Yesterday I got back from Hong Kong. My visa for China expires every 60 days, so I needed to get out of the country. Apparently Hong Kong is not considered part of China, so took a mini-vacation to the tropics.
On Sunday I flew on Hainan Airlines (our advertising firm does their design work!) to Shenzhen, China. Stepping off the plane I felt like I was in Hawaii. Lush, green mountains surrounded the airport, palm trees lined the highways and the muggy, humid air was a stark contrast from Beijing’s cold, dry air. My dad’s business partner Doris met me at the airport. After a quick lunch, we boarded the bus to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is only an hour bus ride form Shenzhen. We probably spent 20 minutes going through Customs, where we were asked health related questions. With H1N1, you cannot enter or exit a country if you exhibit any signs or symptoms of the virus. Likewise, while traveling I wore a face mask to prevent getting sick. Silly but worth it. To get to Hong Kong we crossed a very new and very large bridge. On the drive we passed numerous bridges, boats and tombs. In Hong Kong they cremate the dead and leave the ashes at elaborate tombs. Before we knew it, we arrived in Hong Kong. We walked a few blocks to our hotel, checked in and took a short nap before preparing for the night.
Around 5 pm, Doris and I met another one of my dad’s business partners, Ming Lou. Ming took us to a famous seafood market. Imagine Pike Place Market, but every vendor is a live seafood shop. Ming’s friend owns one of the seafood shops, so he let us take pictures holding the food. I couldn’t believe all the variety! They had fish, lobster, crabs, clams and even live squid. I’m not sure what the heck I’m holding, but it was some big, creepy crustacean thing. Yuck! The owner took a squid out of the tank. It made a hissing sound and he quickly tossed the squid back in the water. He was just in time, because as soon as the squid hit the water it shot out black ink. We also went out onto a dock behind the seafood shop. Looking out we saw numerous houses lining the water. Ming said these are traditional Hong Kong style homes. They have tin roofs, minimal windows or doors and some don’t even have bathrooms. Occupants without indoor plumbing use a community bathroom. It’s hard to imagine, but it just shows how you can live in moderation.
After we picked out our seafood, we went to a popular seafood restaurant. I don’t know if it was the cooking, the fresh food or a combination of both, but this was by far the best seafood I’ve eaten in my entire life. We started our meal with buttery, meaty jumbo shrimp. Mmmm… Our next dish was even better. We ate fried fish cooked with soy sauce. I couldn’t get enough of it! The fish was cooked to perfection. A dish like this would cost at least $50 in the US. We also ate crab, thousand year old eggs (they’re not really that old) and a tofu, seafood soup. Yeah, it sounds gross when I explain it, but you had to be there. Hao chi (delicious)! 好吃!
We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore. To give our stomachs a rest we decided to walk around the city. We went to a popular street market. They had everything from food, fortune tellers, local art, jewelry and knockoff designer goods. Next we went to a popular viewpoint that provides a great view of Victoria Harbor. To get there we had to drive through a massive tunnel. Hong Kong is made up of several small islands. The place we were going was on one of these islands. The tunnel we passed through took us right under the Pacific Ocean. What a weird feeling. The view of Victoria Harbor at night is breathtaking. We picked a great time to go. The bright city lights reflecting on the clouds made for great pictures.
On the drive to and from the viewpoint we passed massive and expensive homes. Some homes cost as much as 1 billion Hong Kong dollars! There is obviously a lot of money in Hong Kong. Just in the parking garage for the viewpoint we saw two Lamborghini’s, a Ferrari, a Bentley and two Rolls Royce! Hong Kong also has dealerships for all these cars. Ming said the price for a Lamborghini in Hong Kong is almost double the price of one in the U.S. Why? Well Hong Kong was established by the British, so in Hong Kong everyone drives on the left side of the road. This means for cars sold in Hong Kong (including luxury cars) the driver seat is on the right.
The next morning Doris and I woke up early to do some sightseeing. We went to a famous “Big Buddha” temple. On the drive to the temple we passed numerous white, sandy beaches. If I’d brought a swimsuit, I certainly would’ve preferred spending a day at the beach. However, I did not anticipate being anywhere warm, let along tropical, when I packed for China. Therefore, I left all swimsuits in the US. D’oh! Seeing the Buddha statue from afar, it looked big. Only when we were next to the statue did we realize it’s enormity. Just guessing, I would say the statue is at least 50 feet high. It’s massive! Surrounding the temple are mountains, trees and the Pacific Ocean. What a beautiful, and tranquil place for a temple. Doris and I decided to take a cable car down from the temple to see more sights. At first Doris didn’t want to take the cable car because she is afraid of heights. She thought the cable cars were open and was afraid of falling out. I explained that they are all enclosed and totally safe, so she agreed. I’m glad we took the cable car, because the view was unbelievable. Halfway through the day my D-60 battery died, so I had to rely on my Nikon CoolPix camera. Not bad, but not great. Whatever. At least I had a camera, right?
Doris and I also did a little shopping, but everything in Hong Kong is so expensive compared to Beijing. I got a few gifts for friends and family, and also a little something for myself. I got two pairs of leggings for 39 HKD each, or $5 each. Definitely worth it because I live in leggings. I also bought myself a gorgeous necklace with colored roses, chains, scissors and hearts. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s super rad. I’ve been looking for something similar for quite some time. I bought it at a little boutique that carries funky clothes and jewelry by Japanese designers. My favorite store was called BESS. It’s an American store . The owner originally designed jewelry for Ana Sui, Alexander McQueen and Dior, before expanding to create his own high-end jewelry line. Eventually he expanded to design clothes. I loved all the punk style clothes and jewelry at BESS. Unfortunately, the stuff is incredibly expensive. The necklace I liked retailed for $670 US dollars! They also had jeans for about $120, but they weren’t anything special. Ever since I found Levi’s and True Religions at a Tri-Cities consignment shop, I refuse to pay a lot of money for jeans. Did I mention I got my Levi’s and TR jeans for free? Yeah, I did. I just traded my old clothes for “new” ones. Talk about bargain shopping. What recession!?
After sightseeing and shopping all day, Doris and I caught the bus back to Hong Kong. Actually we took the subway to a bus station, then took a bus to Customs and then a cab to Shenzhen. We had one last delicious meal together in Shenzhen. For being two tiny ladies, we certainly put down the food. We devoured peanuts, seaweed, cold cucumbers, chicken, fish, soup, eggs and four bowls of rice. I guess all that traveling made us hungry! Considering how much I’ve eaten, I should be packing on the pounds. Much to my surprise, when I weighed myself at our hotel in Hong Kong I’ve lost almost 10 pounds since moving to China!! Is there a diet that involves no working out and all eating? I guess that’s what I’m on.
Well that about covers my trip to Hong Kong. Two days were certainly not enough to experience the city. I would love to go back for a week and just lay in the sun, shop at the markets and explore the historic sites.
I’m off for now. All my co-workers are chain smoking in the office and I have a massive headache. My lungs would be better off sucking on the exhaust pipe of a diesel truck. Maybe I should start wearing those silly face masks to work. Ha! Even though I miss the US I am so happy I will be staying in Asia until June. My time in China is flying by. Mom comes to visit in 11 days and I fly home for the holidays in 35 days. See everyone soon!