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My Hong Kong Thanksgiving (November 24-25, 2016)

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For the first time in my life, I got to experience Thanksgiving outside of America… Since I’ve grown so accustomed to waiting in long lines on Black Friday, I guess you could say that subconsciously speaking, I made it my duty this past Friday to go out looking for “trouble”…

So, I decided to FINALLY head on over to Lantau Island and do the touristy thing (which I’ve resisted up to now), which is to take the cable car ride, Ngong Ping 360, and explore an area of Hong Kong that I’ve neglected…

When I said “waiting in long lines”, I really wasn’t kidding around…

“Black Friday” at Ngong Ping 360 was no joke!


After an hour of moving at a snail’s pace… I still hadn’t made much progress…


But as is usually the case, in the long run, patience usually prevails in helping us reach our goals!


However, being the newb that I am (still), like a sucker, I opted to purchase the 2-way pass to hop onboard the “Crystal Cabin”, which for all intents and purposes (as far as I could tell) offered NOTHING extra of value to the “Standard Cabin”…


Sure, the exterior sparkles, and there’s a glass bottom for your viewing pleasure as you ascend above the water/mountains, but outside of that and perhaps shaving off maybe 10-15 minutes waiting in line (they split the lines between the two cabin options and the majority of folks will elect to pay less and go with the “Standard Cabin”), I dunno what more you get that really “enhances” the experience enough to make the extra costs worthwhile…

Here’s a description, highlighting the differences between the two options.

From Ngong Ping 360.


And the price difference, which is somewhat significant (for frugal tightwads like myself).

From Ngong Ping 360.


The “Standard Cabin” runs for $255 HKD ($32.88 USD) and the “Crystal Cabin” goes for $325 HKD ($41.90 USD)…

Yeah, if I could do it all over again, I would have opted to go with the “Standard Cabin” and to have used the $10 USD saved to buy lunch/dinner/snacks or something along those lines…

Anyway, those are just my thoughts.. Of course, I wasn’t going to let something so trivial such as the above “rip off” ruin my day…

Nope, when you’re in early FI, all you really want to do is maximize life and have a good time! I’m speaking TRUTH here… Once you’ve walked away from 9-5 Corporate Bullshit, for realz, you want very little (or NOTHING) to do with things that will stress you out and not add real meaning to your life…

So, sure, I got scammed a bit, but you live and learn… I probably should had done more research in advance, but now I know… And so does anyone else reading this.

Moving on… At the very start of the ascent…


Hong Kong does get a little cloudy and cold during this time of year, but I am appreciating the subtle changes in the weather since the summer months were so hot and humid…


The “can’t miss” Main Attraction starts to become visible to the naked eye at about ~20 minutes into the ride… It takes about ~25-30 minutes in total to get from Start to Finish on the cable cars.


Ngong Ping Village

Ngong Ping village, the “other side”, is so quaint and charming… It sort of reminds me of the look and feel you get when you’re skiing/snowboarding in Lake Tahoe at Northstar or one of those ski resorts…


Do you got yo’ popcorn ready?


This was interesting…


Making my way towards the Main Attraction…


268 steps to the top…


Spectacular sights to behold all around…


Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha)

At last, I reached the top platform (accessible to visitors)…

Tian Tan Buddha (aka Big Buddha) is a large bronze statue that was completed in 1993.

From Wikipedia.

The statue is 34 metres (112 ft) tall, weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons), and was constructed from 202 bronze pieces


What a site, indeed! Up to this point, I would say that the Big Buddha statue is the single most impressive thing that I’ve seen so far in Hong Kong… Definitely well worth the price of admission and the excruciatingly long waiting in line… I really had to idea what to expect because I did ZERO research prior to making my trip out here…

As a traveller, oftentimes I embrace the unknown because it allows me the opportunity to be surprised and “blown away”, in a good way…

Definitely, you could say that I’ve had my fair share of “Wow” moments, ever since quitting my job and moving overseas this past summer…

Add another one to the list…

On the way back, it was another long wait in line, so I decided to re-hydrate with a hot beverage…


And that was my Black Friday in HK…

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao

Prior to that, I celebrated Thanksgiving, HK style, indulging in xiao long bao, fried rice, and green onion pancake!


One of my favorite “comfort food” dishes…


Been a big fan of this since I was a little kid…


If there was ever a time to indulge…


TASTE Market

And the closest I got to locating “traditional” Thanksgiving day food…


And out of just plain boredom, after my feast, I went walking around the local mall, hunting for a good beverage to cleanse the palate…

I didn’t know what I wanted, so I tried a little bit of everything…


Not your typical, standard fare on Thanksgiving? Who gives a sheet… My stomach was plenty satisfied! 😉

Bottom line, when it comes down to it, I believe that early FI and life should be basically whatever it is that you want it to be… Just continue to do you and make sure you are happy and having a good time in the process…

With that in mind, I call tell you that I’m constantly reminding myself to embrace life without following any hard and fast rules… Not everybody likes to approach things that way, but it works for me so I’m not about to start changing for anyone else…

The “Unauthentic Life” is one that I never ever want to experience again… Been there, done that!

Quite frankly, the last 5-6 months have been an absolute blast… And I’m most thankful and appreciative of that… After grinding it away in Corporate America for the better part of the last decade, you could say that over time I started to get really sick and tired of watching that same ol’ repetitive film over and over and over and over, again and again, day after day…

The “highlights” were few and far in-between, and most of the time I was no different than a robot (zombie) who was just going through the motions…

Sad but true…

Now that I’m in HK and living life on my own terms, I couldn’t be any happier… Sure, I’m not “making it rain” every single day and night, I’m quite careful with my spending habits and all that, but you know what, I don’t need all that flash and bling to have the time of my life, anyway…

I’m a most simple and frugal guy!

Give me the freedom of time and choice, and I don’t require all that much more to be beyond ecstatic… So, I will say this to you, straight up — Early FI can definitely work if you open up your mind to infinite possibilities… I’ve spoken about this many times before in the past, and everything that I’ve done up to date really started to hit home these past two days…

Thanksgiving is an excellent time for reflection…

For myself, this is what I’m talking about right here… FINALLY, a movie reel that I wouldn’t mind watching again someday off into the distant future…


A life of exploring, adventure, and non-stop randomness…


Please sign me up for many, many, many more sequels to this series…


This “New Life” is one that I’m quite enamored with!


Screw all the naysayers and haters out there who will ALWAYS try to put you down, telling you why you can’t succeed and achieve your life goals and ambitions…


Never cave in, and don’t accept defeat! Just keep grinding, hustling, swimming… You will get there, no doubt!


It’s so funny, just recently an old co-worker told me that one of my former bosses was asking about me, so my buddy informed him that I had “retired and was out traveling across Asia.

The old curmudgeon had this to say, “That guy (FI Fighter) is such a slacker, just pissing his life away… He had a gift and he threw it all away… No longer contributing to society and acting like an immature kid… Who does he think he is?


Blah, blah, blah…


The nerve that some people have, can you believe it?!? Thinking they know what’s best for you and your own unique situation!




But let me tell you, when you’re out having the time of your life, all that NEGATIVITY just crumbles away and gets left by the wayside… Or maybe it all permeates through the glass floor of the “Crystal Cabin” and falls into the ocean…


Doesn’t really matter where it goes, it’s gone and out of my life entirely now…


At this point, it’s all immaterial.


Never forget, all you’ll ever get is ONE life to live and there is no such thing as a rewind (do over) button!…


Life is too short to have any regrets! Rules were meant to be broken, so break them and carry on with a smile on your face while you’re doing it…


Just live your life!


Fight On!

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • HristoNo Gravatar November 26, 2016, 3:07 am

    Hi Jay,

    When you step out of the crowd, you can’t expect to get a good reception from everyone. People tend to accept models, established rules and prevailing beliefs because within the framework you feel safe, conventional and “just like everyone else”. So everyone that get out of that framework is almost always labeled as weird, unacceptable and immature subject.

    I can’t recall the exact quote but it was something like “if you follow the paved path, you will arrive where everyone else is”. And if you do not like that perspective it is a huge relief to acknowledge it and try to seek you way. Because life indeed must be lived in the best possible way and the way which will make you really happy.

    Being independent (from your employer, government, etc.) is so wonderful that I hope to be able to achieve the same some day. I am really happy for you because you realized you need to get out of the matrix. You had a plan, followed it, refused to be distracted from anyone within the framework and now bear fruits of all your efforts. Keep it up!


    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 26, 2016, 5:33 am


      Thanks for commenting and for that insightful, clear explanation!

      I agree with you — It isn’t easy going against the grain and doing something which is essentially the antithesis of everything we are taught in school and in the workplace…

      But as we all know, life is entirely too short and time is our most precious commodity… Once it’s gone, it’ gone forever and we can never buy it back… So, hence the strong push for early FI.

      Times are changing, and I am hopeful/encouraged that future generations will see the light and this entire early FI movement will become the norm way of thinking…

      Once you’re in early FI and experiencing the day-to-day bliss of true freedom, I assure you, there’s absolutely no going back… I don’t mean in the sense you never work again or for an employer, but knowing that you can walk away at anytime with no negative ramifications is entirely different from someone who feels forced and coerced into having to do something against their will…

      The fight for early FI is something EVERYONE needs to strive for… I’m more certain of that now than ever before.

      Best wishes!

  • MiningBookGuyNo Gravatar November 26, 2016, 7:19 am

    Great post/thoughts Jay! Cool pictures too…mmmmmm, ‘Hong Kong Thanksgiving’ sure looks yummy! 😛


    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:01 am


      Haha, yeah that was my Thanksgiving and it was pretty good too! First time I didn’t have turkey, but it was a new experience and lots of fun.

      Hope you had a great holiday with family!


  • weenieNo Gravatar November 26, 2016, 10:14 am

    Haha, I went for the Crystal Cabin too when I visited Ngong Ping a few years ago – I have to say that because I’m not great with heights, the glass bottom certainly made the trip a little more exciting!

    The Big Buddha – it is awesome, plus (maybe as there were less tourists when I visited) I found it extremely peaceful up there.

    Your food photos remind me why I always put on weight when I visit HK – hence, I’m trying to lose it now so that I can just errr, put it back on again on my trip next month! 🙂

    Keep up the great updates!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:03 am


      LOL, yeah the name “Crystal” sounded so cool I thought it had to be something really special… The glass floor is cool but I’m not sure if it’s worth the extra price of admission, but it’s still lots of fun, so no regrets.

      The Big Buddha is definitely the coolest thing I’ve seen in HK so far… I absolutely would recommend anyone visiting HK to check it out.

      Haha, next time you are out here, we will need to meet up and grab lots of tasty food :)))


  • PetruskoNo Gravatar November 26, 2016, 10:55 pm

    Thanks for sharing, what a cool experience. I enjoyed reading and watching all the photos.

    I wish you all the best

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:04 am


      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you are enjoying the posts, photos, and blog.

      Best wishes!

  • Conor McGregorNo Gravatar November 28, 2016, 6:32 am

    Great post.

    I don’t know if you’ve done this already but I would love to see a plan of how you actually became FI while working for Corporate America. What did you do to save money? Any tools you used? Were your investments more risky at the time?

    What I’m trying to ask is how can a 26 year old like me who has been working for Corporate America for the past 3 years eventually become FI by say 30 or 35?

    Thanks for your all work and please do share more posts like this about your life.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:07 am


      Most of my history is well documented in the archives… Essentially, I started investing and blogging in 2012 and got to early FI primarily through real estate investing and cash flow from rental properties… I was lucky in the sense I bought the bulk of my core assets starting in 2012 when real estate was basically selling at bargain basement prices…

      To be honest, markets are so dynamic it’s difficult to pinpoint how someone starting out today or in the middle of their journey now will best get to the endgame in the least amount of time… All I can really say is be a fan of opportunity and look for deep value investments… When you are paying retail price like everyone else, there’s not much alpha you’ll be able to extract, not enough anyway to realistically get to early FI in a very short amount of time… To do that (e.g. retire at 30) you’ll need shortcuts, which don’t come around too often.

      Take care!

  • ChristianNo Gravatar November 28, 2016, 8:01 am

    Lol Jay @ the crystal cabin. I did the same thing when I first got to HK and the see through floor was completely scratched. It was a 30 min wait vs the cheaper option which had absolutely no queue.

    my local colleagues took me out for thanksgiving lunch as they didn’t want me to feel…. homesick? Lol. So, to celebrate my first ever thanksgiving, I hope did some justice to the American way of life with my favourite black bean chicken feet and jasmine tea.

    Btw when you set your FI date. Did you waver much in the preceding weeks/months about extending it out “just a few more months”-? How did you win the mind battle?

    Cheers. Christian

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:08 am


      Hahaha, I have ways to catch up to you my friend! I’m still a newb, and I haven’t had chicken feet since I was probably 9-10 years old… Not sure how my taste buds would handle it now!

      Sounds awesome though and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ll need to hit you up soon to grab lunch again! My apologizes, I’ve been meaning to do that!

      All the best!

  • theFIREstarterNo Gravatar November 28, 2016, 9:30 am

    Nice pics FIF!
    We saw a couple of big Buddha’s in Thailand and was similarly impressed.

    How jealous is your old Co worker, his ranting about you is about as see through as the crystal cabin floor!

    All the best as always

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:10 am


      Oh man, that sounds so awesome, right now i’m itching to start traveling again and Thailand is definitely next on the radar, along with Vietnam… Hopefully I’ll be able to make both happen in the next 3-4 months or so.

      Haha, my old boss is just a party pooper and real “old school” guy who subscribes to 9-5 until 65… If he thinks I’m throwing my life away, so be it, that’s his problem now mine…

      I’m just gonna keep living and enjoying life as best I can 🙂

      All the best!

  • WhitneyNo Gravatar November 28, 2016, 11:02 am

    Thanks for the pics of Tung Chung, I used to live there. Big Buddha is definitely a sight to see, but back in the day we had to take an hour long WINDING bus ride to get up there. Yuck. Haven’t yet had the “pleasure” of riding the cable cars, though it doesn’t sound like such a life changing experience lol.

    Since my husband and I left to travel and work while on the road in August, we have felt the exact same as you described here. Wouldn’t change a thing. It’s been a freaking blast.

    P.S. I had a burrito for Thanksgiving dinner…in NYC. 🙂

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:12 am


      Oh man, I can’t imagine that, sounds like it would be a pretty dizzying experience to have to go through a winding bus ride…

      The cable car ride is pretty cool, but it’s become such a HUGE tourist attraction that the lines are insanely long… It really does take a lot of patience to wait it out… and you’ll have to do it TWICE if you’re riding round trip… Being in early FI, I had no problem with that, but I can only imagine the frustration for anyone who has to rush back home b/c they have work the next morning…

      So awesome that you are having the time of your life traveling! Congrats to you guys for that amazing accomplishment 🙂

      Take care!

  • TawcanNo Gravatar November 28, 2016, 11:47 am

    I’ll remember to take the standard cabin when I visit. I was fully expecting you to post some pictures of chicken feet. Were they not available? 🙂 :p

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 1:13 am


      You got it buddy, stick to the standard ride and save the cash for a good meal on the other side 🙂

      Haha, I don’t know if I have the stomach for chicken feet anymore, but I’m sure my good ol’ buddy in Taiwan will convince me to try that and some more radical stuff whenever I get the chance to visit him… Justin if you are reading this, I’m game if you’re game… But I want to wash whatever weird stuff down with some Michelin star meals!


      • weenieNo Gravatar November 29, 2016, 2:20 am

        When I go for dim sum with the family, someone always orders chicken feet. It’s the only time I have it, but once a year is enough!

  • ChenNo Gravatar November 30, 2016, 6:26 am

    That’s great that you are getting out there and exploring HK. I wish I did more of that before I left but got caught up with work.

  • Investment HuntingNo Gravatar November 30, 2016, 3:34 pm

    Great post, great photos, yummy looking food. Thanks for sharing. It looked like a good experience.

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