28.

The year I wanted to completely give up on celebrating my birthday for a week—or my actual birthday at all—ended up being the best birthday (week) ever.

It all began with a misunderstanding: under several incidences, coworkers mistook my birthday and I began receiving “happy birthdays” on Monday, September 21st. It was strange, but I grew to like it and stopped correcting people the following day simply because it made me feel better.

As my mood began to lift, I also began to receive inquiries of what I’d like to do to celebrate. “I really want to do escape room,” I told a coworker.

“Let’s do it,” he replied.

I can’t stop winking in photos.

On the 23rd, we went to Freeing HK in Causeway Bay and chose the pirate-themed quest. It was fun trying a new place, but I prefer Lost HK (also in CWB) because the staff are more professional and dedicated, and the tasks are more varied. We didn’t manage to escape within 45 minutes but finished it in an hour, and rewarded ourselves with dessert next door.

Mango shaved ice with sliced mango and cream.

On the 25th, I began my 28th birthday walking to work listening to this:

Instant mood booster.

In addition to a chorus of birthday greetings, I received edible presents:

A birthday bananza from my friend DJ Gogo

Tea eggs from Baby T!

Cute story about the photo above: my friend remembered me saying that my mom used to make tea eggs for my birthday, so she asked her mom to make some for me this year. :)

To celebrate, my coworkers organized a lunch at Deep Water Bay. My first beach lunch and hopefully not my last!

After work, two of my friends planned a surprise dinner for me at an undisclosed location. Since it was a late dinner, DJ Gogo and I killed some time by hitting golf balls at the driving range for an hour. (My performance improved by 125% since I started.) We met up with a few more friends at Inside Out for early drinks—though I’ve chosen to give up alcohol for a bit—before heading off to Wan Chai where I voluntarily covered my eyes to make the surprise even more exciting.

Nails on fleek.

I found myself at Pirata (which translates to “pirate” in Italian; the theme continues!), an upscale Italian eatery. The ambience was sophisticated and dark. We sat in a nice corner with a plush red sofa.

Love the lighting fixtures.

Two nudibranchs named Kuby and Tammy! Evidently, my friends Gusgus and Herr Bolle really listened to my senseless ramblings.

My yummy strawberry drink!

Super fresh bruschetta.

My main: black and white truffle pasta! Heavenly.

Surprise cake! It tasted like little cubes of vanilla ice cream with nuts, drizzled in chocolate.

The night continued onto a bar in Wan Chai called Mahalo. This was a Hawaiian-themed bar but their menu was a leather map… So the pirate theme lives on!

I got passionate fruit and pineapple juice!

In addition to being completely spoiled for a night, I received lots of Facebook posts, texts from loved ones, a voice note from my best friend in the universe, and even video clips from my friends back in LA who threw a party for me and filmed their evening. In a time where I felt completely alone, my friends and family pulled me out of my sadness and I felt so loved.

Welcome, twenty-eight.

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