• Spring Festival Vacation: Hong Kong (Jan 31 – Feb 3)

    by  • February 29, 2008 • China • 2 Comments

    An Olympics display featuring one of the Olympics mascots, JingJing, with a pistol. Awww yeah. Nobody tells you that you are going to have to walk to Hong Kong. When we got to the Shenzhen train station, I kept wondering, “where’s the train to Hong Kong?” Because, you know, this is a train station, and I know from maps that we’re really close to Hong Kong, so I just figured. After walking past sign after sign reading “To Hong Kong –>” and finally being shunted into several different lines in which people took and stamped my passport, I became aware that there was no train “to” Hong Kong, because we were already there.

    A view of Hong Kong Island from Kowloon, where we stayed in the Tsim Sha Tsui district.

    Despite the fact that Hong Kong has been under Chinese rule since 1997, the “One Country, Two Systems” policy is more like “Pretty Much Two Countries” in practice. Hong Kong is like China, but without all Chinese stuff you get used to on the mainland. The spoken and written languages are different (Cantonese and traditional characters, as opposed to Mandarin and simplified on the mainland), there’s English — mostly sensible English — everywhere, newspapers can print whatever they want, and some of the coins have pictures of the Queen on them.

    A great storefront ad. I’m guessing “Clarks Hair Key’s” specializes in breeding amazing chickens.

    Oh, and, our first night in HK I did something I had been wanting to do for six months: eating a hamburger while drinking a real beer. (More about Chinese beer in a future dispatch.) We ate at a swank little place called Mes Amis in Kowloon, the ultra-touristy part of Hong Kong where we stayed, where I had a totally decent hamburger with a pint of Tetley’s (on tap). Heavenly. Then we went to Hong Kong’s “Avenue of the Stars,” which is kind of like the Hollywood walk of fame, only we didn’t know most of the actors. (We did see Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung’s stars, though, although we couldn’t remember which Tony Leung we like, because there are two of them.) We ended the evening with a completely awesome dessert at Haagen-Dazs, a kind of waffle cone full of strawberry cheesecake ice cream topped with real strawberries. Oh, man.

    Joel posing by the Tony Leung Chiu Wai star, which is the Tony Leung we like. The one who’s in the Wong Kar Wai movies and stuff.

    (I realize there’s a danger of this blog turning into “stuff Joel and Sarah have eaten,” but that would just reflect our priorities, I guess…)

    Sarah in the nicely appointed Wu Kong dim sum restaurant recommended by the Lonely Planet.

    The next day we went to the Hong Kong Art Museum, which was excellent (we even found a painting by Shaoxing’s famous and possibly insane artist Xu Wei and took in an OMNIMAX (Imax on the ceiling) film about Greece at HK’s Space Museum.

    After our sojourn in Hong Kong, we walked back to China (I mean, basically) where we spent the night in a really nice hostel in Shenzhen. Oh, I forgot to mention that hostels in Hong Kong are overpriced and in horrible giant buildings that are falling apart. Anyway, this hostel was great, and we spent the evening curled up with hot water bottles watching Chinese soap operas and eating chicken brain soup. (I missed the “brain” part when I asked what the soup was. Another reason to improve my Chinese vocabulary!)

    The next morning, we took the metro to a hotel where a bus picked us up en route to the airport, and we took off for Kuala Lumpur….



    Sarah grew up in Colorado but considers herself a Chinese-Malaysian-English-American. Her favorite thing to do is read in bed, or some sunny spot on a couch.

    2 Responses to Spring Festival Vacation: Hong Kong (Jan 31 – Feb 3)

    1. Foosh
      March 3, 2008 at 1:01 am

      I saw a movie about roller coasters at that very Omnimax and got very sick to my stomach.

    2. Anonymous
      March 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

      I did not…but I did stay (foosh did too) in one of those very run down hostels that smelled strongly of cat urine. You did well to avoid them!
      Love hearing about your travels…
      Mrs. Foosh:)

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