Thursday, October 12, 2006

More On Hong Kong

I've already had my word to say on Hong Kong, both the central island of Hong Kong, and the hipper Kowloon. While I visited very briefly before, this time I was around for a week. I was there to meet friends from California, one of whom was born & raised in Hong Kong. I learned a little more, saw a few new things, and here are a few pictures.

First, I didn't mention in my last postings about the Peak. All the Hong Kong gangster movies have some point where the gangsters meet up on remote hills overlooking the city to discuss something nefarious. I went up to the Peak to have a look, twice on the same day: I sort of wandered up the mid-level escalators and then hiked there the first time, and then that night I took a train. Either at night or day, it's very beautiful.

My parents had been to Hong Kong briefly, about five years before, and had commented that it reminded them of Honolulu. Other people have told me that's balderdash, but certain parts of Hong Kong definitely felt like Honolulu to me, with the semi-tropical climate, and the hills balancing themself off against high-rises. That was especially true in Aberdeen, which wasn't quite as built up as the central districts of Hong Kong. There was a whole lot of boats, it gave the impression of being a small fishing village long since overrun by an expanding Hong Kong.

On the back side of Hong Kong Island is a series of beaches that almost feel remote. The beaches themselves aren't all that much, but with the dramatic cliffs and mountains leading ride up to the oceanside, many of them are beautiful. I stopped at Stanley, which had a lot of charm despite being overwhelmed by tourists, and in the middle of a construction project that blocked off direct ocean views for much of the area.

There's a few other things I want to mention. First, Hong Kong people seem to be way superstitious and religious compared to Shanghai people. Most interesting to me was, buildings didn't have floors that ended in 4, which sounds like "death" in Chinese. So, no 14th floor, 24th floor, etc., although there are 43rd floors. Also, there were little shrines everywhere, such as this one, by the side of an alleyway:

I wasn't quite as impressed with the food in Hong Kong this time: some of the food I had was truly delicious, but it was really hit and miss, even between dishes in indivisual restaurants. I ended up eating plenty dim sum: while you can find the elements of a dim sum meal in Shanghai, recognizable dim sum restaurants are rare here. In Hong Kong there were a bunch of them. Very delicious, although these meals went on for hours, almost beating the record 4-hour lunch I once had in France. They were similar in food and style to what I got in downtown Oakland:

On transportation: huh. It's doubtlessly better than Shanghai's, and I was particularly impressed with the 45 minute train between Kowloon and Shenzhen (it's much cheaper to fly from Shanghai to nearby Shenzhen). But Hong Kong's terrain is more irregular and crowded than Shanghai, so at times getting about took much longer than I felt it should take. Of note, there's a bunch of double-decker trolleys, they only cost a quarter and are pretty convenient along Hong Kong island's downtown. There's also double-decker busses, during rush hour they are packed solid:

There's ferrys between the islands, that have essentially been replaced by subways connecting Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. The ferry building is getting replaced, and the ferry service downgraded. While it was a short trip, the water was surprisingly rough.

Overall I was not as impressed with Hong Kong as I was the previous time, mostly because I feel it lacks any scene, or things to do besides shop and get drunk - and I didn't do either. I'll have more to say later about the nearby state of Macau - where I didn't go gambling!

No comments: