Hong Kong in July is likely to get you soaked. You know it, but still it is unpredictable, still you get surprised. Tropical showers are frequent and heavy and the water comes down with such power that streets quickly become rivers.
We had spent a day exploring the city, occasionally ducking inside bars and restaurants as showers came and went. At some point we realized the rain kept pouring and getting heavier and decided to take a taxi and head to our Wan Chai hotel.
After a well deserved late afternoon rest and changing into dry clothes, we had an early dinner at our hotel’s restaurant as it was still raining. It was dark already, below us people rushed cross the streets under their umbrellas, rows of occupied taxis headed to all directions as the rain kept hitting the black asphalt. Should we stay at the hotel or see if there are some local cocktail bars around?
Mikaela would have her 40th birthday the next day, just a few hours after our dinner we could raise a toast. Before any lazy thoughts and rain excuses would come in the way of our adventurous plans we took the elevator to street level and headed to the quiet, rainy side streets.
There were small restaurants, with yummy looking menus displayed outside, part of the dishes made of ingredients we didn’t know or recognize. Small shops that had already closed for the day, aluminium roller shutters pulled down and locked. Residential buildings, a car wash. We walked in the rain, without an umbrella, but with a positive trust in finding a place to have a drink or two.
And then bingo: a bar! We entered a dim lit room with locals singing karaoke, drinking and having fun. As we came in we got long, curious looks. There were beige, faux leather sofas rounding part of the bar walls, with small tables and matching, low stools in the same light beige color with the sofas. The walls were covered with a collection of posters, framed photos, memorabilia, promotional items from beverage companies.
For the karaoke entertainment there were a couple of tv’s attached to the wall above the sofas and to the opposite wall as well. This particular part of the bar seemed to be the most popular area, there was a non-stop line of singers performing high-pitched, romantic, Chinese Schlagers and traditional melodies.
We walked to the tiny little bar with a couple of bar stools by the counter, sat down and ordered drinks. The man behind the counter, maybe in his fifties, wanted to know where are we from and how ended up to this bar of all bars. As the conversation got more varied he wanted to know what we do for living in Finland and we explained we are entrepreneurs in the night club industry.
At that point the man’s eyes lit up, he explained us he is the owner of the place. And of the two female waiters the better half of the owner. Suddenly we were all talking about our lives as entrepreneurs in the night life and bar business, the similarities and the differences. Here we were, discussing our industry pros and cons in the rainy Hong Kong, talking and laughing like old friends.
A local couple in their twenties arrived after midnight, everyone congratulated the guy. He and his female companion sat down and the bar owners brought them a birthday cake, a pile of paper plates and spoons. Everyone was invited to dig in, take some delicious cake that under all the fluffy whipped cream seemed to include mango slices, pineapple, maybe some raspberry. And then we were given plates as well. To be honest, the idea of consuming this fluffy cake didn’t sound like the most healthy option.
We, however, enjoyed chunks of cake and the bar owner told people that Mikaela from Finland also celebrates her 40th birthday. Oh, happy day! Everyone wanted to take photos of us, the total strangers. Endless photos, posing with the bar owners, the customers and as a couple. The locals were very good at trying to get us to sing karaoke as well, but fortunately weren’t offended when we told we’d rather listen to them perform. After every song, when we applauded, someone wanted to take one more photo or two more. To our surprise Mikaela was also given a birthday present by the bar owners, a very practical mobile phone stand with a grip.
It was such a laughter filled night, warm and genuine. The conversation topics at the bar counter didn’t seem to end, but at one point we decided to head back to our hotel to get some hours of sleep. The rain had stopped, walking down the street we felt warm and happy. Before leaving we promised to pop in again the night before leaving back home. We exchanged contacts and to this day, we keep in touch with the bar owners. Meeting new people on the road is one of the best parts of travel. Finding soulmates is a blessing.
(This blog post is participating Momondo Blogger’s Open World Awards 2018.)