Monday, October 10, 2011

Middle Kingdom 2010 Part VI: Hong Kong

See the dragonfly... helicopter?
26 July 2010:
The journey by ferry from Macau to Hong Kong took about an hour. Passengers weren't allowed up on deck- in any case there wasn't much of a deck, and I doubt there was anything particularly eye-catching on the way, so it really didn't matter. The boat was pretty comfy too- nice big soft seats, spacious, and air-conditioned- perfect for the footsore traveler.

It was late in the afternoon when I got there- following the directions given to me, I made my way to another pier for the ferry to Ma Wan, otherwise known as Park Island. Met my two cousins in their condo, and crashed there for a few hours before going out with the whole family for dinner at a nearby restaurant.
HK's best drink- yingyong with pearl jellies. The exact combination is hard to find overseas.
27 July 2010:
Went out to various places in search of a PSP, since I'd read somewhere that electronics cost less in this part of the world. Sham Shui Po, Causeway Bay were the main search locations. After lunch and the big purchase made, we parted ways- this being my first full day here, I planned on getting lost, as usual.
Char Chan Ting
A typical Hongkie 'Char Chan Ting', loosely translated as 'tea meal place'. There's no relaxing here- you place your order before taking a seat, eat, and sod off as quick as possible, thank you very much.
"You want some fries with your salt, love?"
A poster for the movie 'Salt' starring Angelina Jolie, which was showing at the time. I must be the only person who thought that it had something to do with the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties of old, with the exception of some boffins in the Pentagon.
Because Goku said so.
The Monkey King Sun Wukong, more commonly known as Son Goku- no, not the one that transforms into a plasma-firing spiky blondie, but the mythological spirit that did a pretty good job at invading heaven until Buddha decided to stick his nose in. How times have changed- he's now employed by MTR Hong Kong.
Going up? Going down? Going round?
I am impressed. I've never seen an escalator that curls like this one does- now I hope someone will come up with one that mimics a creaky spiral staircase.
Don't touch or kick. He'll get angry.
Some interesting street art. This one here's a rhinoceros made from old tyres. The horn seems a little exaggerated, though... and it just looks funny with it's short tail.
Antelope? Cantelope? Guadeloupe?
Mehhh. Mehhh. Mehh... *neck cramp*

More of the same. A zebra, and... I'm no biologist, but I'll hazard a guess- an antelope, I suppose.
No idea what this was supposed to be. An outlet for foam? Uh. Wait, foam? Hong Kong submerged by bubbles... now that would be a sight to behold.
Rain, rain, go away, come back another day (once I'm gone)
Ohh no. Not again. Please no (oh yes, actually). Sigh. This sight gave me the jitters. Half of that skyscraper was obscured by clouds- dark ones at that. Didn't have much of a choice but to soldier on and ignore the warning signs.
Signs everywhere. Which shop they point to is a mystery.
Wandered into an older side of town- Chinatown, if that's possible in a place that's part of China. It felt more Chinese than the rest of HK I'd seen, somehow. And if you're wondering why I posted the picture of that car- here's a little exercise. Ignore the car, and look at its registration plate- or ignore the registration plate and look at the car. I'd formulated a complex psychological theory based on the two choices, but as with all such ridiculous ideas, they fade quickly if not recorded. Make one up yourself, if you feel up to it...
I want one! OK I can't believe I said that. But come on, a brabag? It's so ridiculous it transcends biological,  social, and practical boundaries. I don't know what I'd do with it- I'd never use it, but still...
Big white one there ruining the mood.
Remnants of Hong's boat people? I didn't know they still existed.
New word learned. Even if it's sounds silly.
Station car park, I understand. Shroff, I do not. You learn something new every day, eh.
Cloudy from Victoria Peak
28 July 2010:
'Day 2' in Hong Kong. Apparently it wasn't just rain yesterday- four hurricanes off the coast of Shenzhen, if I read the news correctly.
First a winding escalator, and now a long one...
First stop of the day- the world's longest escalator, all 800 meters of it. Started from the bottom and made my way up, the escalator going up in the morning, and down in the afternoon, if I remember it correctly.
Taking healthy sleeping to the next level.
Organic sleeping place? What, beds made from compost? Or, seeing as there's a Canadian flag there- a pile of maple leaves?
Bamboo scaffolding.
I find it lovely that they use bamboo for scaffolding. It looks a lot better than the rusty steel used elsewhere in the world. And to all the environmentalists screaming 'off with his head' at me, bamboo grows as quickly and easily as rabbits breed like, well, rabbits.
Bloody steep.
Take some time off to branch off left and right of the escalator- there were many interesting shops and pretty streets along the way- though I didn't really do so, no thanks to the leaking sky, of course.
Took a bus up to Victoria Peak after that- VP being one of the main tourist destinations in HK. It probably has the best view of the whole island. Not today though. At least it wasn't so bad- I could still see some of the city. It could have been worse.
Tram tracks. I took the bus up, so I had no idea where the station was located. I think it cost more than the bus, though.
Oh look, it's Castle Wolfenstein. Most likely the home of one of HK's tycoons.
Come on, you've gotta be kidding me. These guys register everything around here. I wouldn't be surprised if they taxed it based on its gradient.
Oh dear. Time to run for cover.
Ran into the mall- yes, there's one at the top, with some shops and restaurants, and a lookout point on the roof. There was a little exhibition going on- about Chinese Opera, and some of the costumes used were on display. Up on the roof I came across a bunch of monks- one of them holding a DSLR (insert sound of jaw dropping aka Wile E. Coyote). Monks are supposed to be paragons of generosity and niceness- I couldn't help but wonder if they'd accept a trade of cameras if I'd offered to dry their damp pates...

One lady tried to sell me some sort of sea salt based skin product. I don't think I looked like the type who would have been interested- till this day I still think she was bored and wanted to talk to someone for a change instead of standing in one spot like a nubile statue. Or, if I'm feeling particularly narcissistic, I just imagine that she was drooling all over me. She wasn't- but she did lather some sea salt gel on me, though I didn't buy any anyway.
 Bloody heavy rain on the way down. The drainage system couldn't take all of it, and a lot of water was sloshing over the roads. Late on I found out that the government had issued a black storm cloud warning- pretty much the highest level, just short of a typhoon.
A delightful surprise- I actually passed by the Foreign Correspondents' Club, a site featured in many novels.
Nothing much was possible, really. Headed back for some sustenance and warmth.
Western Market
29 July 2010:
The weather seemed fine today. Took one of Hong Kong's old trams for a spin- well it took me for a spin, a slow stately one meandering in a set direction.
I suppose they banned all trade with Shanghai.
Sitting upstairs- all trams are double-deckers- allows for an interesting perspective on the city. For one thing, people look like dwarfs or hobbits when all you see of them is the top of their skull and a bit of limb lolling about.
Brown plastic to match brown wood.
Upstairs again. The seats weren't that comfortable- and they had this irritating tendency to absorb heat, of which the day produced in abundance (Ignore my English- let's just pretend that heat is not a noticeable physical manifestation of supercharged molecules and radiation, but something countable like apples. On second thought, maybe you should ignore my science too).
Round 1
I headed to the end of my chosen line- Kennedy Town (Maybe JFK visited once and they renamed the place after him). I didn't see anything particularly Kennedyish about the place, but then again there's nothing Victorian about Victoria Peak either. Blunch was a bowl of steaming hot fish porridge and a stick of yao char koay (Google it).
Round 2
The nice thing about eating further out from the city center (Or maybe it was just the time) was that there wasn't that much of a rush, though the restaurant was rather small. Took my time and had a bowl of red bean soup- it had a strip of lemon in it- something many restaurateurs neglect to include, but greatly diminishes its flavour.

Starcraft Wings of Liberty Bus
Viva Liberty. I took a stroll around the area before deciding that there wasn't much to see in the little township, and headed back to the city, making my way to Hong Kong Park.
Spot the odd bit on this building.
One of the narrowest buildings I've ever seen. Hmm. Or should it be skinny? Compressed? Thin? Oh bother. Moving on...
Poor girl. I don't know what she was holding the candle for, but it obviously didn't do any good- unless you view two punches to the face as something beneficial.
That's the way- smile!
I got off at a night market near Wan Chai. Didn't buy anything, but passed by a tea shop which had egg tarts on display- obviously their specialty. I made a mental note to return, but couldn't find it. On a side note I saw a girl with a purple shirt which had the most dangerous tag-line emblazoned on it: "feel these words, delay no more". Oh no. Sweetheart, you're just asking for trouble wearing that thing...
Still, they probably do better than Skinnyburger
Fatburger. I can't imagine who'd eat in a place like that. I suppose their company goal is to create a nation of obese bowling balls.
Park Entrance
At long last, the entrance to Hong Kong Park. Well, one of the entrances, at least- I'm pretty sure that I came out from a different direction. I wandered around for some time- sadly the aviary (Entrance F.O.C) was closed, and contented myself with some sweating and gaping at greenery, before leaving for more random wandering to close off the day. Oh, and before I forget, yes, it did rain a little today.

Ma Wan, otherwise known as Park Island
30 July 2010:
My second last day in Hong Kong. The plan for today was to go to the Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong (ACGHK) exhibition- which I shall leave to another post. So without ado, some pictures of Park Island, where I stayed.
Noah's Ark
It's known as Park Island because of the Noah's Ark theme park- you can see the Ark in the distance. I didn't go. Seriously, if Disneyland Hong Kong couldn't tempt me with promises of hugs from Minnie Mouse or the chance to kick Donald Duck on the rump, do you think a biblical-themed park consisting of a large wooden ship and a bunch of animals (I'm not sure if they were real or reproductions) interest me? The Ark however, is quite impressive, for which it won the honour of having a picture taken from far, far away.
There's a section of the beach cordoned off for swimming. It's rather small, as you can see. Of course, you can swim outside the cordon...
Now you know why. the risk of being nibbled by a shark. It's your choice.
All things considered, it's a lovely place to live in, although there's nothing much to do besides enjoying the view, which is magnificent, provided you don't mind living in an condominium- the only other place to live in with a comparable view is the top of Victoria Peak (I'm assuming this)- possibly somewhere like Castle Wolfenstein (Refer to earlier photo) but you'd need to be insanely rich for that.
Southorn. No, it's not a typo.
Time skip. After the Convention/Exhibition I headed to Fortress Hill station to meet up with my uncle- after that we'd head on to his uncle's place for dinner. Before that, I had some time so I wandered around for a bit.
Seedy bar.
A seedy looking bar. Fancy a dip in the Rhine?
Reincarnation of the Falun Gong? I wasn't paying attention, but the gist of it was that they're protesting against the Communist Party. You won't see anything like this on the mainland. Macau has the same status as Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region or something like that), but I don't think they're as interested.
Some sort of herbal tea. Bee-eeh-eeh-ter. But supposedly good for health.
Porno mags?
Well well. Apparently they're legal here. Unless of course the insides are perfectly innocent- I wouldn't know, I didn't buy any.
And finally, dinner with the... um, grand-uncle? Uncle's uncle, anyway. Apparently it's tradition here to order pork when you have a guest- even if you don't like pork.
31 July 2010:
Farewell to my faithful Octopussy. You've served me well, you little piece of four-sided plastic. You were pretty pricey to get around with though, and didn't offer me a tourist discount. For that I won't miss you one bit.
Huggy Bear
Oh my. The lengths some people will go to for a simple hug from a complete stranger. Look, he's so nervous he's not even hugging her back. Tsk. Credit to him for not feeling her up though. I refuse to speculate as to what the guy on the left, wearing a black Adidas shirt, was staring at. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no...
To the point.
A simple Western breakfast. Food here's pricey, in case I haven't mentioned it yet. Oh I have? A million times already? My bad.
Group shot.
A final (The only one, really) group photo before heading out to the main island for lunch.
Inside the restaurant. It's huge.
At a Dim Sum restaurant. It's best to come with a reservation- if not you have to take a number and wait. Having Dim Sum in the morning is part of a process called yamcha- literally, drinking tea. Back home we use it for any occasion where we go out with friends or family to fill our stomachs with something while chatting away or silently staring at each others plates, but here in Hong Kong yamcha applies only to Dim Sum and breakfast. I had a pretty hard time wrapping my head around it.
Some fried stuff.
Some Dim Sum. There was definitely more variety to be had here. However I still prefer the Dim Sum back home- maybe for the down to earth feel to it (Never mind the prices), the stronger taste, or the easy availability of Garlic Chili Sauce. Oh well.
Dumpling Soup
Dim Sum being Dim Sum food is ordered whenever the cart comes around, so after this shot I just gave up and ate. This one's another that I've never seen back home- dumpling soup, if I remember correctly.

And there we have it. Back to Park Island for a short rest, and from there, a bus to the airport. I anticipated a bit of trouble with the 'only one piece of hand luggage' ruling, but decided to play dumb and just winged my way through- the two charming ladies guarding the exit point to the waiting area discussed amongst themselves for a bit, looking at my stuff- one large rucksack, filled to the brim; one manbag, close to spilling point; and one large cardboard box in a plastic bag- that being my MG Strike Noir (i.e. bloody big) which I'd bought at the convention the day before.

In the end, however, I charmed their socks off with a sweet, innocent smile, plus claiming the box was 'very light, just a bit of plastic in it', and after seven hours or so, I was back home, and this post and all those before it waited an entire year to be completed, due in part to a virus destroying my previous site (,general laziness, and having to complete the final year of my degree. And that's the end of it.

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