Table for one / get lost.

Apartment hunting didn’t happen today because I ended up working at the office. I did get a pay-as-you-go sim card though so… yay, progress!

I finally had HK street food today. This was breakfast: pineapple coconut bun and two egg tarts. There was a designated “sitting area” right by the MTR station so I ate there.

Can’t remember the total cost of this, but the coconut bun was $5.5 HKD which is about 70¢ so that’s pretty cheap right? The dan tats melted in my mouth.

View from the elevator as I headed down for lunch.

I ate alone in a restaurant today for the first time in HK. I don’t do this often, especially while in the States. It was harder for me to do it back in LA because I liked to eat with friends. I have no problem eating alone, but I felt really alienated for the first time since my first day here. I thought my waiter was purposely ignoring me, but turns out he just thought I wasn’t ready to order because I was just sitting there, waiting. Patrons typically call out what they want to eat so waiters don’t really take down orders. I’m passive by nature so I’m not used to this type of assertiveness, especially when I’m very self-conscious about my Cantonese. Anyway, I felt a lot better after I ate my meal.

Ramen noodles with pork belly, “garlic paste” in satay sauce. It tasted like coconut curry soup.

Passion fruit red tea. The total meal cost about $6 USD, which is pretty expensive, I think. And I will continue to go cheaper until I get my first paycheck!

I was pretty bummed after work because a) I was tired and b) super bummed that I couldn’t go apartment shopping and explore Sheung Wan. Hopefully I can wake up early tomorrow to do it, but since I’m starting work I probably won’t get to it til Saturday.

My workmates suggested I check out the Ikea near Causeway Bay because there would be pretty cheap eateries there. Again, I took a cellphone picture of directions and again, it was useless—except this time, I really did get lost. I was frustrated, tired, lonely, and hungry. I had planned on walking home from Ikea, but since that wasn’t happening, I had to backtrack to Times Square in order to take the MTR. On my way back, I realized the road I had gotten lost on actually housed a lot of cheaper restaurants. Unfortunately, meals for $15 or $20 HKD were all written in Chinese. “So that’s the catch,” I thought. Right as I thought this, I spotted a diner across the street with cheap prices and the menu written in English. I hastily crossed the street (one thing I enjoy about HK is the jaywalking, for some reason), and headed inside.

I had made a vow to never speak Mandarin after being yelled at by the front desk lady on my first day. I thought I was being polite by attempting to speak in Cantonese first before switching to Mandarin, but I realized that because of my Chinese appearance, they probably assumed I was from mainland China. Mainlanders are pretty much detested here. I tried out my theory by speaking only English and it proved to be true: I was treated a lot better. However, it’s still frustrating and uncomfortable when faced with a language barrier. I hate feeling so helpless and useless.

So, I tried ordering in English but the waiter didn’t understand me and handed me some English menus. When I was ready, I stated my order but he stared at me blankly, so I pointed at the item on the menu. “Preserved duck egg…” I said slowly in my awkward Cantonese, afraid that he might get frustrated and yell at me too. I stopped because I didn’t know how to say pork. “瘦肉粥,” he finished. “皮蛋瘦肉粥!” I repeated, excitedly. Preserved duck egg with pork congee is one of my favorite dishes. I wasn’t even aware that I had ordered it; I just picked something off the menu because I felt nervous and hungry. We shared a laugh, and I realized how lonely I was, taking comfort in the possible kindness of a stranger. I looked around me and saw that other people were eating alone, too. It made me feel less lonely.

My congee with a custard bun. The best part of this meal was that it was only $23 HKD. That’s $2 USD you guys! I found it, I struck gold! I will try to find this place again tomorrow. It was a great dinner.

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