fighting the lack of good ideas

hong kong

I’ve been in Hong Kong since 2000 local time last Saturday for a client engagement. It’s been a great trip so far – meeting the Hong Kong team, touring parts of the city, and browsing the open markets (there are more markets here than I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve been to a bunch of cities).

The trip started at 0900 local time in Durham when I headed to RDU for my connecting flight to EWR. A couple hours later I was in the air with my customer counterpart from the US team who was going to Hong Kong to assist/watch/interpret for the week. Hong Kong is UTC+8, so right now it’s a little after midnight Friday 6 Mar on the east coast while it’s about 1525 as I write this in Hong Kong.

The flight from EWR to HKG was nonstop on a Boeing 777 – 16 hours in the air. We flew up and over the top of globe, flying over Greenland (though you couldn’t see it since it was night by the time we got over it), then over the Arctic Ice Pack, Siberia, Mongolia, the Great Wall, the entire ‘height’ of China, and finally into Hong Kong. That’s a long flight. A really long flight. But the views (during daylight which happened shortly after crossing the North Pole – very weird) were awesome. The vast whiteness of the Arctic were gorgeous, and the snow-covered mountains and plains of Siberia were so bright, sunglasses were required. Sadly, I fell asleep somewhere over central Mongolia, so I missed seeing Ulanbataar, the Great Wall, and any part of China during the daylight. Oh well.

Hong Kong’s public transit system is very efficient – I utilized the MTR (underground/subway), buses, and taxis all week, and found them to be refreshingly pleasant (the drivers are a little nuts (this coming from someone who thinks it’s normal to drive in Manhattan), but there are hardly any traffic jams).

Our hotel, Langham Place in Mongkok, is a full-service, 5-star hotel and is very convenient to the customer’s office, the Mongkok MTR station, malls, and street markets.

On Sunday, Cary and I went to the peak on the Peak Tram on Hong Kong Island – boy was that ride steep: parts of it approach 40 degrees! When we got to the top, though, it was so cloudy we couldn’t see more than a few dozen yards. It made the whole view very mysterious, though, as we walked around the paths at the top – almost like the feeling you have in a dream where you think you’re falling and can’t see anything, except we could see the pavement we were walking on 🙂

Later we meandered through more of the Island, visiting the Man Mo Temple and seeing open markets. The we rode the MTR over to the Museum of Coastal Defence, inspecting the redoubt, equipment, and history of defending Hong Kong going back to the 14th century.

For dinner we took the bus to Aberdeen, then the free ferry out to Jumbo floating restaurant where we nearly passed-out at the first dinner choice. It was a $15000 (HK) fish! Even with the current exchange rate of ~7.5:1 HKD:USD, that’s an expensive fish! Fortunately, later in the menu we found options that were far more reasonable – on the order of a couple hundred HKD.

My dad was here when he was in the US Navy in the early 1970s, and he asked me to go to a couple places while I was here. One of those was Jimmy’s Kitchen. I went there Tuesday night with Cary, and we enjoyed a classic [Western] dinner after seeing the nightly light show done between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. And how many times will you be able to say this in your life? I stood on Jackie Chan!

Ok, ok. So it was on the walk of stars. But hey! I still was faster than Jackie Chan Tuesday night 😉

Throughout the week, I’ve eaten at the hotel, local shops, the food court in the mall next to the office, and, of course, McDonald’s. The menu is different here, but has some familiar entries like the Egg McMuffin.

All-in-all, this has been both a remarkably productive, and entertaining week. Hong Kong is remarkably clean, with very little litter visible – at least where I’ve been. Most people seem to be polite and friendly, though I suppose it might be an artifact of my being a tourist, I’ve gotten the feeling that it’s actually how they are, that it’s not just for show.

This trip has been an experience I won’t soon forget, and hope to come back again before too long 🙂