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Hong Kong Pictures Uploaded

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hknight.jpgAlmost two months to the day, I have finally uploaded the pictures that I took on Todd's and my trip to Hong Kong last December. Unlike my last trip to Vietnam where I hardly took any pictures in Saigon, I snapped pics like crazy in Hong Kong. I've now uploaded the best 35 pictures of both Hong Kong and Macau.

Kowloon

I started the morning feeling very ill and I ended up spending most of the day in bed. Luckily though, I recovered enough to join Todd for a sightseeing and shopping trip across the harbor to Kowloon tonight.

And what a perfect end to our time in Hong Kong it was! We took the ferry over, marveling at the Hong Kong skyline as we went. Then we visited the Peninsula Hotel and the incredibly fancy restaurant on the 28th floor. We were told that the bathrooms were a must-see and sure enough, we weren't disappointed. The highlight was that the urinals were facing a ceiling-to-floor window with a great view of Kowloon below.

We then headed to the Temple Street market for a little last-minute Christmas shopping. The market was similar to other street markets I have seen in Asia, except that this time the sales people were not too pushy. It was a nice change from the hassles you sometimes have to deal with in Thailand and Vietnam.

Around midnight the street vendors started packing up their goods, so Todd and I sat down at a sidewalk table and ate some of the best, cheapest dim sum I have ever had. Mmmmmmm!

Macau

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Looking for something a little different, Todd and I took a one-hour ferry ride over to the former Portuguese colony island of Macau. From the way Lonely Planet described the place, we were expecting a sleepy little village. But instead big skyline with a huge needle tower welcomed us.

The first hour of our time in Macau was less than exciting. We disembarked from the ferry and started walking. All that we could see were ugly dirty apartment buildings and hotels. We perservered, however, and things quickly improved.

Among the places we visited were St Michaels Cemetery and Chapel. The cemetery was small, but packed full of unique headstones and monuments from the past 200 years. The chapel was a small but beautiful lime-green building in the middle of the sloping cemetery. On advice from Lonely Planet, we took stairs up to the roof and saw something we have never seen before: there, out in the sun to dry, were 5 or 6 human remains. Next to one there was even a picture of the lady who I assumed used to inhabit the neatly laid out bones.

Next we visited fort built on top of a big hill in the middle of the island. Inside the fort was the Macau Museum, which was AMAZING. Todd and I were both shocked that it was so impressive. It was truely a world-class facility that everyone should see when they visit Macau.

After the museum we visited the ruins of St Peter's Church where just the elaborate facade remains. (It looks like they are rebuilding the rest of the church, though.) Then we walked through the old colonial part of town, where they have renovated all of the two hundred year old buildings and turned them into a pedestrian shopping mall. As much as I don't care for renovating old buildings just so they can house Starbucks, it was still a nice enjoyable walk.

On the way back, we slipped into the casino at the Hotel Lisbona and saw many gambling games that we have never seen before and have no idea how to play. In other words, if it wasn't for the slot machines by the door, I would have left with all my money. As it stands, I put HK$10 (US$2.25) into the machines with exactly a 0% return.

Shopping and Views

Perhaps the two things that are always associated with Hong Kong are shopping and skyline views. On our first full day in Hong Kong, Todd and I decided to check out both. First, to get our bearings, we went for a ride on the double-decker streetcar tram. Once we made our way to the front seats at the top level, we had a great view of the city streets. There is only one tram line, so after we rode to one end and then to the other end and back, we got off and headed to the shopping malls.

Times Square was our first stop. When Rupert was here a month or so ago, he bought a cool Motorola cell phone that is only available here but can be used all over the world (even in the US!) So I was determined to find it and try it out. Sure enough, after a little comparison shopping, I found the model I wanted at a decent price, and I bought it.

Next, we walked over to the Peak Tram and rode it to the top of the hills over looking the downtown area. The ride up wasn't all that exciting, but the views from the top were amazing. We had dinner at the small mall on the peak and then after the sun had set we admired the night time views.

First Impressions

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Todd and I arrived safely in Hong Kong this afternoon. We took the train to Hong Kong Island from the airport and then took a free shuttle to what was supposed to be our hotel. When we arrived, however, we found out that our on-line reservation hadn't gone through afterall. The hotel staff was nice and offered to help us find something else. After a a quick phone call they suggested that we go to the hotel down the street where they had a suite available for HK$2000 (US$250). We respectfully declined.

So we spent the next couple of hours walking around looking for places to stay. Most were booked, but we finally found a guesthouse that had a decent price and wasn't too scary.

After checking in we walked around town a bit, trying to get our bearings. Hong Kong isn't exactly what I expected. The only image I had in my head was of the spectacularly colorful skyline. So I expected Hong Kong to be new and shiny and modern and cosmopolitan. I also expected there to be a lot of British influence since it had been a colony for so long. Basically, I expected Hong Kong to be a lot like Singapore.

But it isn't at all. In fact, it reminds me more of San Francisco's ChinaTown than anything else. Ok, so maybe that statement is ridiculously obvious once spoken, but I was still surprised. The skyline is dramatic, for sure, but the street level is crowded and dusty with very few traces of colonial influence. There is very little written English and even less spoken. We haven't seen very many white faces here or found many restaurants with English menus.

But we are getting along fine and very much enjoying the scenery. Tomorrow we plan to hit the tourist points and do a little shopping. Then perhaps on Monday we will head to the island of Maccau. Should be fun...

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Hong Kong category.

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