internet but this was reality and I have to say I was thinking the worst. Funny thing about that is, our welcome into this hotel was one of the best we have received.. ever!
We were offered an E Club package at 350 HK dollars a day (approx. 60.00 Canadian) it included priority check in and out, two full breakfasts, free coffee, teas sodas and beer all day as well as High Teat 3:00 pm and mixed alcohol or wine and appetizers from 6 til 8:00pm. A library and big airy lounge area with lots of comfy sofas and arm chairs.
Coming from Perth and the 5.00 coffee we jumped all over this deal .. where do we sign? The hotel is modern and upscale and the service is second to none. The hotels assistant manager escorted us to the E Club lounge where we enjoyed a continental breakfast and even a nap on one of the many couches. We were also given an early check -in as soon as a room was available 11:30 am. TWO thumbs up !!
The pool at the top of the hotel will remain unused on our end because of the typhoon (mini one). Good thing we have left Australia, our last day there had us at Rottnest Island where the surf almost did us in.
Rottnest is a beautiful protected island that is a 25 minute ferry ride away .No vehicles are allowed but the island has tourist busses and is a bicycle haven. Approx. 11 kilometers around dotted with pristine beaches, hilly, scenic and good snorkeling.. well if the surf is not too dangerous.
Being a good strong swimmer I have never had any fear of water. We rented snorkel masks (21.00) and made our way to the basin area with our guide (we booked a tour and got our own private guide).
Surf was up but not too bad so in we go, only to be engulfed in huge freaking waves hitting us from two sides. The undercurrent pulled me out and a huge mass of something dark was working it’s way towards me . Thank goodness my girlfriend has a life jacket on and I need to stay calm for her.
She is closer to shore and I yell at her to stay back. The dark mass is seaweed or kelp of some kind and it is wrapping itself around my ankles. A thought crosses my mind that I may be in deep trouble. I immediately banish that thought and start swimming, putting everything I have into getting back to where I can touch bottom. I am shaken and a little disturbed by what just happened, but we are safe!.
I see our guide standing close to shore. He tells us after, that his thoughts were on jumping in to help us because he seen the surf change as we entered the ocean. I am humbled by this change of events and I will never be cocky around ocean currents ever again… ever!
Ok so back to Popeye our happy smiling cabdriver. After walking miles in a seven stories high shopping mall (because its raining outside so no ladies outdoor market for us), among thousands of shoppers, we head back to our hotel empty handed!
Once in the cab Popeye quickly educates us about the ins and outs of the ‘night market’ only blocks away from our hotel…we are heading there later. He also takes interest in my search for a plastic manufacturer (which is my main reason for stopping in Hong Kong).
I hit paydirt and we hire Popeye for the whole day on Monday. We tell him to bring his wife along if he wants, (she is from Spain ) we are going to do some sightseeing as well. Typhoon be damned!
After writing about my close call to a friend of mine back home, he emailed me with this message:
Serendipity.. that’s what running into a cab driver who can hook you up with a plastic manufacturer is called.. maybe the universe is smiling on you ever since you battled the Australian ocean currents and won. never know what will come out of that.. but hey.. its going to be an adventure for sure.
To be continued…