My uncle Frank was completely correct... Hong Kong is a sea of
humanity! Over 6.8 million people live in an area that covers 1,100
square kilometers (approx. 400 square miles) of which a large portion
is mountainous and uninhabitated. We are clearly the minority here
which allows one to gain a new perspective of our place in the world,
and contrary to what many in North America believe, we are not number
Hong Kong truly is an international city that boasts top notch
transit, especially the MTR, or subway system, that easily puts
Toronto's attempts at mass transit to shame. The trains are always on
time, with large electronic signage and announcements in English and
Cantonese indicating when the next train will arrive. The "No eating
and drinking" policy on trains and paid fare areas results in spotless
stations and the turnstyles/escalators/etc that can be run in both
directions depending on the time of day keep the masses moving
smoothly. For all those people who believe that the TTC is "the best
way", you ain't seen nothing yet.
Thanks to our friend Iris for recommending the Wang Fat Hostel on
Paterson Street as a place to stay here in Hong Kong. Although her
brother was right, that the rooms are not like the photos on the
internet (they are really small), they are clean, comfortable and
relatively quiet and at $350HKD per night are a good deal in a superb
location. However, since it never gets really cold here, there is no
heat or insulation and it can get rather cool, although certainly not
Friday evening was spent walking around the Causeway Bay area and
taking it all in. We had to go and buy a jacket for Jessica and a
light sweater for me as we forgot our sweaters at my dad's in
Kamphaeng Phet when we were there. We enjoyed some food and went to
bed relatively early, weary from our travels.
On Saturday we walked to Victoria Park; a large arboretum situated in
the middle of the city and enjoyed a walk-about and observed crews
setting up a HUGE area for the Lunar New Year's celebrations which
take place this weekend (New Year's eve being Jan28 with the New Year
starting on Jan29). Afterwards we went back to walking the streets
and thanks to Jessica's love of noodles we went to the "Traditional
Noodle House" for some food. Once inside we were seated at a table
with another lady, named Sherry, who spoke English and we got to
chatting. Her husband Phillip, who went to school at MacMaster in
Hamilton, arrived shortly later and we hit it off. She ensured that
we didn't end up eating anything that we wouldn't like and afterwards
we went for coffee together.
Phillip had a previous engagement so she took us to the bus stop where
we left her and Jessica and I went to Stanley Market which is on the
south side of the island. Things were definitely overpriced but we
managed to get some good deals on some small gifts and Jessica found
herself a wonderful necklace.
In the evening we rode the Star Ferry to Kowlooon and went to a night
market on Temple Street before riding the MTR back to Causeway Bay.
We would definitely recommend the ferry ($2.20HKD each, one way) as it
gave us a great opportunity to see the city's skyline with all the
buildings lit up on both sides of the bay.
Yesterday (Sunday), we slept in and had a lazy morning and drank
coffee at, get ready for it, Starbucks... something I would rarely do
even at home. We then went for more noodles at the same restaurant
before taking the MTR to Wong Tai Sin Temple where many were
celebrating and preparing for the new year by making offerings of
whole chickens and ducks, fruits, cakes and other cuts of meat. This
was combined with the burning of incense like we have never seen
before that filled the air so thick with smoke that one could hardly
breathe. We managed to get some great photos (yes, they will be
posted shortly... we know that you're all eagerly waiting for them)
and made wishes by tossing coins into the Wishing Garden which was
comprised of a fountain of lotus flowers (I got my wish much to the
amusement of the locals; Jessica didn't).
Afterwards we took the MTR to Lai King and went for a quick walk
through Modern Terminal's container port. We didn't get a chance to
see Hong Kong International Terminals until we were taking the MTR
back to Central station and could see the terminal out the windows of
the train. The port is absolutely insane. It was somewhat surreal to
see all the crap that the world, and North America in particular,
consumes all boxed up in containers, stacked 10-12 containers high and
hundreds long, ready to be sent around the world. Certainly it
emphasized in our minds that we consume WAY too much in North America
and there were easily millions of 45' containers on the docks.
For dinner we met Sherry and Phil and went out for Chinese Hot Pot
which comprises a, you guessed it, hot pot! It is somewhat like a
fondue whereby the hot pot is filled with a soup broth and you order
different meats, fish, veggies and more to cook in the boiling water.
The food and conversation was great although local establishments seem
infatuated with blowing A/C at maximum despite it being winter here
with the outside temperature being in the low teens. Most patrons of
the restaurant were wearing their winter coats for the whole meal.
We went out for coffee and desserts afterwards and then parted ways,
promising to give them a shout next time either of us are in the
This morning (Monday) we got up early and rode the MTR around for a
while to experience the morning rush hour... it was insane!
Unfortunatley during our visit we didn't get a chance to see the Peak
but there will certainly be a next time for that.
Our flight home is at 16:25 today and we are looking forward to coming
home and sharing photos and stories, although both of us are not to
excited about returning to work.
We sure hope that Scott is at the airport when we arrive.