2009 Hong Kong
|2009 Hong Kong|
Hong Kong was an amazing experience. I was more concerned in getting sick during my brief stay, however (knock on wood) I was fine. I was a bit hesitant on devouring the street meat at Mong Kok. However after watching them trying out everything on the oily tray, I told myself "what the heck"...we may as well get sick together!
We stayed at Sohotel, a boutique hotel near all the Chinese medicinal shops in Sheung Wan, HK Island. Surprisingly, HK was very easy to navigate. Fortunately I was able impress them with my Cantonese. Well...impress is an overstatement...let's just say I know enough to get by with my westernized accent.
The flight to Hong Kong took almost the whole day with a quick connection at Incheon, where had a bit of a Korean Cultural experience with the hangboks! Upon arrival to Hong Kong, we were in awe by how clean and efficient the public infrastructure/transportation was. The trip to our hotel was quick as I glanced outside Hong Kong's scenic route, I uttered to myself "wow, I was born here."
After checking in, we passed through Central station and headed to Victoria Peak. To reach the peak, we took the train on a steep ascent. I couldn't believe how the humongous buildings were built on top of the mountains and hills. Once we got to the top of the peak, we were able to catch a glimpse of HK's cityscape. Luckily we were there just right before dawn. When the lights go on, and it was just a serene and beautiful moment with the buildings communicating to each other with different lighting and the skyline serving as a backdrop. After the peak, we satisfied our tummies with congee, wonton noodles and of course roast pork/duck and chicken; some of HK's delicacies.
We also made a trip to Lantau island to check out the Great Buddha, Po Lin Monastery and the wisdom path. For an extra fee, we opted for the transparent floor of the skytram. Just imagine being in the moving skydeck at the Willis tower. Again, the 30 minute long sky tram gave us a gorgeous view of HK. Some may say it was unfortunate that it rained and fogged a bit upon arrival. However, the fog definitely added a touch of mystique. I didn't mind it at all. The place was very spiritual as I wished and blessed my parents with good health and happiness.
Asides from the most important attractions of HK listed above, we also partied hard at Lan Kway Fon and the never-ending escalator at the Soho District. Wow. That place was total badass, where it seemed like all the expatriates are concentrated in this clusterfuck of sports bars, lounges and karaoke. Furthermore we also checked out the water-view of Tsim Sa Tsui. It was nice to check this view day and nite as well as taking the Star Ferry. Somehow, Hong Kong people like to celebrate their holidays early. Xmas decorations were already on full-on display! In addition, HK is gearing up with the Asia Games held in December and much enthusiasm were exhibited with countless display of colorful floats and advertisements...literally everywhere! Moreover, we satisfied our tummies with countless egg tarts and a 24 hour dim sum place near the Horse Raceway.
Just when we thought we were totally buddha-ed out, we made a trip to the Wong Tai Sin temple. The place was insane! We did our usual routine with regards to the incense as well picking out the "stick fortune". I refrained from knowing about my future, because whatever happens..happens and there's no point in changing fate. Although the rest of my crew beg to differ. Ok I digress. We also made a quick excursion to Kowloon park and couldn't believe how dilapidated the buildings were as myriad of clothes were hung out to dry on the humid air and the sound of mah-jongg echoed in the little mom & pop shops and restaurants. Lastly, the ladies did a bit of damage on the markets of Mong Kok and Times Square. I really tried my best to bargain, but I guess the fact that they knew that I wasn't a local, I wasn't able to get any deals. Anyway, Mong Kok was dirtier compared to the rest, but there's definitely a local charm.
Hong Kong definitely has its own rustic and city character. It is really is a city like no other. I'll be honest it was a bit emotional just trying to live vicariously through my parents' life and times at Kowloon. I just couldn't fathom the conditions they were living in and how much the city has changed (judging from the stories my parents have told me of course). It really made me realized how much my parents sacrificed coming into this country with little certainty and hoping for the best in the future. I'm forever indebted to them.