Friday, July 24, 2009

Hong Kong Hustle

At first, I was worried that our trip to Hong Kong was going to be marred by horrendous weather. The internets had told me to expect thunderstorms all nine days we were there. Luckily, the internets was wrong.

Jing and I flew from LAX to Hong Kong via Taipei, and boy was that a long-ass flight. We arrived at LAX around 10pm on July 2nd, and thanks to the wonders of the International Dateline, we didn't step out of the Hong Kong International airport until 11am, July 4th. That's right; two "days" on a plane. And, of course, upon arrival, the sky cracked open and poured torrents onto the steamy streets of Hong Kong. It was magical.

Anyway, Jing and I got to the hotel first and managed to settle in, wolf down a ramen-y lunch, and sneak in a quick nap before Mike and Karolina made their entrance. As soon as Mike arrived, I had an instant bout of deja-vu. During The Trip, there was a very definite sense of excitement whenever the OC would first set down in a new country. There was a pattern to it all: arrive at the hotel, set up the OC mini-base, have cleansing rest, and then the new adventure began. And here we were again: the same play with an updated cast. But the feeling was exactly the same, and I had really missed it.

The next few days were awesome. It was a typical OC outing, through and through. We went for long walks through damp alleyways and across thundering motorways. We took boats, taxis, buses, trams, elevators and escalators to various parts of the metropolis to see a museum, or a design expo, or the view from Victoria Peak, or just to have lunch. We had boozy evenings and confusing mornings. The weather even cleared up halfway through, surprising us with beautiful clear blue skies. It was a sweaty, delicious, tiring, intriguing, frustrating, and invigorating adventure.

Our last day was spent away from Hong Kong proper, hiking around the quiet island of Lamma, just a short ferry ride away. We sprawled on the beach, strolled through the forests, and had a luxurious seafood dinner on the water. There was even a sunset. The ferry ride back gave us a sparkling nighttime view of the Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbor.

As a city, Hong Kong is the bomb. I love these huge, multi-layered cities. You'll never run out of things to do and explore. Hong Kong has all of the international flavor of New York City, but it's in the center of the fastest developing area in the world. There is so much energy and potential in that city... I could easily see myself living there. The future should be very interesting for Hong Kong.

Macau, on the other hand, not so cool. After Jing and Karo left, Mike and I took another ferry ride an hour across the way to visit the ex-portuguese colony for a few days. I was drawn in by the promise of nice beaches, interesting food, old colonial portuguese architecture, and a thrumming nightlife. What I found was an oppressively humid, grubby, bombed-out version of Vegas. There is a lot of money pouring into that city, and they are tearing up all of the old colonial buildings to make room for the glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas East. But, they certainly aren't there yet. It's currently a jarring mix of dying colonial buildings, dirty-grey chinese office buildings, and over-the-top Vegas mega-casinos. Very little actual culture to be found. It's also filled to the brim with seedy people chasing after the scraps of a burgeoning gambling industry. In short, me no likie.

But, despite the disappointing finale, the trip itself was a huge success. I feel like I finally got to finish what I started almost four years ago. And it gave me the urge again. I have a feeling that things are going to be changing quite a bit in the next few years. Mike and I are getting all old and responsible. I think the OC needs to have a proper epilogue before it's too late.


Post a Comment

<< Home