I did say that Joshua’s ‘rewards’ were worthy of a whole separate blog and indeed they are.
I think he was perhaps content with one of Eden’s chocolate lollies for his first reward but then he got bolder.
His first random suggestion was car related. After a summer in London, his passion for cars was reignited after being able to once again observe a VARIETY of cars on the road. In Hong Kong, 99% of vehicles on the road are taxis, the other 1% are Ferraris, Maseratis, Porsches or Lamborghinis. Not unexciting for an 8 year old boy of course but something about that trip to London got his enthusiasm going again.
Don’t ask me how they manage it but in Hong Kong, many shops of the same kind are all bunched together ie: lighting shops are all on the same street, curtain shops are all on the same street, kitchen showrooms etc. Given the frequency that shops close down around here I’m not sure how they keep these patterns going but somehow they do.
Anyway, also in a long row along a busy Hong Kong street are just about all the car showrooms. We often whizz past them in a taxi whilst Joshua practically falls out of the window trying to focus! So, his request for his next reward was to be taken by Dan for an afternoon of car showroom browsing! So that’s what they did. And he also got to take a friend. They had a blast, were gone for hours and this reward didn’t cost a penny! They came back with enough brochures to keep Josh (and Dan) happy for months, not to mention all the photos of Josh and his friend posing in all the cars – all the ones they were allowed to, that is. The guys in the McLaren showroom weren’t so accommodating!
So, for his next reward, Joshua tried his luck with asking for a train adventure. This is also his ‘thing’. He went through a phase of dragging Dan on random bus journeys to see where they’d end up, planning the routes on our bus route apps. He’s a boffin, there’s no denying it. If anyone were to ask Josh how to get to any random corner of Hong Kong, he will tell them which bus number they need, where to catch it from and if any changes are needed. And it’s the same with the Hong Kong trains – or MTR.
I had successfully managed to avoid any of these so-called ‘adventures’, leaving Dan or unsuspecting grandparents to be dragged along instead. The train adventures are just not interesting in any way. You travel underground and emerge at your station. Every station in Hong Kong looks the same, with the same selection of unappealing shops. There is no way to tell what part of Hong Kong you are in.
However, some badly planned family scheduling meant it fell to me to fulfill Joshua’s train adventure request. Joshua wanted to redeem his reward on a Saturday when Dan was busy, Eden was out on a playdate and I couldn’t think of any excuse! So off we went. Joshua led the way, armed with the MTR app on my phone, busy choosing how far we could go with as many line changes as possible. This is my son’s idea of a good time these days!
One hour and 4 line changes later we emerged at Groundhog Day station. This obviously isn’t it’s name but it might as well be. I think we had travelled further than any expat or Western tourist had ever travelled in Hong Kong. Ours were certainly the only Western faces around. We were practically at the Chinese border. We exited the station and into the Groundhog Day shopping mall. Funny, I felt like I’d been here before. Joshua announced that he wanted to have lunch then go home. Lovely. At least I wasn’t going to get dragged further away from civilisation but was that really what we had schlepped all this way for?!
Joshua wanted sushi, what a shocker. We couldn’t find any sushi restaurant but there was a big supermarket, a chain that I know has a great sushi counter. We went into the supermarket and the queues were beyond belief. It was worse than anything I have ever seen in Hong Kong, including when the whole city was stocking up in anticipation of a typhoon, or even in the UK on Christmas Eve. It took us at least half an hour to get to the front of the line. Even the biggest supermarkets in Hong Kong (and this was pretty big) have not yet introduced the convenience of moving conveyors at the check out. Perhaps this is partly because the conveyors are so ridiculously tiny. So the shopper does not know what to do first – you have to offload from the trolley but if you are doing a big shop you can’t offload it all because the conveyor is too small so you have to wait for the conveyor to start clearing before offloading a bit more whilst having to slide all your items down the conveyor manually. By the time your trolley is empty, your shopping is in a huge pile on the other side because you haven’t been able to start packing it up. And customer service staff in Hong Kong are, perhaps ironically, the least helpful people on earth, so the chances of someone offering to start packing your shopping up for you are about as likely as snow falling.
Finally after our frustrating half hour of queuing, we had our sushi and looked to find somewhere to sit and eat it. Ha ha. Sit down? In a shopping centre? Now there’s a concept. Could we find anywhere to sit? Maybe the centre management knew that the shopping centre was in fact so boring that shoppers would not be there long enough to need a seat at any point. We finally found a couple of benches, the kind that are so wide people are meant to sit on both sides with their backs practically pressed against each other. Not really a relaxing lunch. We had the obligatory snorting, hacking old lady sitting behind us which just made us eat even faster so we could get the hell out of there. No rubbish bins of course. Josh had to run the length and breadth before he could find one. And off home we went. What a worthwhile journey. We didn’t even step outside the whole time!
I’m sure Josh would tell this story differently and if he considers himself rewarded then I guess it was a successful trip. I’m dreading the next reward he dreams up – why can’t he just settle for pocket money?!