Monday, December 26, 2011

Hong Kong Days 1 & 2

My tentative itinerary for this trip sort of fell flat on it's face...serves me right for trying to plan. I had planned to be in Hong Kong for 1 day then off to Zhongshan in Guangzhou to work for 2 days then to Macau for 2 days then back to Hong Kong for 1 more day then of to home....Now I will be in Hong Kong for a total of 4.5 days then Zhongshan for 1.5 day and then back to Hong Kong to catch a flight. We can't get out visas until the late afternoon of the 28th and the consulate has our passports so we are stuck in Hong Kong but as my dad point out there are worse places to be stuck in.

Dad and I spent yesterday, Christmas Day, on a bus tour of Hong Kong Island. I usually am not down for organized tours but I really enjoyed this one, it's like passive tourism. We didn't have to really do anything expect be led around and see the sights. The first stop was Man Mo Temple which is the oldest Taoist Temple in Hong Kong. It was neat to see but there is so much incense being burned that it stings the eyes, my sweater still smells like incense. We then went up to The Peak via The Peak Tram, our tour company has a special arrangement with the tram operator so we got to jump the line, the wait is like 45minutes otherwise. Once at the top there is a shopping center and an outdoor eating and shopping area but the real highlight is viewing Hong Kong & the Victoria Harbor, the view is incredible. We then went to the south side of the island and visited Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter which is home to the Aberdeen Fishing Village a traditional "village" of fisherman who live and work on their boats. o tour the "village" we took a sampan ride, the sampan was piloted by one of the fisherman. After that we went over to Stanley Market and got to walk around and do some shopping then we came back. I really enjoyed the bus, coach, ride over to the south of the really is beautiful and scenic once you escape the "concrete jungle." Our tour guide, Linus, was really good and I learned all kinds of stuff about Hong how superstitious the residents are and how seriously they adhere to the dictates of Feng Shui. After the tour we had Christmas dinner at the hotel, it was so good I gorged on sashimi and oysters. By the end of the day I was so exhausted I was asleep by 9 and I slept like a rock.

Communicating with the gods at Man Mo Temple
The Peak Tram (1st public transport in Hong Kong)

IFC 2 aka building Batman jumps off of

Merry Christmas from Hong Kong

Sampan Captain
Aberdeen Fishing Village
We played all day yesterday so today we did some work. I am editing the instruction manuals for new equipment so I worked in my room for several hours, after my morning coffee walk, working on that and my dad was in his room doing his stuff. I emerged at about 3:30 and headed out into the city. I jumped on the Star Ferry, the Wan Chai pier is right outside our hotel, and went across the harbor and found myself in the most dense crowd and crush of people I have ever seen. Seriously, worse than New York City at Christmas. The neighborhood is called Tsim Sha Tsui and is crazy busy. It is very touristy and reminded me in a lot of ways of New York, especially on the Canton Road with it's glitzy designer stores...Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, et al. Apparently people from all over Asia come out here to shop until they drop because not only does it have every imaginable designer there is no sales tax. I was actually caught in a human body traffic jam a couple of times I had to flee off the main roads so I ducked over to some of the side streets and wandered a bit until I found a McDonald's to go into for a respite. I just needed to sit down and regroup, look at my map and formulate a game plan.

Everybody cruises on The Star Ferry, Locals & Tourists alike

A Star Ferry on Victoria Harbor
 I decided to head up to Yau Ma Tei, the neighborhood next door to Tsim Sha Tsui so I decided to try out the MTR (subway). I got on at Tsim Sha Tsui and then got off two stops up at Yau Ma Tei. The Temple Street Night Market goes down here so I headed over to check it out. I was pretty early so the stalls were just being set up but the stuff on display was not that interesting so I wandered the streets of Yau Ma Tei, shopped around and stopped for some tea. I visited a traditional Chinese wedding stores which was so cool. There was this beautiful young woman having her traditional wedding dress fitted, all red and gold awesomeness. I also saw some seamstress working embroidery on dresses. I checked out some fabric stores and then walked all the way back to the Star Ferry Pier down the Nathan Road through Yau Ma Tei and Ysim Sha Tsui. Oh My God by the time I negotiated the mass crowds and got on the ferry I felt like I'd had a beat down. The Star Ferry back to the island at night was gorgeous and a sight to behold. My favorite thing to do when visiting a city is to find a neighborhood and meander about. I saw so many interesting people and things will wandering Kowloon and there was the added bonus of exercising off all the food and treats I've been allowing myself.

Local gents enjoying an afternoon of checkers & cigarettes in a Yau Ma Tei park away from their wives
Heritage 1881
Hong Kong Skyline at Night

Now I am going to get in bed, read and rest up for another day.



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