The ride took 35 minutes and as we passed from station to station, the car got more and more packed. For every 22 people for got off, 37 got on. By the next to last station, I was standing straight up with my arms at my side, the feeling being that it wasn’t fair to take up any extra room by folding my arms and putting my hands in my pocket.

As we ran along the expressway down below, I could see a wedding party making their way to town, a white stretch Lincoln, festooned with bouquets followed by 10 identical black sedans, each with a purple ribbon tied to the side view mirrors.

I took a few minutes on the platform to read the train map, figuring it would be helpful when it comes time to buy my return ticket. I must be getting localized, because I was able to read “Kai Fa Qu” using my pocket dictionary only to verify my assumption. It was absolute bedlam outside the station. Hundreds of tour buses jammed every which way in the lot. Hawkers selling tours to the beach blocked your way out the door. Taxis relying on their horns instead of their steering wheel – it was too much noise after the train ride that had been relatively quiet, its only noises being the creaks, groans and scrapes that suggested it was coming off the track. It took me a few moments to get my bearings as I have never come into town this way. Using the Hotel Nikko as a landmark I went off in the direction of the market. The Swissotel confirmed the correctness of my choice.

I wandered into the fancy mall to use the rest room and discovered much to my chagrin that my favorite restaurant is gone. That sad fact served to confirm my choice of living in Kai Fa Qu as its sister branch is straight across the street from my hotel.

Next stop was Starbucks for a – guess what – Americano, this time served up with a pumpkin scone.

Sent on the prowl via Blackberry