Hong Kong, Hong Kong
10.25.2008 - 10.26.2008 83 °F
So, I took the train into Hong Kong two days ago and this morning I leave for Macau. It's been a whirlwind and I've fallen in love with Hong Kong in the process--well, parts of it.
It's been nice to be somewhere where people speak the language ('the language', of course, being English--how ethnocentric of me). When I got here I took the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor from Kowloon (the Northern Shore) to Hong Kong Island (the southern shore) where I'm staying. I can say this with absolute certainty--I chose the PERFECT place to stay. It is a hotel called Bishop Lei International run by the Catholic diocese (did I even come close to spelling that right?) and it's more expensive than most 'budget' accomodation. But it's literally nestled in the foothills of Victoria Peak. The only downside is it's not a hostel so it's impossible to find friends to pal around with. C'est la vie.
Once I got settled I decided to find the Victoria Peak tram so I could get a good view of the city. I knew it was close by. So I picked a direction and started walking.
On the way I found the mid-level escalators (touted as the longest in the world), a grocery store having a Western foods celebration (thank God!), a lightpole covered in U.S. dollars, the Hong Kong Zoo and Botanical Gardens, an Evangelical church hosting an annual gala (complete with a mangnificent an incense you could smell for blocks after), a street carnival (with clowns, music, food, liquor, dancing and an Englishman who sang 'What a Wonderful World' to me in a dead on Louis Armstrong impression), a Halloween costume contest of hundreds and two ATM's that refused my debit card (though others finally took it).
Obviously I didn't exactly take the direct route.
Once I finally found it I had to wait in line to buy a ticket for almost 45 minutes. I had been hoping to catch sunset but when I got to the top it was dark. All the better--the city was all lit up and glittering. Stunning. Don't worry, I took a lot of pictures.
I splurged on an 56 dollar cab (then realized it only translated to about 8 US dollars and felt pretty good about myself. By the way, a 1.5 Litre bottle of water is about 50 cents, the Star Ferry First Class tops out at about a quarter.
Yesterday I went to Tsim Sha Tsui and all around Kowloon. Kowloon is the more stereotypical Hong Kong you think of. Loud and filled with signs and lights and people. It's a little much for me. I could however, happily live in the Mid-Levels of Hong Kong Island forever I think. I visited the famed Ladies Market--which to me was just like any other street market I've ever seen--and the Flower market which was lovely. I just wished I could buy some but I figured customs wouldn't like me taking flowers.
The funniest thing here--there are these women--hundreds of them--who just sit along these wide pedestrian walkways on cardboard all day and they eat, gossip and gamble all day. One woman was even cutting and styling hair! They don't look remotely homeless though. It's just like their hangout spot. It's just weird. Anyone know what this is about?
For my last night I decided to go to High Tea at the Peninsula which was worth every penny. The service was immaculate and everything was heavenly. Complete with clotted cream and a 5 piece orchestra in the balcony about the dining area.
After I saw the light show--cheesy but fun anyway.
And then, I went crazy.
I was sitting next to this western guy and was considering striking up a conversation when he got up to leave. So I followed him. Not 'went after him'. No, more like I tailed him (ala Veronica Mars). I just wanted to see where he'd go. I followed him all the way down the Avenue of Stars, across the ferry terminals, up a grand staircase, through a mall and up an escalator to the second floor of a department store when I lost him. And found the hat department.
I ended up buying two hats (a fedora and a red beret) and finally answering the question, 'What shall I buy from Hong Kong?'.
Satisfied with myself, I went home and watched international English news like it was going out of style. Good News--the whole world is obsessed with the election and pretty much all of them want Obama to win. At least BBC and the six other random stations I got.
On to Macau!!