Just getting around…

27 Sep

A few weeks ago, I asked someone if they would like to meet for lunch. She responded, “I’m sorry. We have a doctor’s appointment that day.” Genuinely concerned for what would constitute an entire day to be consumed with a doctor’s appointment, she explained that it was just a routine check-up, but that is was “on the island“, meaning Hong Kong island, and we both live on “the Dark Side”, aka Kowloon. I felt a bit dissed but let it slide. After all, I can get to the island by train in under ten minutes. Whatever. “Another time” we both agreed and the subject was closed. Misunderstandings are always opportunities for enlightenment, aren’t they?

Friday, we enjoyed a “typical” Hong Kong day – a trip to the doc for one of the East Side Plinkas… on the island.  We left the house at 1:15 for our 2:30 appointment because I didn’t want to take a taxi. Puzzled? Taxi is the way to travel in Hong Kong, is it not? I don’t know… have YOU tried riding in a taxi, alone, with a pair of toddlers?  First, our monster stroller won’t fit in the trunk and venturing out into the vast unknown for an indefinite period of time without it or the supplies it can haul simply isn’t an option unless I am resigned to being found three days later crumpled in a ball on the floor of the subway whimpering and muttering to myself while the twins play with a plastic tea bottle and lick the inside of a discarded Pocky wrapper for sustenance. Secondly, it is very difficult to travel in the back seat of a taxi sans child safety seats and prevent all twenty tiny fingers from fiddling with every knob, handle, and latch within reach. I spend the entire time pinning them down spouting, “No touch” a thousand times per minute. STRESSFUL. Despite my best efforts and the cabbie’s trigger finger constantly on the automatic door locks, we have on occasion, opened the door of the moving taxi. This always compels me to start screaming in panic (like a  complete lunatic) and holding little arms of terrified children by a death grip until the taxi comes to a stop in traffic and I can let go just long enough to close the door. I spend the rest of the journey suffering from PTSD with two very frustrated, wriggling, and whining two-year-olds secured on my lap until we reach our destination. So no, we didn’t take a taxi.

I mapped the location and discovered that I had not been to the station that was closest, and because very few train stations have elevator access from subway to street level, I opted for the next station over where I was certain I would not have to haul the stroller up two or three flights of stairs. It only weighs 125lbs once it is loaded with children and supplies, so I don’t know what I am whining about… From the alternate station to the office, according to Google Maps, it was 1.7 km (about a mile), which is not too bad because even in foot traffic and waiting on lights at crosswalks, I can generally make it that far in 25 minutes or so. Totally do-able unless you get lost and accidentally cross to the wrong side of a major highway, which I did. When we finally got back on track and in a cruel twist of fate, one section of sidewalk was out. We were redirected to the detour… through a playground. Naturally, the ESPs thought this was our destination and squealed in excitement, which soon turned to disbelief and fury as I explained that we were only cutting through. Two completely pissed off kids, 2.5km later, and a half hour late to the appointment, we finally arrived.

I was sweaty and exasperated. The Plinkas couldn’t wait to get out of the stroller and attack the play area with brute force. No, the tiny and meek Chinese boy didn’t really want to play with anything from the table or beyond. Nor did he stand a chance.

Play with the baby toy, Baby.

By the time we left the doc and started home at 5pm, the Plinkas were about to lose their mind from boredom and unspent energy, and I really had to pee. I found the wheelchair access restroom, because of course, it was the only one that also had a changing station. In the restroom, you had a choice. You could either roll in, in your wheel chair OR put down the changing table, not both. Wheelie Mommas – you are out of luck. I propped the door open, changed both diapers, and then prepared to wheel them in so I could go. Go figure – my stroller, which is narrower than a wheel chair couldn’t get through the door. I wasn’t about to leave them alone in the hallway, so Wheelie Mommas, don’t feel bad – we are all out of luck! I pinched my knees together and on we went.

I kept my promise and we stopped at the park for half an hour. It was the best part of the day for everyone. We finally rolled in the door at 7:15 and my mind was completely blown away by the sheer magnitude of the travel of the day. In total, we rode 18 elevators, four trains, walked over 5km (3.2 miles), and (I) used Zero restrooms. We were gone for 6 hours – for a doctor visit that lasted 20 minutes. It’s cool. Next time I will pack a mini-cooler and we will leave at 11.

No longer feeling dissed, I think I’ll ask her to lunch again.



One Response to “Just getting around…”

  1. Jan September 28, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    young energetic strong. I am exhausted just reading this account of one of your days!

    DO! invite again friend for lunch- – -and make it a fun full day outing!


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