Everyone who loves Hong Kong: you're right

Trip Start Sep 04, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Flag of Hong Kong  ,
Monday, September 10, 2007

Nine or ten hours on a plane on the way to Europe can seem like a long time, but it's nothing compared with 11 hours from Seattle to Tokyo, an hour or two in the Tokyo airport, and another four or five hours from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Even I can't read for 17 hours straight, and by the middle of the second flight, Peter Hessler's adventures in River Town were merging with half-waking dreams. I finally gave up, took a catnap, and awoke refreshed enough to navigate my way from the Hong Kong airport to my hotel, not that this was much of a challenge. Immigration at the Hong Kong airport is fast, efficient, and polite; my one checked bag had already hit the carousel by the time I arrived to get it; the carts for lugging bags around are where they should be and they're free; and you can take a cart all the way to the door of the Airport Express train. On the other end, at the Kowloon train station, there are more free carts that you can take all the way to the taxi pickup zone, which is indoors and air conditioned. The taxi driver was a maniac, as you'd expect of a taxi driver in a major city, and I was at the hotel in mere minutes.

The hotel, the Lee Garden somethingorother, is atmosphere challenged, as I knew when I made the reservation. The room was minute-just wide enough for a bed-and the bathroom and the shower are one, which lets you put your shampoo conveniently on the toilet seat. Total size: less than 75 square feet. Then again, it's a five-minute walk to Kowloon Park, a 15-minute walk to the Star Ferry terminal, and a two-minute walk to at least two bakeries. Oh, and it's clean and inexpensive. Before I left, I gave them a deposit for my return trip. Hey, I'm traveling alone. Romantic is not important. ;-)

My standard method for avoiding jet lag on really long trips across many time zones didn't work. I usually just stay up, save for a quick nap or two on the plane, and crash after being awake for 30 hours or so. This time I was up for maybe 27 hours, and I was plenty tired enough when I went to bed at midnight in Hong Kong, but as the guy next to me on the flight from Seattle to Tokyo warned me, I woke up early the next morning, and I continue to fight a weird sleeping schedule even now, four or five days later (depending on how you count the day lost to the International Date Line).

"Hong Kong" doesn't have as many syllables as "Chicago," and I'm not Frank Sinatra, but it's still my kind of town. Almost everyone I've spoken with who has been to Hong Kong counts it as among their favorite cities, and I now understand why. As with any big city, the hubbub would wear me down eventually, but as a place to get an adrenaline fix, it beats Chicago or Manhattan: more dense, more crowded, more places to get lost, more weird food, and I haven't even left lower Kowloon yet. (Kowloon is attached to the mainland. Hong Kong island is directly south of Kowloon.) I've already learned that eating filleted, curried garoupa (grouper?) with chopsticks is not as easy as using a fork; that red bean paste is an acceptable substitute for chocolate in a breakfast pastry (note that I didn't say preferable, just acceptable); that the Hong Kong skyline has more neon, as well as more-creative neon, than Times Square; and that almost every alley, however narrow (some just wide enough for two people to pass), goes through to someplace I haven't seen yet. Hong Kong is where I'm finishing out my vacation, and I can hardly wait to get back here for another ten days of adventure.
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scottk on

Re: Hope this find you well.....
Hey Melissa,

Sure wish I had that candy bowl sometimes. Finding decent chocolate in China is a challenge, and M&Ms have had to suffice any number of times.

Here's hoping I get through the rest of this adventure without needing M911. ;-)


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