sunnuntai 22. maaliskuuta 2009

Please have a look ma'am

We went to Hong Kong with another couple few weeks ago. It was only a long weekend, Thursday through Sunday, but boy, was it just what I needed! I was slightly stressed before the trip. I was not myself, I could feel it. Hong Kong was lush and green compared to Shanghai (although now the spring is kicking in in Shanghai, too), sun was shining, and I left the laptop home and switched of pushmail. I also considered dropping my passport accidentally to the sea so I could stay few extra days. I love Hong Kong. I love many places. I don't know what to do if I need to stop travelling.

Banana flower (or so I was told)

Climbing up the wall...

Hong Kong is buzzing city. A little on the noisy side, but not nearly as noisy as Shanghai. And it is clean. Not as clean as Singapore, but sooo much more cleaner than Shanghai. And it is so international! The people on the streets of Hong Kong are colourful and look interesting. People also seem more open, and more active than in Shanghai. I mean, Shanghainese are highly active and many of them work really really hard. But for example the sales assistants, waiters /-resses, and other service people seemed different, more interested in their work, more service-oriented than most of them do in Shanghai. I don't know why.

We stayed at Kowloon, but of course visited Hong Kong island. For you who don't know HK, Hong Kong island is the side which has the financial center, the high-rise buildings, which form the signatory Hong Kong view. Which you can see, not from Hong Kong island, but from Kowloon.

If you like a good steak, I would recommend the Steak House in the Intercontinental Hotel. The service was magnificient, and food was excellent. We hadn't reserved a table, but we asked for directions to the restaurant from the hotel lobby, and when we arrived at the restaurant door, they told us our table is ready. They asked the name of our "host" (in Chinese dinner parties you pretty much always have to have a host, I have understood) and used it through out the dinner. You get to choose from 8 different salts and eight different beef knives (although this might be a bit of a show-off). The signatory Hong Kong view was gorgeous, as it always is. Unless there is haze. And then again, it still can be rmarkable through the haze / fog. Anyway, go there. It is not pennies we left there, but it never is in that kind of places. And it was totally worth it. After dinner, have a drink at the Aqua bar, which has an amazing view from the top of the 1 Beijing Road. They also serve food, there is an Italian kitchen and Japanese kitchen.

The indian-looking tailors and hawkers were there, on the streets, as before. You can hardly walk 5 meters without someone offering you fake handbags, Rolexes, Guccis and Pradas. Have a look mam. Tailor made suit, sir. Have a look. I may have gotten used to it a bit, since it didn't seem as aggressive as previously. It is funny that they actually offer you fake goods, in most placed they just offer "Gucci" and "Prada", but in Hong Kong they are honest :o) Fake Gucci, mam, have a look.

We didn't see our favourite hawker. Can you believe I have one? We met him first in 2005, and he was the only one of them who actually remembered we had said "no thank you" to his offer. The next day when we saw him and I was readying myself to say the word ("NO!", incase you didn't get it). "No worries", he said, "I remember you, I never offer twice if I know someone don't want it." My jaw dropped. What a great hawker. If I would buy copied goods, I would certainly buy from him. Then, few years ago (2007, I think) J. was back in Hong Kong, and the guy STILL remembered him. I was kind of looking forward to seeing him again, but we didn't see him. Maybe he has found another line of business. I hope he's doing well.

We went to Macau on Saturday. Actually the guys went in the morning, we enjoyd of few hours of girl-time, did some shopping and went to Macau later in the afternoon. Macau was like a smaller version of Las Vegas, except there were a lot more Chinese. And many of the casinos were kind of apart from each other, where as in Vegas you can see most casinos just walking the strip. (In the evening, that is, othervise the sun will grill you to death before you have had time to see them. I've only been there during the summer, winter is a different matter.) Anyway, I would go back to Vegas any day, and I would go back to Macau any day, too. I gambled mind boggling amounts. Eight euros, in total. AND I was just on the verge of feeding in MORE money, when we left for dinner. Saved by the dinner bell, I say!

It takes an hour by ferry to get there, the ferries leave every hour, and the terminal was just below our hotel in Kowloon. Tickets were about 150 HK dollars, which is about 15 euros, one way. Only complain is that you cannot enjoy the fresh sea air, but are forced to sit inside. And, coming back, the sea-road was slightly bumpy. It made it fairly difficult to gulp down the bottle of champagne we decided to share with my friend (despite of the disapproving looks from our gentlemen(?) companions). Note to self: rough waters and champangne from bottle don't go well together.
Picture altered to protect the innocent and to demonstrate the feeling with the Moet and the rough sea.

In Hong Kong island, they have these escalators, world's longest. People use them to get to / off work. What a fantastic way to cut (car) traffic on the narrow streets down the hill! There is only one line of escalators, so in the morning they go downwards so people can get down from the hill and to the offices, and some time before noon they start going upwards, and continue like that until the next morning.

You can get of the escalators in several points, and the area surrounding the escalators is magnificent! There are stylish, cosy, comfortable, modern, all kinds of restaurants near the escalators, and we were practically screaming from exhilaration and happiness! If only we had time to ferret through all of them! (The guys again didn't really see what is that big deal about it, but then, they often don't get these really important things.) We tried some, of course, but there were so many more left. Also food market is near, and we bought some kiwi-berries. The first I have ever had: tasted like sweet kiwi, but you can eat the whole thing, peels and all.

Did I mention I love Hong Kong?

They also had an interesting umbrella fashion there:

And demonstrations. That is not something you see in the mainland China every day... There were people in front of many banks, and from below photo you can see they had warm feelings towards the bank management. I am not sure, but we concluded from the posters that those people had lost their savings, and somehow thought the banks had stolen their money. I am not sure we can blame the banks for the entire economic downspiral we in (we also need to blame the Americans). Perhaps those people didn't realize, due to last ten years of stock price development, that there actually is a factor of risk involved with investing to stocks... Anyway, it was good to see that at least you can demonstrate in Hong Kong (at least if the subject is in private sector..?).

We of course visited the Victoria peak, and went up and down with the 120 years old tram. The picture doesn't replace 100 words, 'cause it doesn't tell how steep the hill really is, but the tram staid on rails, once again.

I warmly recommend the peak, you can see to the other side of Hong Kong island, too. I just so love the greenness of it.

On Sunday, we went to Disneyland. It was a disappointment. If course, if I had done any preparations and actually looked it up, it would not have come as a surprise, but there was only ONE (ONE!!) ride. One lousy roller-coaster. The rest of it was for kids. Or true Disney-lovers. You know, I've read my Donald Ducks where the next guy, but I've already seen it all in Los Angeles Disneyland. Which, by the way, also had many good rides! The weather was great, so we enjoyed the Hong Kong Disneyland for few hours, but to say it was "the happiest place on earth", no way. There was just no love between the two of us. I could have used the time in the city so well, too!

But no hard feelings even for Disneyland, as those four days were a great break. When we came back I didn't subconsciously clench my teeth together in my sleep anymore... I still love Hong Kong.

Go and see for yourself. Cathay Pacific had a really good offer: the four days and three nights package was 3090 RMB per person (considering that, I am puzzled where all my money went?) and the hotel (Royal Pacific) was on a very good location. Our rooms were a little outdated, but we had a view of the sea, and we hardly but slept there. There were other hotels available in the package, and I would have chosen one of them, but we booked too late and they were already full.

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Eeva kirjoitti...

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