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Archive for March 8th, 2010

Even though we had visited several big cities along the way, I was a little intimidated to arrive in Hong Kong. It was the first country where neither Kelly nor I spoke the language and I was worried we might have trouble making our way around the city if we couldn’t understand anyone or read any signs.

My fears were put to rest as soon as we stepped off the plane…everything in Hong Kong is in Cantonese AND English. Not only that, but the public transportation here is amazingly efficient. The subway system (called the MTR) is spotlessly clean with trains arriving every couple of minutes, travelling to just about everywhere in the city. There are electronic signs in the subway cars that not only tell you the upcoming stop in two languages, but which side of the train you need to exit. To make things even more convenient, you pay for your MTR or ferry ride with an ‘Octopus Card’, a re-chargeable credit card that can also be used at convenience stores and fast food restaurants all over town. Wanna take a taxi? A ride all the way from the central part of the island across the harbour to Kowloon is around $10.

Kelly and I stayed in the cheap shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui (TST)  in a huge building called Chungking Mansions. There are a ton of Indian dudes standing around out front trying to sell you a bunch of crap. Kelly and I played a game to see how many times in a day we were were asked if we wanted a ‘copy watch, copy handbag, or tailor-suit’. Twenty-seven was the big winner. The sixteen story building itself was a little ghetto and scary, but our guesthouse was nice and the rooms were clean.

Our first couple of days we spent wandering around TST and Mong Kok, another bargain shopping area. The amount of shopping malls and high fashion brand name stores here is mind-blowing. Gucci, Prada, Dolce and Gabana, Burberry…it’s a shopoholic’s paradise. Fortunately, Kelly and I don’t really care much about brand names OR shopping because we would have blown our whole load in Hong Kong.

We spent some time taking in the city views along the harbor, visiting the flower, bird, and fish markets, walking down the ‘Avenue of Stars’ and I bought at $5 watch at the Temple Street night market. Since Chinese New Year was a few days away, the entire city was adorned with red and gold lanterns, lights, and decorations, which really created a festive atmosphere. Kelly and I were also delighted to discover that there are information signs on every other corner pointing to areas of interest around the city. It is so easy to get around here, even with my horrible sense of direction. I love Hong Kong!

View of Hong Kong Island skyline from Kowloon

Cages at the bird market

Flower Market

Chinese New Year Decorations

Our first weekend in town, we met up with June, an old friend from Texas that moved to Shanghai six years ago. When she heard Kelly and I were going to be in Hong Kong, she took a flight down for a couple of days to see us and celebrate her birthday. She and her fiancee, Alex, took us to an insane seafood restaurant for dinner and then out to the Soho district for chocolate strawberry daiquiris at The Feather Boa Bar.

 

The girls at dinner

Kelly and Alex at Feather Boa

We did notice something strange about this part of the city though….there were no Asians anywhere. Everyone was white! Apparently there is a huge expatriate community here due to the fact that Hong Kong is a major financial and business hub…tons of of Europeans and Americans move here for work.

 We had a fantastic time hanging out with June and Alex over the course of the weekend and celebrated June’s birthday at a delicious Italian restaurant before she headed back to Shanghai. Hopefully we’ll see them back in Texas in the near future.

Happy Birthday June!

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