Jet lag. Twelve hours of time difference. Exactly opposite of what we were used to. Adults have a hard enough time with jet lag. We can rationalize to ourselves why we feel so out of sync with our surroundings, and force ourselves to stay up as long as needed at our new destination in order to quickly acclimatize to our new destination. For a three year old and 18 month old, a rational explanation of why they need to either stay up or go to sleep NOW doesn’t work under normal bed time circumstances, let alone when day and night are so perfectly backwards to what they are used to.
The first few nights in Hong Kong, our girls would wake up around 2 in the morning, wide awake. We would combat this by giving them a snack, some Benadryl, and let them watch one movie. After the movie they would go back to sleep until a more normal waking time.
About the 3rd or 4th night we had gone to bed, and everyone woke up around 11pm. My husband was our late night food scavenger. On previous nights he would come back to the hotel bearing chocolate milk and Pocky. (We all loved Pocky after this trip.) On this particular night, he came back and asked if we all wanted to go to a steakhouse. Under normal circumstances, our restaurant of choice is more often a thai restaurant, or one that is very kid friendly, like California Pizza Kitchen. However, these were not normal circumstances, and isn’t that part of the fun of traveling?
So, we set out with our two small children at 11:30pm to go to Wooloomooloo Steakhouse in Tsim Sha Tsui. When we arrived it was mostly empty. The staff was very accommodating and friendly, although surprised to see us at that late hour. They did look very confused when we asked for a high chair. They didn’t have any, and in British English, at least in Hong Kong, it is called a baby chair or baby seat. But the Chinese people in Hong Kong seemed to love children. The whole time we were there they would ask to hold them, or take pictures with them. One of our girls was very blond at the time, and they were somewhat awed by the color of her hair. A pile of cushions was brought over to the table for our children to sit on.
By the time we ordered and our food arrived, which was very good, the restaurant was mostly empty. Besides our family, there was one group of Japanese businessmen who were drinking and dancing to the live band playing. The band members were all Chinese, and they were singing American songs. It seems like we hear American songs all over the world when we travel, even in very out of the way places. Picture the situation. Our very American family with two little girls at an Australian Steakhouse in Hong Kong in the middle of the night, with Japanese businessmen dancing to a Chinese cover band singing American songs. Do you know what made the surreal experience even more surreal? They started singing “Play That Funky Music”.
Sometimes the most memorable travel experiences are hidden in the most mundane of tasks, like dealing with jet lag or feeding your family. I guess the trick is to be in the moment, and find enjoyment in the new and different.