International

Day 2: Hong Kong

Today I woke up well rested after a long day traveling. Extreme time changes seem to be unpredictable for me. Moving the clock forward 16 hours has it’s effect on me, but in general, the process has been much smoother than I had expected. Now that I’m here I really have no idea what I’d like to see. Being so far from home and in a very foreign culture the world seemed a bit more intimidating now that I am here. Hong Kong is my oyster!
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And it was nice to see a little bit of home!
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And a little more of home: (it was suprising how much US marketing was found here)
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One of Apple’s flagship stores was near Wan Chai:
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I met Bill, a flight attendant with United, the night before.
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He was here for a day before having to fly back to the United States. We decided that pairing up would be much more interesting than exploring the city alone. He had been here a few times before so I was happy to defer to his knowledge of the island. All that I really remember from the last night is that he was at the Renascence Hotel near Wan Chi. I had a bit of a similar adventure getting to his hotel as I did mine. All I really knew is that it was near the water. After a bit of walking around I surprisingly found it! I don’t have a data plan here so I have to use maps the old fashioned way.

Bill suggested we go see the Stanley Market. It is a large market over on the other side of the island. We found the right bus to take out to the island after a few missteps.
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The market had vendors selling all sorts of things: food, hand warmers, clothing, wood figurines to the mostly tourists but there seemed to be some locals in the mix.
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We walked out to see Stanley Bay.
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There were a number of boats in the inner harbor:
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What surprised me however, is the amount of shipping traffic further out. My brother in law who works in shipping containers would have loved the view.

We found a local restaurant that had very little English on the menu or in the general atmosphere. I find that these types of places give you the most authentic experience. Yellow curry was the only thing I recognized on the menu so I went with it. What was awesome is that they actually included pineapple in the curry! The sweet and spice was a very excellent mix.  Afterwards we wandered down to the temple to take a look inside. The ornate artistry of the Asian cultures so different than back here in the states. The rich and vibrant use of color is something I enjoy about Asian art.

We walked through one of the local parks exploring the beach, the mountain tops, and everything in between. I stumbled upon this iron work that looked really cool. It was non traditional Asian art which made it somehow unique.
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We found a temple that had very interesting art inside of it. Most of it was very traditional pieces.
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The use of bright colors is something I do love about Asian art.
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Plant life is often manicured as well. You can see the clear attention to detail in the plants in this area.
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Incense was also always in the background.
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Litter laws are a big deal here. One side effect of that is the city was very clean compared to its counterparts in the US.
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And a little bit more of home…
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We got lucky on our return seats on the bus. We were first in line! We rode in the upstairs of the bus in the front seats so we had a great view on the ride back. What I didn’t realize is how narrow these roads were and how much the top of that bus swayed.
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It was a tight mountain pass crossing and the roads here are about 30% narrower edge to edge than their counterparts back in California. The bus was probably traveling about 30 miles an hour and seemed like we were going to run into all the traffic heading the opposite direction. The good news, thankfully, is that we didn’t. However, the Chinese don’t need to do shrubbery maintenance as the bus slams into all the tree branches and knocks them down so the road remains clear. Think of it like snowplows for greenery. The road had no room for error. It was a very sharp and direct fall down to the waters below. Part of me has to admit it was a little bit nervous more than once on the ride back.

Signage around the island was pretty good. I was glad I didn’t have a car, but I think I could have managed had I did.
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The skyline shows how dense the city really is.
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Once we got back to the depot we decided to head over to the market at Tsim Tsa Tsui. We took the ferry rather than the subway as many recommended it to see views of the harbor. The ferry was functional, but had no real creature comforts. The fare though reflected that.
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The late day sun made the city look great, but the smog was trying hard to obscure the view.
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Tsim Tsa Tsui has one of the larger shopping districts on Hong Kong Island. There were all the usual suspects you expect to find in a touristy shopping area: Coach, Fendi, Burberry, and Cartier: all of the major design labels marketing to women. And of course every 20 feet I was harassed by someone selling watches, suits, or handbags that were all cheap knock offs. There were also a number of camera shops in the area. There are a couple of lenses I was looking at so I was curious to price shop and see how the markets were here. The lens I chose to use as a guide was to 70 mm to 200 mm f2.8 mm lens. One had it for HK$12,000 and another had it for HK$10,000. What that translated to in United States dollars was about market for the lens. I didn’t pull the trigger but did some research on where to shop for photography gear in Hong Kong. The site targeted most of the shops saying they were scams and selling products that didn’t have international warranties.  It was likely that I wouldn’t get the product that I thought I bought and the service from the manufacturer that typically accompanies them. By dinner time we ran into a pizza shop that looked too good to pass up. Hawaiian was the closest actual pizza to Hong Kong, so I caved and got some comforts of home.
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A good friend of mine recommended the junk boat tours. I wasn’t able to get a ticket, but the boats themselves looked cool.
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The skyline at night was awesome.
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The last thing on the plan for the day was to see the light show over Victoria Harbor. Every night at 8 PM the city but it’s on a light show spanning the harbor. Some night and English other nights it’s in Chinese. I lucked out tonight it was in English. It was surprisingly cold as the wind was blowing pretty steadily in the temperature was only in the high 60s. I did capture my first video with my new camera. Enjoy:


Do make the video fullscreen and in HD. (options are in the lower right).

I’m noticing here that I tire out the evenings earlier. It was a pretty full day on covering a lot of territory but I think I’m still feeling the effects of jet lag. All in all a very good day too. I know I want to see Victoria Peak, but I’m not sure what else is in store for day three.

Route:

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