Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hong Kong

It's probably a good thing that we went straight from Tokyo to Hong Kong, because we were able to get used the the crushing crowds at practically every hour of the day. Tokyo's way of dealing with so many people in such a small space was to build the most amazing and extensive Metro system we'd ever seen. And of course it's Tokyo, so you've got very clean and heated seats to make your commute that much more pleasant.

In Hong Kong, their solution is to build elaborate walkways above the actual streets, and also to create barricades along most streets to make walking more cumbersome, but the chances of getting creamed by the non-stop traffic less likely. Oh, and you usually have to walk through at least two malls to get anywhere you need to go. Perhaps this would have been a relief in summer, but it seemed more like a depressing form of run-away commercialism at the time. However, we did enjoy the escalator--literally a series of escalators lined with shops and restaurants that takes commuters to/from their tiny and expensive apartments in the mid-level hills to downtown. We walked up the steep streets and took the escalator, so can objectively say it's much more pleasant to take an escalator!

Besides being jam-packed with people, Hong Kong also has a lot of sights to see. Our five days here were pretty non-stop, with visits to the markets of Kowloon, the madness of downtown Hong Kong Island, the many international choices of restaurants in the mid-levels, the parks, and the peak, which of course you access by taking a tram that ends at a mall. We also made it out to one of the outlying islands to get in some hiking, viewing of the recently-constructed giant Buddha, and eating at the Buddhist monastery. And even though the city can be really expensive, we still found some free stuff to do like a one hour t'ai chi class on Hong Kong harbor to the soundtrack of 'Once upon a Time in China.' I'd like to think Bruce Lee and Jet Li would be proud...

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