Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Arrival in Hong Kong

I arrived at my room at the Royal Garden in Kowloon about 8pm (8am in the U.S.). We were able to nab a direct flight from Detroit to Hong Kong without a layer over in Tokyo, which shortened the trip a lot. It had already been dark in Hong Kong for over an hour. A thick layer of smog covers all of Hong Kong, much of it coming from the factories in Southern China. The humidity is incredibly high. As soon you walk outside your clothes stick to you. A brief walk around Kowloon will make your shirt soaked with sweat.The hotel is beautiful; my room is spacious and well equipped. The employees of the hotel speak pretty good English, but along with their own accent they also speak English with a British accent, sometimes making it a bit hard to understand. Unlike China, the people in Hong Kong drive on the left side of the road. We had taken a taxi from the Kowloon train station to the Royal Garden and the driving reminded me of New York City, chaotic and kind of frightening. We walked along the Kowloon Peninsula, through the Hong Kong version of the walk of fame. Some notable things I spotted were Jackie Chan’s hand prints in the boardwalk and a statue of Bruce Lee. We took the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island. When you figure out the exchange rate the ferry only cost about 30 cents U.S. Hong Kong makes New York City look like Detroit. It’s a massive metropolis that is buzzing with activity. Even on a weeknight the streets are packed with people. The World Cup is taking place, and all of the bars in Hong Kong are packed with people watching soccer. There are people from all over the world, and bars from all over the world. We went into a Russian ice bar. They hand you fur coats to wear when you enter, and the walls are pure ice. Even the seats are blocks of ice. This is apparently the only good way to do shots of vodka. I didn’t take a coat and the extreme change in temperature made my skin steam into a cloud around my body. The city is very well kept. There’s little garbage and graffiti and little-to-no danger (at least in the areas I walked). Everything was beautiful, including the people. All of the people were beautiful, and wearing expensive designer clothes and were very accustom to a city life style. I never saw a single person overweight. There also aren't any homeless people, suprisingly. There are tons of places to shop, especially expensive designer stores like Armani and Louis Vuitton. I tried Tsingtao, a Chinese lager. It was pretty good. There are a lot of 7-11s in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island but the products are much different than the ones back home. I bought some snacks to take back to my room. Nothing too risky but definitely some interesting packaging. The prices are very high, it’s unusual seeing what appear to be American prices, but obviously they are HK $. For example, a sign in front of a Subway advertises that 6” subs are only $26 each. The people here love soccer. There’s World Cup ads and merchandise everywhere you look. It’s sad that you don’t see any of that in the U.S. There’s a popular advertisement here for a brand of water that makes fun of the U.S. I saw the billboards for it but confirmed what the joke was when I saw the commercial on tv in my room. It’s an anime style cartoon showing a bunch of (American) football players crashing through soccer players at the world cup, knocking them over and tackling them. Then it says “Wrong sport! Right water!”. Anyway, that’s all for tonight. I have to get up in a few hours.
Sorry for the crappy, blurry, unedited photos! I'll try to post better ones later.

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