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New York City can suck it. If you want a city that really never sleeps come to Hong Hong. A quiet night out on the town doesn’t really exsist here. Too much going on. Everybody is busy. places to see, people to be. (Yes I did it in reverse on purpose.) many find the bustling city overwhelming. But that’s the thing, you can’t overwhelm Hong Kong.
No thing can.
And that includes Typhoon Mangkhut.
Like many other non – locals I just followed what everyone else was doing for precautions against the storm.
Something to binge watch while I stay oblivious to the actual strength of a storm more powerful than anything on record in Hong Kong? Check. (It was Season 4 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.)
Yes, I knew the storm’s brunt was further off the coast. Yes, I knew that I still needed to take things seriously despite the precautions the city takes and Hong Kong’s history of brushing off Typhoons. And yes, I knew the tape thing doesn’t actually help. But I still felt like adding a couple extra layers of tape to be safe. Because I was pretty nervous.
Back home in Ohio, a hurricane was something totally different. It was what God used to punish Florida for existing. Or a hockey team you hated despite having no real rivalry with your beloved Blue Jackets. The worst natural weather I’d experienced was a tropical depression that somehow made it up to the Miami Valley with 70mph+ gusts. But a hurricane? Of historic proportions? Not so much.
It’s funny (the odd kind, not the haha kind) when I first heard of the storm it didn’t even register. I was preoccupied with worrying about my friends and family in the Carolinas because of Florence. (The storm, not the 17th-century witch Florence Newton. A surprisingly common misconception. ) It wasn’t until the storm hit The Philippines, that I truly understood the gravitas of the situation. I shouldn’t panic, but I need to keep my wits about me. So, with windows taped and a season to catch up on, I hunkered down.
My girlfriend and I actually had a pleasant experience during the storm. We snacked on ham sandwiches, Oreos, and chips, watched Terry Crews be awesome and napped. (Well, she napped. I rewatched season 2 of Dragon Ball Z Abridged to not watch ahead.) The storm legitimately trapped us in our apartment, but it was a cozy trap. A chance to rest. Even if the alternative was getting turned into a human kite outside.
While she and I enjoyed a stay at home date, of course, buildings were being ripped up, floods crept higher, and the entirety of HK ground to a halt. It was an eerie silence I was unaccustomed to. It was the quietest my girlfriend experienced in the city in her 5 years of living here. The only sounds coming from outside was the wicked whipping wind.
Around 2 o’clock, we started seeing more posts on the scale of everything on Instagram and Reddit. (Shout out to/r/HongKong.) The building in Whampoa getting turned into a thirty story cheese grater reminded us any building could be affected. But it was the video of an air conditioner getting blown in that spooked us. Our apartment is about eight square meters, basically a bed and a bathroom. A hole that size in the window could mess things up bad.
We didn’t want to admit it, but we were scared it could happen to us. So in effort to not temp the air conditioning gods from smiting us, we played hot potato with the AC. We’d turn it on for a few minutes, then go about an hour without. That doesn’t sound like much to a local, but my girlfriend calls me Mr. Snowman for a reason. And no, it’s not because of a corn cob pipe, nor is it my button nose.
The hours passed and a brutal reality was about to shatter our world. We didn’t have enough snacks. And we were getting bored. (And now I see why Millennials are called childish. But be real for 5 seconds people, hanger is real.) The funny thing is, we weren’t the only people thinking the same thing. By 6 o’clock, we saw a steady stream of cars. And people too. The storm was barely starting to leave Hong Kong, but people were going outside. The results were in:
Hong Kong was tired of waiting for Mangkhut. They had shit to do. So I st the protest of my girlfriend did what any sensible foreigner would do. I walked out into the hurricane to go get dinner. It sounds awesome, but the buildings blocked so much wind I can only categorize the trip as: rather gusty. And rainy. It was still very much rainy.
With fair lady (reluctantly) in tow, we went off in search of nourishment. The ever faithful 7 Eleven was of course open, but we had our fill of chips and snacks. We needed a meal. Luckily the first road we turned to had a place open. And on that road was a sanctuary. That sanctuary’s name: 18 Kung Fu Spicy. At least according to Google Translate. Although my uber rough understanding of Chinese from college confirms this.
十八味功夫麻辣 = 18 spicy Kung Fu spicy.
It’s funny, inside the restaurant, you’d never realize a typhoon of ungodly size was raging outside. But that’s just like Hong Kong. For better or worse, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. Life here stops for nothing.
And perhaps the best example of this comes from how the following Monday, we all got out of bed, strapped on our shoes and went to work… Except for you know, the few businesses and schools that did close. And the people literally trapped by fallen debris. No wait… they went to work to. Oh Hong Kong, you’ll never change…