Back In the USSA

Trip Start Feb 27, 2007
Trip End Jun 01, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Kentucky
Saturday, June 2, 2007

Well, after a long haul through one of the best parts of the world, I am back home safe and sound.  Anyone have $1500 so I can go back?

The last few days of my trip were an excellent cap to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  My week in Manila was spent in the Peninsula Hotel - far and away the nicest place I got to stay in during my travels.  Days were spent wandering the monolithic malls of Makati, or detoxing at the hotel spa, while nights were fueled by the intense party scene of Manila - apparently Spain's 'la marcha' culture caught on here along with some of their food, language, and religion.  I hung out with a buddy I met rafting earlier in my trip, along with a number of his friends in the area - all around good times. 

I also got a chance to visit the 2nd biggest mall in Asia - the creatively-named Mall of Asia.  It was a spectacle, for sure; there is even an ice-skating rink in this thing!  My most major tourist activity in my time there was to take a solo spin through Rizal Park, an honor to the national hero, Jose Rizal.

After Manila, I flew to Hong Kong.  This proved to be the shortest (48 hours), and yet most memorable visit of my tour.  While I was unable to find cheap backpacker lodging (I think this had something to do with my stint at the Manila Pen), most of my activities there were cheap.  I spent a lot of time walking through the city's neighborhoods.  I stayed in Kowloon, across a bay from Hong Kong proper.  This area was quite touristy, with a wealth of foods of all kinds, museums (that I missed due to the timing of my stay!), and entertainment. 

Taking the ferry across the way (an amazing way to get a grasp on the scope of Hong Kong's architecture and planning - see video) opened the door to a few good hours of wandering along canyon-like streets, between some very famous buildings, including the Bank of China Tower.  Afterwards, I took the tram to the top of Victoria Peak, for a Godzilla's eye view of everything the city has to offer.

Hong Kong's nightlife was great as well - much of my time was spent in Lan Kwai Fong, an excellent area of restaurants and clubs.  Everything there was expensive, but I got to meet some very interesting people, including a couple of priveledged girls from Thailand on a short holiday, and some filipino musicians (apparently the majority of live, western music in Hong Kong is played by cover bands manned entirely by filipinos - random).

Food was great there as well - I mostly ate sushi (so so fresh) and chinese dumpling and noodle dishes.  It has since made me lose the craving I used to have for China Express back home...

And then it was time to drag myself into a cab, onto the train, back to the airport, through the departure gate.  After a night of very little sleep, followed by a few more hours of wandering the streets, I was ready for bed, but in a bid to stave off the jet lag that was just licking its chops in anticipation, I attempted to stay up for my entire trans-pacific flight.  And although I was able to do so, things got pretty weird, and I think it was a bad idea in terms of my interactions with people when I landed in the US.  I felt like I couldn't have one normal conversation with anyone at customs, the airport restaurant, the gate to my next flight.  I was definitely out of it - all I could think about was going back, or how much cheaper something would be back there, or how much better the food would taste.  It's slowly wearing off, but even now, as I look back over the things I've written in the past 3 months, I get the urge to run up a mammoth credit card bill and catch a long flight to Asiatown, freeflowing Tiger beer and Siamese Stewardesses included...
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