Sunday, December 5, 2010

Random thoughts about my visit to Hong Kong

We went to Hong Kong a few weeks ago for the Eid Holiday. This was our first time there and I can say we all really enjoyed it. Since I have the number 30 on my mind as the “write 30 random things about yourself” note is going around Facebook, I’ll write 30 not so random things about my trip to Hong Kong.

1. We stayed at a friend’s home in an area called Stanley, which I guess kind of equates to a suburb because it was outside of the city. But it didn’t have typical suburbia feel because it was sitting on a hill overlooking a bay. It reminded my husband of Sausalito.

2. It was a crowded, happening city. But honestly, it did not feel that densely crowded to me. Maybe Istanbul conditioned me for this, but it felt very comfortable.

3. It was so clean. One of the cleanest cities I have ever been to. Every city has their not so clean spaces, but even the average establishment had a very clean bathroom. – Potty training a toddler, I can appreciate this.

4. Hong Kong seems like a great place for shopping. I do not really like to shop, and do not know how prices for things compare to other places, but there were shops of all kinds. The line waiting to get in the Chanel store must have meant something!

5. The few times I needed a coffee I had to choose Starbucks. Much to my surprise, it was the only place that had soymilk! Now, I do not seek out chain places when I travel, but Starbucks is everywhere and when a girl needs some coffee, she needs some coffee. I tried to give my business to the other places first, but in the end it was the place with soymilk that won.

6. Every day I would see at least two or three photo shoots going on in the city. It was beautiful weather. They were either fashion shoots or wedding pictures.

7. I found everyone to be attractive and well dressed. I love cities in Asia because you often see a little quirkiness too. Especially with the young girls, I desperately wanted to take pictures of them all. They were cool.

8. In one of the larger train stations there was a shop that only sold combs. They seemed to be of high quality and were displayed very carefully. It all seemed very upscale. Combing my hair has never crossed my mind while on a train.

9. Because of jet lag, we started the days later so walked the streets late at night. This was a lot of fun and a great way to explore the city.

10. We went up to the Peak one night to see the city at night. It is beautiful, but do not wait around for the light show unless there is a huge event going on. There was only really one building that seemed to participate the night we went up.

11. The weather was always pretty hazy.

12. Taking the Star Ferry and looking at the view of the city from the water was pretty spectacular and surreal all at the same time. It has been a scene in so many movies you can’t help but feel like something serious was about to go down.

13. My son is blonde and blue eyed. That was a novelty for many people. Some people would take his picture. When they asked, I asked him. He said no which was fine by me.

14. We ate at a Chinese restaurant that is geared toward Chinese tourists. It was nice, and all the people there were nice. I do not know if it was just this particular group of tourists that happened to be there when we were, but they were so loud. I am usually not easily disturbed by others around me.

15. We went to Hong Kong Disneyland. It was a very manageable size as it is much smaller than any other Disney park. We appreciated this and it was the perfect size to get most of the things done that our son could enjoy in about 7 or 8 hours.

16. The train on the way to Disney was all Mickey themed. I am sure they have this at other Disney theme parks, but I really liked it. The windows were shaped like Mickey as well as the rings to hold.

17. The “street snacks” at Disney included dried squid and fish balls. My husband tried them and did not find them very good… and he eats pretty much anything compared to me, so it had to be bad for him to say that. We didn’t eat a whole lot there.

18. My son’s favorite ride was the teacups – why does this not surprise me.

19. There was a dead mouse on the electric car track at Disneyland. I don’t think it was Mickey.

20. I learned on this trip that I do not really like Chinese food as much as I thought I did. I ate 5-star food as well as regular cheap food. I do love other Asian foods. Perhaps I just need to try some more.

21. The chicken tasted very different than what I am used to. Perhaps it is not as hormoned up as what is sold elsewhere.

22. I was very proud of my son, who is two years old, who was so well behaved at Man Wah, the Chinese restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

23. I learned that you should not drop a ball into that conical exhibit thing at the space museum if you need to pee. If you are with your young child, you will have to wait until that ball falls into the hole. It takes way too long.

24. It’s true. There are not a lot of old structures left in Hong Kong as everything is built over with modern skyscrapers. I was pleased to find an old firehouse, although now an expensive store, with an old fire truck on display.

25. I drank bamboo juice on the street. I liked it.

26. The only place to get anything hot to drink in one of the parks we visited was Starbucks – not good! No Chinese tea?

27. My husband lost the key to our friend’s house one night, so we got to experience a city hotel for one night.

28. It was pretty warm outside – maybe 25C / 80F. People were wearing boots and winter coats!

29. We went to the Chinese market one day. I love markets, but they have kind of lost their novelty for me. I think this is because everything everywhere is now made in China. The originality is gone.

30. I love that you can check in, and even check your bags in at the central train station. You can enjoy a hassle free ride out of the city.

...and I must leave you with one additional one that I can't resist...

31. The day I came home, I read a letter to the newspaper where someone was begging the government to not call such a long holiday! It had something to do with the banks being closed.

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