Red Circle Tea

Full Circle

Hong Kong.

I look out the window of the bus and reflect back on the last two weeks: A grueling trip out to the Chinese countryside and back, a by-the-seat-of-my-pants trip up and down a mountain, suffering the heat and mosquitos of Guangzhou, and I’m happy to treat myself to the little luxuries of a soft bed in a high rise hotel, a gorgeous view of a world class city, the international tasty sweets and treats that I remember and love – French chocolate, New Zealand honey, Japanese strawberry jam, Canadian pork in Japanese Katsu and most of all, reveling in my tea purchases in the comfort of my room.

I’m in Kowloon, just across the harbor from HK, and the city is welcoming. The border crossing was annoying and the lines long, but the 45 minute bus ride in from Lo Wu was like Christmas Eve compressed into 45 short sweet delicious minutes. Anticipation gave me goose bumps. I'm back; with tea, lots of it. And I have an intoxicating sense of satisfaction with a healthy dash of gratitude.  Hot weather and overcast skies make for a gentle heat that’s comfortable and easy to relax in.  I have 20 more minutes to relax before I hop off the bus and beg for help with my luggage. I wonder what the shower in the hotel will be like.

I check into the hotel and head straight for the shower. I have no clean clothes left. I've sweat through all of them, and I've had these jeans on for 3 days. I hand wash a silk top in the sink that will dry in an hour, and glare at my jeans knowing they'll take two days to dry. There's no point in washing them.  Just go with it.  No one else cares but you.  And you have tea, so why should you care?  I shower and change and dress and head out in a singular direction and walk with a specific purpose: to get on the Star Ferry. This is one of my *favorite* things to do in Hong Kong.

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The Star Ferry has been crossing the harbor between Kowloon and Hong Kong since 1898. (Yes, I wikipedia'd that.) These are the tiny passenger ferries that are the cheapest, most romantic and most fun mode of transportation I've taken anywhere in the world. They have adorable names like Twinkling Star, Day Star, Polar Star, Golden Star and Lady Star. Out on the harbor you barely feel the heat. The breeze is refreshing and the air, while probably not cleaner, is certainly moving and less stuffy than on land. The old wooden seats have backs that are on a lever, so either way the boat is facing, the seat can face forward if you flip the back rest in the opposite direction.  This is a great view of both Kowloon and Hong Kong.  It's cheaper than the Metro, and I think Faster, and it connects you with the topography of Hong Kong, an essential part of any island city.

After an afternoon of sightseeing and walking and eating and shopping that gorgeous Island, I come back to my hotel and cuddle up in front of CNN world news with a cup of my own tea. Thank you CNN for being everywhere. And it hits me: I’m exhausted.  I'm really really tired. What a lucky, wonderful, happy and successful trip I’ve had. I couldn’t have planned it better (I don't think anyone could have planned this, it was serendipity meets providence and lady luck walked by just for good measure.) And I also feel a deep sense of gratitude for all the people who have helped me get this far. Family and friends, new and old have all had a hand in making this possible.  Deep thanks too you all – little bow.

I'm back on the plane tomorrow for a my flight home, 14 hours of a middle seat. The worst part is I know that the less I sleep on that flight, the easier it will be to adjust to PST once I'm home. And (for me) it's physically painful to cross the dateline going that way. Some folks bear it out, I find it incredibly rough. The truth?  My god is it worth it.  This is my life's dream and I love even the agonizing parts. Anyhow, I have tonight to sleep in my comfy bed, and a skyline of one of my favorite cities in the world to wake up to.   It's worth the price of a bit of jet lag. Well worth it.

Post Script: I'm back in the states now and all my new teas will be for sale in a matter of days. Dragonwell, Dan Chong, a spectacular White Peony, and others. Stay tuned and check back for detailed reviews of these teas. You can also follow my daily tea adventures on facebook - look me up:  Red.Circle.Tea (that's Red(dot)Circle(dot)Tea(no dot)).

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