Monday, December 14, 2015

Last Day in Hong Kong

This was my final day in Hong Kong the rain had cleared from the previous day. I was both sad and a little excited to leave. To most Hong Kongers this city is small with not much to see as a tourist, but I found 4 days was not enough. I had just become accustomed to life in Hong Kong. I finally felt I was getting used to the flow of the city. I was able to navigate alone unchallenged by the thick weave of streets.

My flight was later in the day, so i had time to explore just a bit more. I headed for the Avenue of Stars, which is located right along Victoria's Harbor facing with Hong Kong Island just across the bay. It was only a short train ride from Kowloon maybe one or two stops.

It was still early in the day when I arrived at the stop closest to the harbor. Because this was a weekday the streets were less crowded than I was used to,so it was kind of peaceful just walking about while everyone was at work for the day.

I found this guy taking a mid morning nap  on part of the art display.

 The harbor was quiet with a steady ambient noise from the construction of a towering skyscraper nearby. I seemed to have gotten used to the obscene heat and humidity of Hong Kong by this point but the breeze coming off the harbor was refreshing.For the first time in my life I felt content calmly watching the boats navigate through the haze of the harbor.
Even in this condensed city new building are still erected 

I went down one way occasionally seeing another group of tourists taking selfies of the harbor.
I remembered how when I begun to plan my trip I had wanted a strict schedule so I could see everything. I would take a few pictures just to say I had been somewhere;This was better. If I have one piece of advice for travels it is this. Don't make plans the best things in life are spontaneous . Sticking to schedules will make you stress and that will only make your travels less enjoyable.

I headed down the other direction of the harbor towards the Avenue of Stars. Hong Kong for those of you don't know has had a history of cinema. Much like Hollywood Hong Kong too showcases their most famous stars on a walk of fame.

Of course Hong Kong's most famous star was ironically American born. Bruce Lee is a name that still lives on today as a pioneer in both the film and martial arts industry. As both a film buff and a student of martial arts, this was a must see for me.

Although this wasn't the most incredible sight i saw on my journey, it still brought a great big smile to my face. I must also point out how difficult it was to get a picture of Bruce Lee with no one taking selfies. Even on a weekday morning people seem to flock to sights such as this just to take a selfie and to say "I was here"

There he is that pig again

Another Favorite of mine Jackie Chan is another
famous actor in Hong Kong Cinema

As a side note I found some interesting signs along this boardwalk,
I sincerely hope this isn't a real problem in Hong Kong

It is a good thing I left my Hawk at home. I would also
like to know how one keeps a hawk in a city of this size

After traveling the length of the boardwalk I made my way into yet another shopping district. I was getting hungry at this point,so i stopped to eat.

I found many restaurants near tourist areas seemed to be good about having English menus. Which was good for me since I cannot read Cantonese. I sat down to have at one of my Hong Kong friends suggestion Kongee an almost rice porridge. Although not as filling as I had hoped it helped settle my already upset stomach.

After eating i wandered around some more in and out of some malls. I found a One Piece 3D Art Museum. One Piece is an anime that is huge all over Hong Kong. Everywhere I saw merchandise related to this or other anime. It was kind of neat, you would go in and take pictures of yourself next to the art and it would look as if you were in the Anime.

 I headed back to Causeway Bay for the last couple hours to get some nick nacks and maybe a book on Cantonese. Otherwise uneventful I made my way back to the Hostel where I packed up.
While packing up I made a friend of  both my host and another fellow from Columbia. I truly wish I had more time to talk to them. They were both fascinating people an artist / hostel owner, and a free lance translator in visa limbo from mainland china.

Like a pack-mule I headed towards the airport ready for my next leg of my journey. I was truly sad that I only had a short time in such a vibrant lively city.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Day 3 Macau Part 2

We were on our way to Macau tower. As we waited at a bus stop I noticed how dissimilar the architecture was from Hong Kong it was as if I wasn't even in Asia. Even the people had a different. look to them. Aside from the Chinese writing everywhere I would have never had guessed I was in Asia.

Passing through the city I noticed how extravagant some of the casinos were sadly I did not have the opportunity to go into any of them.  After a short ride. Similar to the space needle in Seattle giving a fantastic view of city and the surrounding mountains. I truly wish the weather had been better.

What fascinated me most about the tower was the number of people who bungee jumped from the top of the tower! My friend and I were awestruck watching them over and over jump from the tower. Something I don't think i had the courage to do.

After circling the top of the tower we went below to see the jumpers jump from the top.

After eating dinner at a local restaurant. She took me back to the ferry to make my way back to Macau. I truly miss her and I wish I had more than one day to spend with her.

 On the way back to Hong Kong the sky began to clear up and I had a wonderful view of the casinos and massive bridges.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Day 3 Macau Part 1

I had my ticket passport in hand I eagerly waited to board the ferry to Macau. Now for those of you who don't know Macau is also autonomous from mainland China. Meaning I did not require a visa to enter,but it also meant i needed to show my passport of entry of Macau and exit of Hong Kong. The boat was jam packed 3 rows of 3 seats each. I was positioned in the middle with no view of the journey. There wasn't much to see anyway the weather was too rainy.

Although the trip was only an hour I tried to get some rest,but the rock of the sea and the pit in my stomach made me nauseous.From my seat I could see nothing but rain and waves. The boat moved at an incredible speed across the water. After a short time we had arrived.

I searched for my friend having never met her before I didn't know who to look for. For her I was easy to spot being the only westerner on the boat. Her face lit up when she saw me. She is a native of Macau,but she had studied in Taiwan so she could speak both Cantonese and Mandarin. Her English was limited,so i had to use my Chinese the entire time I was with her. It was such a delight.

Immediately i could see a vast difference from the atmosphere of Hong Kong. It is hard to describe even the architecture seemed different Macau, had once been a Portuguese colony so i guess it is safe to say it had a Portuguese feel to it. The first place she took me was a vary famous tourist spot catering to the rich. 

The streets did not feel as crowed as Hong Kong but they were still booming. We talked along the way in simple conversation as much as my Chinese would allow. She spoke simply for me understanding that my Chinese was limited but I felt she understood every word.

We arrived at the ruins of St.Paul dating back the 16th century. This is the history symbol of Macau.
I was amazed to see how from all these years this one wall remained from this great structure. Everywhere everyone was taking pictures just as I was. Everyone wanted a selfie.

Behind the temple was a Buddhist temple from what I could understand of what my friend told me. There were even a few people stopping to pray. 

Near by the church we ventured into a small park at the base of a giant fort. I admired the green foliage as we circled the base. We followed the winding path up the fort to a nice view of Macau. It was such a grim day for a walk now that I look back. I think she brightened the mood of this dreary. day

I found the building of Macau to look much older than those I saw in Hong Kong  aside from the Casinos.

We made our way to the bus stop our next destination was Macau Tower

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Day 3 Breakfast with a Friend

I woke up with excitement. This was the day I was going to meet not one but two of my pen pals. One for breakfast and the other in Macau also known as Asia LOS VEGAS. I woke up early so I had some time. I had some post cards I wanted to send so i decided to seek out a post office. When I exited my hostel on this day it was pouring out, and I had no umbrella. Luckily in Asia umbrellas are used every where. I walked into the first convenience store I could find (this one happen to be a Circle K) bought a couple of snacks and an umbrella and I was on my way.

This was my first "weekday" in Hong Kong so I was able to witness shops opening up and starting business for the day. Every space was utilized. Garages fixes cars people machining in the streets out of a tiny garage. It was fascinating. The city seemed to come alive slowly even on this dismal day. I wish I had taken more pictures of this but I guess I was too engrossed in my awe of the city.

Navigating the post office seemed simple enough... If i knew where I was going. Even with the use of my phone on GPS I seemed to have difficulty. It didn't bother me though, I was happy to explore these streets.I must of walked up and down the same street a dozen times before I found the post office. After mailing my post cards. I still had time so i continued to wander. Periodically finding WiFi to see if my friend had contacted me .

Tragedy struck when i tried to make my way to the meeting point. I went in the opposite direction!.
I was worried and stressed I wouldn't get to meet her since her time was so short. I took this train and that hurrying as fast as I could my heart pounding that I wouldn't make it.

I made it there right as they were done eating. I was deeply saddened that I didn't get to eat with her. However we sat down somewhere else to let me eat something. She was such a lovely girl and her English was really good and Japanese fantastic. I truly wish I had more time to see her.She lead me towards the Macau ferry and I went on my way to Macau where I was to meet another friend.

Waiting Patiently to the ferry
The Ferry to Macau

It is common to wear a mask in public
in Asia

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Day 2 Part 3 The nightlife of Hong Kong

Victoria's Peak was a tourist trap in short,but that is not to say it isn't worth seeing. We made our way up to the observation deck of the Peak. The peak was crowded with people taking selfies (never have I seen so many Selfie sticks in my life). I found a place and I squeezed myself between the crowds of people to see if I could see this view for myself.

The pictures truly do not do this view justice. For the few moments I was up there. The lights dazzled before my eyes. I was almost deaf to the crowds of people surrounding me.It amazed me how all my friends in Hong Kong told me this city of Hong Kong was small. How could it be small? Look at these towering buildings the dazzling lights. This was no Pittsburgh. Even in this late hour ships went back and forth through the harbor in a harmonic fashion.

It wasn't long until my friend became bored and asked to leave. I found myself slightly annoyed. I wanted to enjoy the view live in the moment.After grabbing a snack we made the long journey back down the mountain. Again we twisted and turned down the snaking road.

 We headed towards a place called Causeway Bay.By the the time we made it back to ground level it was maybe 9:30 10pm and the streets were still teeming with people. We continued to walk down through an area I think was called Lan Kwai Fong. We passed bar after bar filled with a number westerners more than I had seen elsewhere in Hong Kong. We stopped in one bar to meet a couple of my friend's friends. They also spoke English. They were preparing to play some music but I didn't wish to stay long.Part of me looks back wishing I had.  

We continued to walk past what looked like a strip club and another strip club and another. I turned to my friend and said "So this is where all the strip clubs are" A woman I want to say mid 50's sitting outside one of these "Gentleman's clubs" Perked up and barded my path. In perfect English  asked me if I was looking for some fun. I was stunned...I didn't know what to say. All I could think was wow  ... is a hooker offering herself to me. But then i blurted out no no thank you and my friend shooed her off saying something in Cantonese. Part of me felt dirty from this encounter but part of me 
couldn't help but laugh.
I had never been to Times Square before I just wasn't expecting
to see it so far from New York
Finally we made it to Causeway-Bay and all I could say was wow. This was a shoppers paradise. The train stations  stop beneath the malls and across the street from one mall is another mall. Store after store. What is interesting with malls in Hong Kong, there are no barriers between the stores. There is also no sales tax here. So when Chinese want to go shopping they come to Hong Kong. We walked into one mall and it was all electronics. Cheap and good quality products. I didn't have any interesting in buying things but it was an interesting sight to see.

It was 11:30 at this point and people were still filling the streets. They carried shopping bags and still people went in and out of all the stores. Even though this was perhaps the dullest time for me wakling in and out of malls. I still had a smile on my face. The lights, the people everything  this city was so alive even at this hour of the night. I thought to myself I have to move to a city like this be where the people are.

Eventually we parted ways and I made the journey home by myself. Exhausted I fell asleep in minutes after hitting my bunk. I was ready for the next days adventure. For tomorrow I would have breakfast with another friend and travel across the water to meet a long time penpal in Macau