Hong Kong – Modern and Vertical

Filed under: Hong Kong — Russell @ 6:58 pm  

We LOVED Hong Kong!

We stayed with Steve who I met on the improv course this summer in Calgary. He lives a 3 minute walk from Causeway Bay. The first morning we went up to the Peak and walked around (Lugard Road), rubbing shoulders with the uber-wealthy expats.

Our friend Erin spent months living in Hong Kong working on media displays for the Hong Kong Museum of history. It was very cool and we learned a lot about the Opium wars and the Japanese occupation.

Most mornings I had breakfast at Café Zambra, an upscale café with good coffee and free WiFi. I was delighted to find that the owner is from Calgary. His accent gave him away. In fact Hong Kong is very similar to Vancouver with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other and the rumour is that over 200,000 Canadians live and work here.

One night we had drinks at a 32nd story rooftop bar. With only waist height glass barriers between you and oblivion, Hong Kong restaurateurs are clearly not concerned with liability. It is highly recommended you settle the bill rather than dine and drop.

With so many people in such a small place, Hong Kong is a vertical city. Large department stores go up rather than out. We went to Sogo which was 15 floors. Steve showed us a high rise where floors 10-15 are all stalls selling electronics.

Bought 2 voice SIMs and a data SIM at the airport for $25. Telco is pretty cheap. For that price got 50 megs data, 2 x 400 minute voice.

We had some very authentic Dim Sum including a TV showing Bruce Lee movies.

We were lucky to see an improv show starring our talented host.

We drank at several bars along Wan Chai (avoiding the “free drinks”).

One night we visited Temple Street. The street vendors were selling the usual knock offs but more interesting were the fortune tellers. My favourite is the bird which picks your fortune from a deck of cards. There was also some intriguing street Karaoke. We were beckoned by the small group belting out some song in Chinese. They seemed to be having fun but we declined their enthusiastic, drunken offer to join in.

We also pub crawled Lan Kwai Fong. This included donning fur coasts and drinking vodka in a freezer room. I think this was meant to simulate Moscow. Outside we saw sailors flirting with the local girls. Apparently, letting a girl wear your hat is an advanced stage of courtship although it wasn’t the most advanced courtship ritual we saw on the street.

We’ve been surprised how many countries have Christmas displays. In Dubai the airport had a Christmas tree. In Hong Kong the skyscrapers along the waterfront have light displays that span dozens of floors. When Christmas is over a few minor adjustments and the same lights celebrate Chinese New Year. A very pragmatic approach.

Hong Kong is clearly a business city. Everyone is discussing business. Everyone is networking. The café and restaurants are filled with earnest young men wearing the financial industry’s version of casual wear.

The shopping is amazing. You can get anything you need. We replenished our supplies and replaced some clothes. This was a welcome change from Morocco. In fact just having taxi drivers who charged by the meter was a relief.

All in all, a fantastic trip and a big thanks to Steve and Krystal for showing us the city.


Restless feet and the long jump

Filed under: Hong Kong,Morocco — Russell @ 3:03 pm  

[We are in Christchurch and I’m finally catching up on the blog]

After spending 5 weeks in Morocco we decided on a change of scenery.  Even Essaouira was beginning to drop below 20 degrees centigrade.  So we started looking for a new place to go.

This summer in Calgary I met Stephen, a Canadian living in Hong Kong.  He invited Carol and I to visit him and even offered us a place to stay.  Checking the weather forecast in Hong Kong sealed the deal and we booked our flight.

This kicked off a three day travel blitz.

It took a day to travel from Essaouira to Casablanca where the major airlines land.  We arrived late and spend a long time sitting in traffic.  Our hotel was next to the train station so the next day we took a train to the airport.  The airport was not very busy and we boarded our Emirates flight to Dubai.

We were a bit concerned flying through Dubai as a Canadian couple had recently been stopped and jailed for a month while the UAE authorities tested their migraine medication to ensure it wasn’t contraband.  We cleaned out our first aid kit of anything with an ambiguous label.  Some head ache medication contains codeine which will get you a minimum four year sentence.  We considered ditching our one month supply of anti-malarial tablets but they were well packed, labelled and we had a clear prescription.

The flight was easy and the cabin well appointed.  The meals were better than the usual airline fare.  The back of seat entertainment was excellent.  You can watch dozens of movies, TV and hundreds of songs.  There is also a nose camera so you can get a pilot’s eye view of the flight.

The Dubai airport transit lounge is like a large high end shopping mall complete with restaurants, shops and a hotel.  We rented a room for 6 hours and slept like the dead.  The room was excellent but we hardly noticed.  The next morning we caught the flight to Hong Kong.  All told we spent 36 hours in transit (not including getting to Casablanca) and crossed 8 timezones.


Lights of Hong Kong

Filed under: Hong Kong — Russell @ 12:43 pm  

Just arrived in Hong Kong. The city looks amazing at night. Can’t wait to explore tomorrow.


Hong Kong

Filed under: Hong Kong,Plans — Russell @ 11:28 am  
December 8, 2010toDecember 13, 2010
February 12, 2011toFebruary 28, 2011