Asia travels begin: Hong Kong

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End May 2010

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Flag of Hong Kong  ,
Monday, September 21, 2009

So begins the big backpack travel again--first stop: Hong Kong.  Cathay Pacific provided a relatively uneventful 14hr flight to a hot and humid Hong Kong!  Quite a change from the crisp Indian Summer we left in the Northwest.  But we were stoked to be amongst the modern craziness of Hong Kong: modern skyscrapers, escalator-assisted sidewalks (yes, in the streets!), zero-wait subway systems and tomorrow's electronics avaiable today. 

Lego buildings of glass in Causeway Bay

However, our extensive plans to visit friends, roam the streets and sights and taste the famed Catonese food would have to wait.  We still didn't have our Chinese visas, which we needed to enter China in a mere three days time.  Upon arrival, we travelled straight to the Visa Processing Embassy Center, entered the multicultural queue and waited, then filled out forms, stood in other lines, took a number, filled out forms and then took a receipt only to be sent away to pick up our Passport the day of flight.  We shrugged, hoped for the best and promptly forgot about this potentially impending disaster and focused on Hong Kong! 

Ben had made arrangements for us to stay with his friend, Fanny, on Hong Kong Island .  Fanny Yau is a good friend of Ben's from the University of Western Ontario.  She's hard-working, professional, amazingly savvy with real estate investments, gifted in languages (English, Mandarin, German, Cantonese (native)), and a pretty darn good golfer! 

We met up with Fanny and friends after they got off work and headed out for dinner on Lamma Island.  Lamma Island, SW of Hong Kong Island, has been closed to no car traffic and is famous for hiking trails and seafood restaurants.  If you reserve with the restaurants there, you get a free boat ride out there.  We skipped on night hiking and went straight for the food.  We tried heaps of amazing seafood, most of which were foreign or unrecognizable to us. 

Fanny and friends before we head out to dinner on Lamma Island

OK - this is fish. That I know!

We spent a wonderful, hot, humid day with Fanny and Kenyon.  Kenyon grew up in Vancouver and thus is an avid Canucks fan.  We visited the touristy Peak Tram which takes you up the steep slope to the summit of Victoria Peak.  It beats walking when it's 35 degrees and 90% humidity outside!

Kenyon and Fanny on the Peak Tram

Lindsey on the Peak (Victoria Peak), Hong Kong's highest point. The Hong Kong skyline is so ridculously riddled with skyscrappers, it makes downtown Vancouver (and other such cities) look like a little town. Talk about population density!

We visited the famous Chungking Mansions on Nathan Rd. The building is well known as the cheapest accommodation in Hong Kong. The building is made up of many independent, low-budget hotels, shops, and other services. Chungking Mansions features a labyrinth of guesthouses, curry restaurants, African bistros, clothing shops, sari stores, and foreign exchange offices. It often acts as a large gathering place for some of the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, particularly South Asians (Indians, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans), Middle Eastern people, Nigerians, Europeans, Americans, and many other peoples of the world.

Ben is wowed by Chungking Mansions

A group of school girls befriended Ben in Kowloon

We next visited and stayed with a friend of Ben's from Courtenay, Sean Rogers. Sean and Ben shared the experience of attending the same high school that their mothers taught at, who taught Chemistry and English respectively. Sean is working in Hong Kong for Lenovo and his fiancee, Jessica, is taking her Executive MBA (in Hong Kong) through the Richard Ivey School of Business.   Huge thanks to Sean and Jessica for letting them crash at their place, for the amazing BBQ and letting us use their gym passes! 

Sean is a master bbq'er and his styling apartment has a roof top bbq and sweet views of Causeway Bay.

Hong Kong's "Times Square", a few blocks from Sean's apartment

While Jessica had class the next day, Sean, Lindsey and Ben toured the Kowloon Walled City Park. In the 60-80s, the Kowloon Walled City was notorious for its brothels, casinos, opium dens, cocaine parlours, food courts serving dog meat, secret factories, and, hold you breath, unlicensed dentist operations! By the 80s, Kowloon Walled City was estimated to have a population of 35,000 in the area the size of just a few city blocks!!! The city was demolished in 1993 and is now a lovely park in Kowloon!

An archive photo of the Kowloon Walled City

Sean and Lindsey - diplomacy in action in Kowloon Walled City Park

We managed to get our Chinese Visas the day of our flight and still catch our flight to Guilin where we'll be rock climbing and visiting the beautiful countryside of the River Li (Li Jiang). 

A few more photos from HK on Flickr: 

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Where I stayed
Fanny's place
Sean's place (Causeway Bay)
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krista.mcmillan on

you guys have friends EVERYWHERE! now that is the way to travel. can't wait to see your pics from Nepal, you two will LOVE it! All my best photos that i have framed in my place are of Nepal....sigh!

adrock1262 on

Hong Kong looks sweet
I miss you guys. It sucks I didn't see you when you were last in the PNW. Lynne and myself and perhaps a couple others will be in Vietnam over thanksgiving. If there is any way to hook up, we should.


granola1 on

canucks circa 1990
Love the dude with the old-school Canucks jersey. Reminds me of when you see of the Mexicans you see wearing hand-me-down goodwill clothing. Word!

therunningdog on

Hen Hao!
So stoked for you guys! I'm very jealous. Can't wait to hear about your time in Yangshuo!

Pan yan! Pan Shan! He pijiu!

Gan bei!

benandlindsey on

Re: canucks circa 1990
So funny you brought that up. You see so many people in China wearing shirts in English with incorrect and funny translations. We were commenting on this with Sean and Jessica as well.

In fact, you see it all over restaurant buildings too. For example, 'My Favor Steak.'

It's everywhere really. Even on public signs. See a few examples on this Freakenomics blog site:

benandlindsey on

Thanks for all your wonderful comments! It was so wonderful to hear from you all again.

davejones on

Wow, I stayed there in the late 80s. That's where I learned what bed bugs were :) Was back a few years later and the building was on fire. What a deathtrap. Glad you guys are having a great time!

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