Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thanks Hong Kong :D ! Part 2

Okay, I have notes from our trip because I'm lame and always take notes wherever I am in case it can make good writing later (I told you I'm lame) but some of the days kind of blur into one another. I'm gonna do my best to remember each day as accurately as possible but I may mix up certain meals and events because we did a lot in ten days and well, I was out of my mind tired with jet-lag and diseased more than half the time.

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, breakfast. After breakfast I went to lay down a but because I was still kind of sickly and early enough in the day that I didn't feel the need to start conquering China like my Energizer bunny boyfriend. Apparently on his lone exploration he stumbled on a music video shoot for a pretty big star. The back-up dancers were wearing shiny big pants and there was a pink Chinese dragon.

We met up for lunch and ventured around the hotel. The Luxe Manor is right off of Nathan Road, a sort of Newbury St./Istiklal Caddesi for the Kowloon side, so right out the door we were smacked with food stalls, stores, massage places, and Indian men hell-bent on selling us, "Copy watches sir? Copy purses madam?" They didn't even bother pretending their articles were genuine! Throughout the next ten days, Elliot would get approached more often than I did, weirdly enough, because along with fake watches and bags, they were hawking tailor services. "Tailor suit sir?" This question was often delivered in a low, machine-gun fire rhythm that had us staring uncomprehendingly at them for a second before realizing that no, we did not want a suit. After a while we started snickering to ourselves because the thought of toying with them was kind of irresistible. Like, seriously what would they have done had we stopped dead in our tracks, opened our mouths wide and just went, "REALLY?! YOU HAVE COPY WATCHES?! WHY, SHOW ME, MY GOOD MAN, SHOW ME!," What would they do? And on a related note, have they really attracted anyone with that sales pitch? Hong Kong is so cheap, you can get the original at probably a very reasonable price. And people do judging by the mansion-like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach, and various other stores on every block. I'm not exaggerating. Hong Kong is the city of labels. Every woman, and I mean every, single woman and most men had the LV monogrammed bag and each store was at least two stories tall or more. Not to mention, the giant malls everywhere. I kind of regret not going into to one to compare prices actually because again, Hong Kong is cheap. I will refer back to this several times.

Anyway, we found a nice little restaurant not far from our hotel, though not on our street. I don't know why but I guess the street we stayed on was wedding dress central. Every other store was a bridal shop. And some of the dresses, whoooo-eeeee. I wouldn't be caught dead in them as a joke on Halloween. The first place we chose to eat at in Hong Kong, the center of quality Asian cuisine, was a Japanese place. Another thing that will get reiterated a lot; the comparison between China/Hong Kong and Japan and the fact that we ended up at Japanese places more often than you'd think in a world food capital. I guess we couldn't quite shake off our first big vacation together. Elliot had some udon in black sesame broth and I had my trusty katsu with curry and rice. We decided to head back to the hotel for a quick nap (Elliot still hadn't slept unless you count the couple hours on the plane and I was still sickly feeling and hadn't gotten any more rest that morning. I accidentally spent it watching The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network Asia. I don't know what it is about travel but it always makes me watch cartoons. My sister too, every time we've been in India we've ended up falling asleep to Dexter's Laboratory and various other kids shows). It was around 2 pm by this time so we set the alarm for 5 and curled up like cats.

We didn't wake up until 4 am the next morning.

Sure, we set an alarm but after hitting snooze several times, and after convincing a zombie Elliot that no, we would not be missing out on anything by sleeping because if we wandered around like sleepwalkers that'd hardly be "experiencing" Hong Kong either. So we turned off the alarm and slept for 14 hours. I woke up a few times drenched in sweat which I took to be a good sign that my fever had broken (yep, had been chilled/hot this entire time) so by the time we were up, I felt much better. Elliot decided to go take pictures of the city waking up and I stayed in the room and finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It was a bit long-winded and I didn't get completely sucked in until well over 200 pages but the ending was infuriating which is why I am now reading the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire. I like the main character and she reminds me of me sometimes. You know, besides the psychotic passive-aggressive sociopathic tendencies.

It's was a short walk from the hotel to the bay and ferries that cross back and forth between Hong Kong and Kowloon. Though we were in Hong Kong technically, we were staying on the Kowloon side, just to clarify to avoid confusion. It's like Boston and Cambridge or Istanbul with it's Asian and European sides. Along the way was the Walk of Fame with various Hong Kong stars' names and handprints on the ground as well as a huge statue of Bruce Lee. Elliot had explored there in the morning but I didn't go until later on in the trip, just caught glances as we walked by it. The ferry across to Hong Kong from Kowloon was about 30 cents and we used it often. My first time we did it early in the morning and the view was kind of awe-inspiring. Hong Kong looks like a very modern, very alien settlement with a very geometric and tall skyline. It towered over us in the daylight but it was beautiful at night when we were crossing back and all the lights were on. Except for the tacky season's greetings signs plastered and lit up all over the buildings. Seriously, I don't think I've heard, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," as often as I did it there. Christmas music was blaring everywhere. From the underground subway stations to the malls to the random crappy little restaurants on the streets. You have not lived until you've listened to, "Feliz Navidad," surrounded by screaming Chinese women. That's another thing. People never had normal conversations there. Because of the language, everyone just sounded like they were yelling at each other all the time. It was not a place for quiet reflection.

We made our way up to the Peak, one of the highest points in Hong Kong by way of a tram. We headed up the hill on the steepest incline. We were sitting down but it felt like we were about to flip over and go sliding back down to the bottom. There was also a Madame Tussaud's at the Peak and we took a couple pictures of the Bruce Lee figure for Elliot who is a huge a fan. At the top we had a beautiful view of the city and Kowloon too and we had delicious drinks of milk tea with coffee before heading back down where we wandered, quite by chance, into the Botanical Gardens and Zoo. There were all these gorgeous orchids and I saw a Venus Fly-Trap in real life! As well as a, um, raccoon. You see, I love raccoons (thank you childhood viewings of Pocahontas) and I've never seen them except in movies and they had one in a cage at the zoo. It was so fat it looked like it was wearing pants. I loved it. There were also several swinging monkeys, chimps, a bunch of turtles and giant tortoises, and many, many birds. I saw a crane for the first time too. I've never really cared for cranes and barely paid attention to them in artwork such as Japanese, but they were so big, and so elegant I couldn't take my eyes off them.

As we wandered back down the hill (the gardens and zoo were at the base of the Peak but still uphill) we followed our ears to some music. We came across a marching band celebrating... something. I'll have to ask Elliot what it was for but they were amazing. At one point we both realized we knew what they were playing. The band was dancing and waving their trumpets and trombones in unison while they played Lady Gaga. Yep, 'Bad Romance."

After that little show we headed to Queen's Road which is the Newbury St. counterpart in Hong Kong and wandered among the vendors. I got myself one of those bags used for carting rice with a picture of an elephant. I love these bags and have wanted one forever but they went for upwards of 100$ in the States. I got it for 100$ Hong Kong dollars. Which is about 14 dollars. Hong Kong is so cheap! We had lunch at a mall called The One right by our hotel. It's a place that's 10 stories high with various, hilarious, store names (such as Rapee Living) and we had the best pork buns I have ever tasted in my entire life. Oh dear Lord they were heavenly. Soft and juicy and flavoured with scallions. I almost wept. I also had noodles with chili and peanut sauce that burned my mouth to high heaven but were so worth it. Elliot had a few other steamed dumplings and a noodle dish and our meal, in a really nice place, came out to probably like 20$. Hong Kong is so cheap!

I bought a shirt with a bunny that says sex on it from there. The mall, not the pork bun place.

Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead of Boston and I got tired pretty fast in the day. I can walk a lot but am no match for Elliot (and my mother in some cases. Man, traveling with those to two together would really be a special kind of hell. I love you guys, just kidding. But while you two would hike up a mountain, the rest of us would probably die on the trail). There's a restaurant in Boston called the New Jumbo and it has a huge panoramic painting of Hong Kong so one of our goals was to go to the original and have a drink there. But seeing as how we were so tired, we kind of called it an early night again, though we did send an email off to our college friend and my first RA Nikki who lives in Hong Kong. We had many night activities planned, including a trip to the metal bar a reader at MetalSucks had told me about. Thanks Hong Kong :D !

I know Elliot wants to save and show off the pictures himself but here's a sneak. He took all the photos as he's our excellent photographer.

The dancers.

Sun coming up over Hong Kong and the bay we crossed with ferries everyday.

The street right outside our hotel.

At the top of the Peak.

Bruce Lee at Madame Tussaud.

Orchids at the Botanical Gardens.

Marching band.

Stores at The One.

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