Thursday, December 6, 2007
Experiencing Hong Kong
The fact that I've been lax with the blogging and the journal writing is evidence that we are having a grand old time in Hong Kong. For the past few days we've been doing some administrative stuff, like applying for visas to go to China and Vietnam (although at this pace we may never leave!) However, Hong Kong has NOT been all work, no sir! We've done some of the tourist things in classic "BG & Val" way, like visiting Victoria Peak. Most people take the tram line up to the top, like normal people. Not us. We walked most of the way up, thinking it was going to be good "exercise", which it would have been, if not for the constant backtracking and standing around scrutinizing our map due to being endlessly lost. One would think it's hard to get lost climbing to the top of a hill, as all you do is point yourself in the direction that's hardest to go, but we managed to do it.
The view from the top was lovely, looking down onto Hong Kong Harbour and the rest of the city. Pity about the smog. We'd been warned that Victoria Peak was really "touristy", but were still somehow unprepared for the hawkers, souvenirs, and ultra-luxury mall with associated and equally luxurious coffee shops and restaurants. Of course we took advantage of the luxury coffee shops and restaurants and spent a lovely afternoon at the Peak.
Our feet have been aching from all of the walking we've done over the past eight weeks, so we treated ourselves one night to authentic Chinese acupressure foot massages -- painful, yet hilarious experiences. BG finished his off with a session of "cupping", hence the back.
Recently we tackled a bus tour of the New Territories of Hong Kong, which are the suburbs. What were we thinking? Let's take a bus tour of the suburbs, that should be fun. In retrospect, this is akin to a tourist to Toronto taking a bus tour to Mississauga, Pickering, and Oshawa. We saw a Buddhist monastery, which actually was interesting, but only served to confuse me further about Buddhism. This place was like the exact opposite of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery or temple -- where the Tibetan ones are chaotic, dark, and smell of yak butter, the one we saw was bright, clean, and completely empty. We also visited a lookout point where we could see the Chinese border city of Shenzhen (whee.), an ancient walled village that was more a senior citizens enclave than a living town, a wishing tree that is diseased and riddled with termites so it can't be approached, and as a grand finale, a jewellery factory where gold and diamond jewellery is made by hand.
Ok, so the last place was fun (Yay for diamonds!), but not so fun that we actually bought anything. (Boo for budgets.)
One thing that we have bought here in Hong Kong is a brand spankin' new laptop. I can't tell you anything about it except that it's here and I'm using it. BG gets mad, insane props for doing the research, the legwork, the decision making, and the purchasing -- and he in turn gives mad props to some local friends who helped him do the negotiations. This was a quest of epic proportions, as he bought from the Wan Chai computer mall, which is comprised of two floors of an office tower full of rows and rows of computer stores. He secretly loved it, though. I can tell. This should, in theory, help us keep our photos more organized and online more regularly, help us keep our (ahem) budget more organized and in check, and help us waste more time online than we were already doing.
Another Hong Kong Experience was a salon haircut for me. I was made an appointment with a man who was lauded as "The Best Stylist in Hong Kong", and I was treated to a decadent shampooing, a scaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalp massaaaaaaaaaaaaaage, and a really, really great cut. I no longer have an Asian mullet!
Our meals here have also been truly great. One night we had "clay pot" rice, where rice is boiled with some tasty (and truly scary) toppings in terra cotta pots, but that experience positively pales in comparison to the Chinese hot pot dinner that we shared with some new friends here -- two cauldrons of flavoured both in which you dump food of all species -- animal, vegetable, and more animal. The highlight of the evening for many of us was the consumption of chicken balls (and I really mean the balls.) Don't ask.
I'm sad today, though. My friend Ian is going back to Toronto today, and I've really loved hanging out with him. Hong Kong won't be the same without him. The next four days we plan on staying here seem to stretch before us now, even though I suspect we're now going to get more of the doing done and less of the lounging done.