It was supposed to be a 1-hour trip to buy my special gift to Talia, an hour missed from an important 3-day business seminar in Hongkong.
I co-founded a business that gets more than a handful of work every end of the year when companies celebrate the holidays with big events. These events are usually big enough to warrant a live broadcast over Facebook or YouTube, and that’s where our company, OTT , comes in. Big projects equal to big money, so missing a few of these is considered a big hit to our bottomline.
That’s how important this seminar was to us. We were ready to take a hit on our monthly revenue to beef up our knowledge on business and leadership strategies. The seminar venue, Hyatt Regency, to Central Music at the Regent Centre Building, is a simple 21 minute commute - a few minutes allotted to purchase the item - and another 21 minutes going back.
Simple and short enough, right? Apparently not!
Stupidly, I exited the MTR on the wrong end, which turned the supposed 6-minute walk into a 15-minute one.
When I finally got to the Regent Centre Building, the guard told me that Central Music didn’t exist. I thought to myself that there was a simple misunderstanding. After all, English obviously wasn’t his first language. I stepped out of the building and called Central Music. A gentleman answered the phone and I told him I was outside the Regent Centre Building and that the guard told me Central Music wasn’t in there. He told me to go to the fifth floor and I would see his office. Oh, and by the way, they close at 1pm till 2pm for lunch. That call was at 12:02 AM. Tick tock, tick tock.
As I re-entered the building, the guard asked if I found the place and I told him I was going to the 5th floor. He looked at me surprised and said, “I’ve worked here for a long time and the 5th floor has always been a parking lot.”
Confused, I decided to check the website of Central Music to find the contact info. There it was, address and all, except it didn’t say Central District - it was all the way north in Kwai Chung, a place I’ve never been to before. A whopping 52 minutes away from where I was. Someone tagged the wrong building in Google Maps and no one ever bothered correcting it.
I was hungry, tired, and had a little less than an hour to ride 13 stops in the MTR and an additional 1.45 kilometer walk. With no time to think things through, I soldiered on the first 350 meters. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing the most comfortable of shoes. This walk wasn’t just long, as I slowly discovered. It's extremely hilly -- up and down and not subtle inclines and declines. They were killer angles. I felt like I was hiking on a mountain.
When I finally got in the train, I started to feel uneasy - cold sweat and a signal to my brain from my colon that I should go find a toilet soonest. 13 more stops to go in a foreign land where clean public toilets weren’t easy to find, plus the fact that I didn’t have any time to spare. FML!
As long as I didn’t think of being tired, hungry and “code unicorn” (an agreement we had with our kids when talking about 💩), all should be well. Or so I thought. Seems like the final Mercury retrograde of the year was in full swing during this (mis) adventure!
Finally in the Kwai Hing Station, I just dreamt of happy thoughts and continued to soldier on my 1.1 kilometer walk to the correct Regent Building. I was not in the best situation, but giving the best gift to my daughter was the mission, so just do it - as Nike says it so well.
All was well, until the path Google maps gave me was not possible. It basically told me to cross a highway which had no pedestrian crossing lines. Nope! Not dying today. I looked around and to the far right, about 100 meters away, was an elevated crosswalk. And to add insult to injury, I had to pick between stairs or a giant loop ramp. I picked the stairs. At this point, I noticed I was limping a bit. The muscle right above my left knee started to feel sore.
No problem. No pain, no gain, I thought.
As I approached the correct Regent Centre building, time was running out. I barely had 5 minutes and a bad leg to finally get the gift. I focused on the mission, found myself inside the building, into the elevator, and into the fifth floor. Time check. 😶
I rang the doorbell and luckily, someone answered. The gentleman on the phone was obviously waiting for me since he had the package ready. He asked, “Do you know how much?” I answered, “No, but I know how much they go for. Do you take credit card?”, I asked him.
My world imploded. Was I going to do this trip again? I’m already here, and I can see the prize.
“Don’t you have cash?”
“There is a bank a few blocks away”
I asked, “How long would it take me?”
He kept silent for a few seconds, then told me to hold on a minute, as he walked into the office. At this point, I sent messages to my wife Kaye asking what my options were. She didn’t reply. I sent a message to my sister, Miko, who was beside Kaye, and she replied that Kaye was on the phone with a client.
The world was getting smaller and smaller. Hunger, exhaustion, and 🦄 all disappeared. I sat and thought of every possible solution to this. I wasn’t giving up. The prize was to my left, less than 2 meters away. Vision started to tunnel. Heart rate rising. The door finally opened, and the gentleman asked, “Do you have PayPal?"
He told me to write my PayPal account email address on a sheet of bond paper, the best scratch paper I’ve seen in my life. At 1:16pm, 9 minutes after I arrived, I finally got it. The longest 9 minutes of my life and the mission was a success!
However, like any outbound mission, there’s still that final portion wherein you need to get back home. To me, that meant food, 🦄, and back to the seminar. And so, the journey back home began. Walking the same path backwards was easy because it was familiar. What wasn’t easy was carrying a huge box weighing 5.34 pounds for more than a kilometer of hilly paths and personal issues - “code unicorn” being the worst.
For some reason, I ended up in Kwai Chung Neighbourhood Elderly Centre, right after following the sign of the MTR. Maybe due to hunger and some panic, I made some wrong turns. After an additional 10 minutes trying to figure out where the MTR was, I realized I was right in front of it a few minutes before, and I had just wasted time and effort going down and up the elevated walkway. Finally in the train, 13 stops to go - easy. As I entered the train, all the seats were taken by the elderly. Long story short, seats were all taken until my stop.
I got back to our AirBnB, dropped off the gift, sat on the toilet, and headed to McDonalds. I grabbed a Spicy Chicken Fillet meal for a late lunch. As soon as I finished eating, I got up, opened Google Maps and searched for the Hyatt Regency where our seminar was on-going. As soon as I hit search, my iPhone, which had 5% battery left, just went flat. Dead.
I plugged my phone to a power bank, and waited for it to turn back on - it didn’t. I walked aimlessly hoping to find the hotel, but I just found myself totally lost. After about 10 minutes of aimless walking, while at a pedestrian crossing, both of my overused calves cramped. Yes, both - at the exact same time - in the middle of the road. I thought I was going to fall. Fortunately, I made it to the other side of the road where I stood steady and attempted to stretch my calves.
I learned that when both calves are cramping, trying to stretch one will make the other cramp. So I was stuck. Fortunately, my phone woke up. I messaged Kaye saying I was stuck and couldn’t move due to leg cramps. In about 2 minutes, Kaye found me and slowly helped me get back to the seminar which I didn’t attend anymore to tend to my cramping legs. 23,470 steps for this microphone. Talia better appreciate this gift!
If you think my day ended here, you could never be more wrong. That night, we went on another (mis)adventure hunting for the best Nintendo Switch deal for a with the oh-so-rare, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But that's another story altogether.
And because I was too excited to wait for Christmas, Kaye and I gave Talia her early Christmas gift and she absolutely loves it! We can't wait to see the new videos that she'll post on her YouTube channel using this special microphone.
Ex-Public Highway Racer