From Hong Kong

Trip Start May 18, 2005
Trip End Jul 10, 2005

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Flag of Hong Kong  ,
Saturday, May 21, 2005

(Written in journal yesterday, but added to travelogue a day later)

Time is irrelevant. I'd like to say that we boarded the plane today, but I think it was about 30 hours ago. Something about 20+ hours on a plane and crossing 11 timezones (not to mention the international date line) completely destroys my sense of time. But time is irrelevant anyway.

When we got to DFW airport, the person at the baggage check-in was quite the novice (read: incompetent). I felt sure that our checked baggage would disappear somewhere between Dallas, Houston, Taipei, and Hong Kong. But I had in my carryon a change of clothes, malaria pills, and Atlas Shrugged - I would have been just fine. After a tearful goodbye, we passed through security only to be labeled as "selectees" and detained for further inspection. After determining that a Rice student and Baylor faculty were not major threats to airport security, we continued to our gate. There, we found our third, my dad's friend of old, Jeff.

I don't remember much about the flight from Dallas to Houston other than the nurse on the aisle seat, next to my dad, who was next to me. She was quite talkative and very enthusiastic about talking about herself. Although I suppose we all enjoy telling others about ourselves, even complete strangers, as long as they're willing to listen. Other than the talkative nurse, the flight to Houston was uneventful.

Once we landed, we set off to catch our next flight: China Air to Taipei (via Seattle). Terminal D was the most remote terminal from where we were, byt we definitely didn't have to hurry. The airport was completely empty as we approached the terminal, standing on the (slowly) moving walkways. I've never seen an airpor (or part of one) so empty. All the shops and restaurants were closed, tehre were no live signs or TV screens, no people. And then we arrived at Terminal D. 100% Asian (except my two fellow travelers). Armani Exchange and Banana Republic could have made the scene into an ad for themselves - bags and shirts with the two distinctively Asian-appealing labels decorated teh check-in lines. Stereotypical, yes, but true nonetheless.

After some waiting around, being relabeled as "selectees," and an incident with security (a security person calling my dad "braindead" and reaping the consequences), we boarded our plane - bound for Seattle. The Airbus 340 is set up in seats of 2-4-2. The two side seats are much more spacious, so my dad and I abandoned our middle seats for those as quickly as we could. Two hours of sleep on a four hour flight (for me) was as good as it got. We were told that the flight was full at checkin, but there were many empty seats. We discovered in Seattle why the flight was full, picking up as many new passengers as there were empty seats. Back to the middle.

Sleeping on airplanes is difficult, especially with little kids to your front, left, and rear. It's uncomforatable, too - you have just enough room to tilt your head a little, but when you wake up from that position (as I did every 15-45 minutes), you realize that it's awkward and uncomfortable. I attempted to read for a while but found myself too tired to concentrate. So instead I alternated between listening to my MP3 playter, listening to airplane-provided music, and sleeping. I didn't really do much of any of them, despite the 12-hour flight between Seattle and Taipei. The food was really good. Well, for airplane food. And unlike stingy American companies, China Air provided ample food a sufficient number of times during the flight.

Not much to say about Taipei to Hong Kong.

So after plenty of food and hardly any sleep, we arrived at our final destination: Hong Kong. We followed a stream of people and found the baggage claim area. A uniformed woman read our baggage claim tickets (which consisted of numbers, airport codes, and barcodes) and directed us to Claim 4. Not bad, considered that there weas no "4" anywhere on the stubs. Yay for Hong Kong airport officials! To my amazement, our baggage was there waiting for us. I'm not normally pessimistic about that stuff, but the first agent inspired no confidence in me. Bus line A21 delivered us to our room from the airport.

I saw Hong Kong for the first time from the bus. It was about 10:00 am, there was a thick fog/haze, and it was mostly cloudy. The best way for me to describe the city is with one adjective: vertical. Especially as compared to Dallas and Houston. High rise apartments lined the water, enormous bamboo scaffolding rose to the sky, dilapidated yet still functional buildings littered the water and the water's edge. The city seemed aged, but still very mcuh alive. And very vertical. Green, too. If I knew what New York looked like fifteen years ago, I'd say it looked like this city: crowded, busy, and very much alive. Advertisements paint walls and buildings, cellphones inhabit every pedestrian's hand, and cars and buses constantly play tug-of-war with lane openings. Then we arrived: the Mirador Mansion.

It's not quite a mansion as you might imagine - try a highrise of shops and guesthouses. In fact, the rooms are about the size of a closet one might find in a mansion (a small mansion, though). Plus three beds. I took a picture of the room we're staying in, but I don't have a way to get them off my phone. I love the room - it's the ultimate efficiency. The shower + sink + toilet take up less room than a standard bathtub. If the room were any bigger, I might forget I'm in Asia. If I used the word fabulous, I'd say the room is fabulous. Since I don't, I'll just say it's perfect. I couldn't be happier in the Hyatt, two blocks over.

Once we settled in our closet, we decided to seek out something to eat (and just generally explore the area). I was surprised at the number of people of Middle Eastern descent, as well as the the number of Africans. I don't know what I expected, just not that. We found some good-looking (and cheap) Indian restaurants but kept exploring around the neighboring few blocks. We decidedon a place called "Macau Restaurant," where we shared a table with three Chinese girls. We asked them what they had, since it looked good, and hey pointed each item out on the menu (since they didn't speak English, and we didn't speak Mandarin). We ordered the same things the did - chicken curry was what I got. Although chicken isn't the meat to get, it was still very good. I also had iced milk tea - also very good. We walked around after that a big more, and then we returned to our closet, where I am now. Since I haven't showered in a while, I think I'l go do that.

Note: Entries will be coming in after the fact. I wrote this yesterday and have done more stuff since, but will probably write about that the next time I update. Until then! Also, please pardon the typos, since this keyboard is sticky and very small.
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chaskemp on

i love this first entry- how cool is this?? we knew abt closets for 2 but for 3, pretty tight. where is the mirador? near chung king mansion or in it? the food sounds terrific and should be for most of the trip. you have thailand to look forward to and it's the best.
looking forward to daily updates. love, mom

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