This is round 2 of my HK trip, and again picking a layover spot to my trip more interesting (and also HKG->SFO flights were really full).  After considering multiple layover locations in Japan (KIX, FUK, OKA), I ultimately decided I want an open flight to de-stress my travel, and preferably with business class availability.  The search for middle-of-nowhere cities with direct flights to SFO began, and CTU became the obvious choice.

With 1 open seat, I made it on the HKG->CTU flight on Cathay Dragon, and had the opportunity to visit my favorite priority pass lounge of all times - HKG's plaza premium (this time near Gate 1)

Then time to prepare for the flight

Then as usual, with HKG daytime departures, there's air traffic control delays, so we sat and sat and sat and sat..  In the meantime, it was suggested that I should set up WePay for more convenient $$ transactions, but failed..  Apparently to combat money laundering, they placed more restrictive verifications for new accounts, so you'll need a mainland china bank card and/or phone number (?!?!), and I have neither - even if someone can give you red envelope money.  That created a problem during my trip...

Error message when attempting to set up WeChat wallet for foreign accounts

Finally off we go.  This is a 2.5 hour flight (similar to SFO-SEA), so it's an easy flight.  I had the aisle seat on the 2 side of the 2-4-2, so pretty comfy.  Then more food before entering the land of spicy!!!  This would be a perfect meal if they had kabosu....

Then it's time to check-in to my fancy hotel..  $55 USD.  Apparently I'm baller.  Nice view and a nice plaza I guess..  and next to a WeWork.  But I found out later it doesn't have AC...  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!

Then it's time to hit the subway to destination #1 - wide and narrow alley.  So cheap - like 3 yuan?  Except I put in a $20 and it gave me 17 $1 coins.................  Anyways, I enjoyed the some interesting/unique views of the alleys - which were all narrow.

So.. I got hungry again.  Cash was fine here, but definitely the odd one out as every (I mean 99% of the people) uses their phone to pay, and there I am holding cash like an idiot and speaking uninterpretable mandarin.  The food was meh.  Enough to be un-hungry.  Or I just don't know what I'm ordering and too unadventurous to try the white gooey jelly thing or something suspicious to be spicy.  The tortoise jelly was good tho.  I mean - it can't really fail.

Here's the next challenge - getting to the next destination - Wu Hou Shrine.  The easiest, fastest, least walking, and cheapest method is to take this tourist bus that cost $3.  I mean, there's no reason not to, except 2 issues - I can't find the stop, and it only takes mobile payment.  After roaming around and figuring out how this will work out, I finally asked this nice lady who works at the tourist center (with my shitty mandarin of course..  I mean.. I can't even pronounce the destination right) and she was very nice and bought the ticket for me on her phone - though when I paid her back with $3 in coins, she almost didn't want it lol.

QR code to pay the bus fare

Once we're at wu hou, there's an entrance fee to check out the shrine - $50.  Funny that this place is cash only, and there's more than few people walked up, don't have cash, and came back out.  Meanwhile I'm the baller guy with my $100 bill and got my ticket.  The other tourists asked me if I had cash, and I told them I don't have WePay.  End of convo right there.

All the ponds look hella dirty, but the streams/waterfalls look nice...

Then I realized there's a section you can visit for free.  FREE?!?!?!  and it's so decent look and chill...

This time, no more bus and and dealing with mobile payment.  Walked a few blocks to a subway station to head back to where my hotel is, and also the most popular neighborhood - Chunxi road.  I was quite surprised to see a quite modern city (I really thought I was in the middle of nowhere lol)

Chunxi Road walking street

Then dinner plans.. Again - no weird food (no intestines, no white gooey stuff), no seafood, no spicy.  Turns out the first one is spicy..  And I needed my tiger sugar replacement.

Then next morning it's time to go.. enjoy the best part of this trip!  But not after going thru like 5 security checks!  At the subway station, then airport entrance, then entrance to customs, after customs, then at the gate because of my SSSS.  I remember the last time I got SSSS was in Osaka at around the same time..  Maybe it's a yearly thing?  Except this one as done in the open before boarding, so everyone was staring at me while they're waiting to board taking my shoes off, etc.  Weird as shit.  btw, awesome sponge cake at the CTU lounge that I had 5 minutes to enjoy due to long customs line.

I'm still kind of starving at this point, so good thing I got that awesome seat - no seatmate, lie flat sleep all I want, and did not get carded for alcohol.  The dessert cart is always the highlight - I can have the sundae with everything on it, and the tart and the cake?  I went back for seconds after lol.

That's a wrap!  Got back around 7am, and since I got some good sleep on the 12.5 hour flight, it's time to go back to work!  Onward to the next trip (which happens to be 2 days after to Austin).