this is the part where i cringe. as embarrassing as this short story would be, i am posting this thing as a reminder to my grandchildren that indeed, the saying “haste makes waste.” couldn’t be any more truer. (ask your grand-aunt el2. she’s the one to blame. hehe.)
it was already around 8 in the evening when we left victoria peak. we were in a hurry to go back to kowloon. i stopped counting the number of times people tell me i’m too regal (read: too slow) but that’s just me being chill about stressful situations i have no desire to compound into full-blown hysteria. my sister, on the other hand, is the faster one. so while she was brisk-walking to get to the ferry terminal on time, i was half-running to keep up with her pace while desperately trying to take in the sight and feel of central as my way of saying goodbye.
like an ignorant expert of a place she has been to but for three days, she hurriedly waved her octopus card on the machine before relaxing at the thought that we made it on time.
we made it on time, alright. we made it on time for the wrong boat that was headed for the wrong island one hour away from central!
i didn’t need serious self-reflection or the intricacies of yoga to tell me something was definitely wrong. in the first place, the moment my sister was waving her card on the machine, i looked up at the electronic sign that spelled another island’s name that was not tsim tsa tsui. in the second place, the moment the boat passed by the borders of kowloon with no intention of docking until one hour later, i knew we were in trouble. in the third place, everyone in the boat was chinese. what made me start to panic was how silent everyone was, like they were tired from work and all they wanted to do was go home.
that was the part where i started to wonder, where is their home?
because really, 45 minutes have passed and we were still sailing on dark seas. the skyscrapers and the city lights that i was personally acquainted with had already faded into nothingness twenty minutes earlier. the one line that kept playing in my head was, “sh*t. this is like traveling as far as bohol.”
while my sister took her sweet time napping without any apparent concern whatsoever, i scanned around calmly for any signs of a non-chinese face capable of conversing in english when all i really wanted to do was scream incoherently for help.
i looked at the distracted passenger three feet beside me and slowly asked, “excuse me, do you speak english?” the blank look on his face was enough to tell me he didn’t.
at that point, i wasn’t giving up. i could’ve asked each and every passenger the same question until i found somebody who could at least give me a “yes.” or a nod. i was desperate to take even a nod.
the heavens were kind. because sitting beside my sleeping sister was a chinese angel who didn’t need a harp or a halo but whose english proficiency was astoundingly heavenly every english word coming out of his mouth sent me to paradise. even when his angelic message fell in the lines of “yes, you’re lost. it’s too bad the ferries going to my place don’t have an hourly schedule. but they do have one last trip about 3 minutes after this boat docks which will take you back to central. that is, if you make it. if you don’t, the earliest schedule is around 4 in the morning, which leaves you enough time to take a tour around my island. the shops are closed by now but…”
needless to say, that guy ran with us as we chased the last ferry’s departure.
he was very helpful. he truly was. i couldn’t have thanked him enough. but limited as my time may be, i did genuinely thank him for his help and for his effort — not only in guiding us where to go and what to do, but also in honing his english language skills so he can help dumb tourists like us who get lost in an island dominated by non-english speakers. he may not believe in the same God as i do but wherever he is, God bless him. =)
another 1-hour ride back to where we started the costly mistake. of course i was exhausted!
my sister probably was too but at least she got some sleep on the way to nowhere!
and this… is spongebob — mocking us for our sheer stupidity. he’s stupid too but compared to what we’ve been through, our stupidity is off the charts — even for spongebob’s standards. lol.