Friday, November 26, 2010

Hong Kong

Hong Kong was quick! I was only there for a grand total of 36 hours.
        We docked in Victoria Harbour. When I got off the ship with my friends, I brought my laptop to Skype home because we were told that there is free internet access in all government buildings (yess!). Anyway, my friends and I ran around trying to get their Japan Railpass situations worked out. Cousin Allie took care of mine at home (thanks, cuz!). The ship pulled up directly next to a mall, which was actually the port – we had to walk past all these big fancy stores like Chanel and Marc Jacobs just to get out onto the street. It was busy and there were cars and buildings everywhere. They drive on the left side of the road, like in England, India, South Africa, etc.. The weather was a beautiful 75 degrees and it felt great!
        We stopped at McDonalds for burgers to tie us over until lunch – it tastes exactly the same as it does in the US. Amazing. And even people who can’t understand any English can understand the word “ketchup.”
At around noon, we took the Star Ferry over to the Kowloon area (I think) and went on a mad hunt for dim-sum. We ended up finding some in a restaurant located within city-hall at around 2:00. I got separated from them, and figured I should stay where I was to avoid getting lost, so I sat down where I was standing on the stairs and pulled out my computer to start Skyping. They came down the stairs about 45 minutes later full and happy, saying that they though I’d gone to a different part of the restaurant to eat so I could have some privacy on the computer. Hmm…
        Anyway, I decided to wait there for my dad or Justin to get online. Everyone left to take the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak, which overlooks the city. At about 4:15, my computer had died and I gave up waiting on the return of my friends, and started to walk around outside. I ended up bumping into them, and we took the ferry back towards the ship. We found this tiny, hole-in-the-wall Chinese food place with noodles and orange chicken that had LOTS of bones in it, making it practically inedible. It was cool though to find a small local place and to be surrounded by local people rather than hoards of SAS students in a nicer resturant.
        Kelly, Eric and I parted from the group to run to the open market that sells electronics – we got there right after dark and MAN was it crazy. We took the subway there, which was extremely efficient, and emerged from the underground passageway onto a street full of stands boasting flashing neon lights, every type of cord or cable you’ve ever imagined, cell phones from as late as the 80’s.. everything electronic that has ever existed could be found in this market. We ran around for about 30 minutes until I found a 3 year old Canon point-and-shoot for only $65! We got lost heading back to the ship, but it was good to walk around the city at night. The streets were lined with flashing neon lights and signs. There were enormous GAP advertisements that said something about "mixing is better" and featured a white person and a Chinese person in every photograph. So bizarre. A lot of buildings were already lit up with Christmas decorations, too. Hong Kong has run into a situation where they only have a certain amount of space to build outwards, so they started building up. Their architecture was unlike any I'd ever seen before, and very futuristic.
        We ran into the other half of the group on the ship and ran in to change. There is an area of the Kowloon part of Hong Kong called Lan Kwai Fong (LKF).  Our taxi driver did not speak a lick of English, but saw how we were dressed and must have known where we were going. We split into two taxis, and at a red light, our driver jumped out and ran to the car behind us to ask for directions. Kelly, who was sitting next to me, shouted “Chinese firedrill!” and we burst into laughter for a good ten minutes.
We thought we were looking for a street when we were in the taxi, but man were we wrong. Once we turned the corner, parties ERUPTED in the streets. There were narrow intersections and taxis stacked down the street, SAS kids and locals running around with open containers in their hands. Everyone was dressed to kill. It was great! There was a stand on the sidewalk that reminded me of the Mexican food stands around LA, and they sold shots so we got a few. We found a bar that had free drinks for ladies, and hung around there for the rest of the night. It was such a good time to go out and dance with my friends after having been separated from them for most of the day. It really is so much easier with cell phones.

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