Sunday, November 29, 2009

Feels like Ages since I posted

I have a lot of back posting to catch up on, but I thought to re-cap today as a snap shot. I woke up and found Joan in the hostel and asked if he wanted to go with me to the Christie's auction at the Hong Kong arts center. Rachel, a girl I met the other night, who edits a Chinese Art Magazine, gave me the tip.

And so we went to the art center for the auction, free and open to the public. The auction showed live updates of the prices in Hong Kong dollars, USD, Euro, Chinese Yuan, and Singapore dollars. The first painting went for 6 million u.s. dollars. The next were more tame in the 120,000s or so.
Then we went to the modern art gallery to see the pieces that would be auctioned on Monday. It was a plush setting with people saying things like "We just flew in from Bali", and a free tea/coffee service while you took in the art. The art was amazing, modern, fresh, engaging, and compelling. Here is a list of some artists I liked for later googling:
Kim Dong Yoo -Gene Kelly vs. Frank Sinatra
Hiroshi Kobayashi - Step into the myst
Zeng Chuanxing
Kei Hiraga
Koji Hoyori
Yin Zhoayang
Kim Joen
Kim Jung Sun - When we were young
Hang Hao - My Things
Kosuko Okahara - Ibasyo

After Christie's we went for lunch. I had a noodle soup with Crab row dumplings. Essentially dumplings with bright orange crab eggs inside. They tasted good, like crab. Then I went to Victoria Park to study. A large American man made eye contact and sat down on a bench next to me. He started in on his story: He was hired as a guide for a business man to go to China. But they got turned down at border because he failed to get Chinese visas for the mainland. Now he was stuck in HK, which he didn't like because people don't make eye contact, or smile, etc... and this was really the first time he left the hotel to explore the city. He held a big 16oz McDonalds cup with a coke slurpee inside. I talked to him for a while and then left to go get a hair-cut, and do some light shopping. Later in the evening I met up with more people from the hostel to go out for dinner. The orders got all confused, but the food was good anyway. It was a great time. I love Hong Kong.

Kim Jung Sun - When we were young

On auction at Christie's

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fried Tofu Blocks

Kim took me and another classmate to Sham Shui Po. The restaurant he took us to had the best food I have eaten in HK, and shopping the neighborhood was fun.

The top floor of the wet market, where there are always restaurants...this is like a food court in a mall....

View of the market

Fresh fish, their hearts were still beating.



More seafood

Tofu and bean sprouts

und Camera parts

After parting with Kim, the next day I went to IFC in central Hong Kong, on the Hong Kong island part. Or the "Manhattan" part if you will, where I live. :p

Like a bridge over city rooaddds

Security guard?

Pabst Blue Ribbon with Chinese characters leaning against oranges. Perfect. By the way, the oranges in the wet market were from Florida! I recognized the PLU and everything!

Back on the Kowloon side, in Kowloon Tong. Here is a 4 story Christmas tree. No really, check out the escalators in the background...

Around Kowloon Town. A peaceful mountain "college" part of the city.


There University of Hong Kong where I will apply to attend shortly.

Around Mong Kok in Kowloon

Near Sham Shui Po in Kowloon

They make medicinal teas here for cough and cold, constipation, acne, and other things I forget.
I tried some for cough and cold, it was like drinking a cough drop. The ingredients are turtle shell and herbs. I did feel better afterwards.

Victoria Park nearby where I live.

Victoria Park again with the city buildings watching it.

The My Little Airport Show!
The show was great. Everyone was low key, sitting around drinking green tea. Good scene. Here is a photo of the stage with Nicole and AhP singing.

Ray, who met me at the metro, guided me to the show, translated the Cantonese between songs, and was generally awesome.

My photo with AhP and Nicole of My Little Airport.

A video from the show.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We went to Kowloon Town

On Monday I met up with Amy, who Judith introduced me to and we went to the Hong Kong history museum. There I learned about China the past 100 years, how they turned to communism to throw out imperialism, and then turned to socialism to throw out communism. This is where they stand today.

The museum also contained a history of Hong Kong, a place occupied by both the British and the Japanese. The trip to the museum was followed by the light show (again) and a trip to the night market. Then a trip to the zoo/botanical garden the next day. Here are das fotos:

Hong Kong Street Scene in Wan Chai

Old Skool Violin

Me mit giant statues in the Hong Kong history Museo

So glad I don't have to enter one living in HK

Ladies Market in Kowloon (For men and ladies and everyone)

Statue on the walk of stars

Light show again

The Night Market

Hong Kong is like San Francisco with a lot of hills, so they have movators.

Another Hong Kong city scene

Toys at the indie basement place where I got the My Little Airport tickets

Soy Milk in vending machines instead of soft drinks. This is so how the world should be.

A night scene of Fortress Hill, my neighborhood in Hong Kong

This evening I went to Mong Kok in Kowloon (pronounced Cow-loon) to buy tickets to the My Little Airport show this Friday. There I meet Ray who gives me a high five when he finds out I am going to the Friday show and agrees to meet me at the metro stop and guide me to the show. We talk My Little Airport, mourn the loss of Nicole, and then talk more indie. Turns out he is a sports commentator for Ping Pong. We then talk about the upcoming Asian games to take places in Hong Kong before my cell phone starts ringing. It is Kim (the guy from the airport who I have kept up with via email). He is setting a time to meet tomorrow so he can show me where to shop.

K: where are you now?
P: I am in Mong Kok.
K: Too expensive! I meet you tomorrow. Bring walking shoes, it will be cold, dress in layers. Don't keep your money in one place. Different pockets, don't let the shop keepers know how much you have.
P:Got it.

And so I am lucky to have Kim, possibly the world's most frugal person, as a guide to Hong Kong shopping. For if there is one thing which predominates in Hong Kong it is shopping. In most Western cities you have cafes and bars lining the streets. In Hong Kong you have retail. Electronics, shoes, clothes, food. Sometimes it spills over into the streets. These are the ultimate business people. Not good, not the best, the ultimate. Go anywhere in the world, and you will find a grocery run by Chinese. Frugality combined with respect, dedication, and hard work, help get these guys there. Perhaps their only flaw is that they are too focused on efficiency and customer service. You barely finish your plate and a drink before it is whisked away, and while you could sit at a restaurant for hours after, the whole feel of the culture tells you to do otherwise. Hong Kong is for moving on, ever on. Keeping on. But the people are so friendly and helpful. I met Kim at the airport and now he is meeting me to show me around. I met Ray at the indie record shop and he will meet me also. It is just so nice. Feels like home.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend mit Judith

Friday class ended and one of my fellow students, Alice from Italy, invited me along to meet a friend and see the giant Buddha. The friend turned out to be Judith from Germany, who is currently working in Beijing as an intern for a German engineering company, and was in Hong Kong to renew her visa. Turns out a lot of people working in China come down to Hong Kong for a few days to renew their visas back to China.

In any case, Judith had it in mind to see most of the major sites of Hong Kong within the space of a weekend, and didn't mind having company. Pushing back the hazy feeling that 13 hours of jet-lag can create I was happy to tag along with Julia for a tour that included:

  1. Going to Launtau island and riding a tram up to see a giant statue of Buhdda.

  2. Running to see the nightly light show along the water.

  3. Catching another tram to the peak to see a birds eye view of the city.

  4. Catching a ferry to Macau island to see the Portuguese ruins, try a bunch of snacks, and see the Las Vegas style casinos (plus leave $5 HKD richer)

  5. Going to Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong to streets full of expats and bars

  6. Being the only white people eating traditional dim sum on a Sunday morning

  7. Going to Stanely on the opposite side of Hong Kong island to walk the tourist shops, listen to an acapella group sing Puccini, and take a coffee.

Here are the photos:

Before Buddha buy Hello Kitty Paper Towel...

View from the tram on the way to Buddha...


I felt 57% more enlightened:

Statues give offerings to Buddha...

Buddha's view...

Meine Freundes Alice und Judith:

Prayers at the temple:

Und das temple:

Snap shot of the light show, which is hosted by the sky scrapers in the area...

View from the peak: The "Postcard" photo...

Macau Island from the Ferry:

Street of Macau, packed with people and with vendors giving samples:

The ruins of Sao Paolo, an artifact of Macau's Portuguese past...

Taking a photo from the floor...whaaaat???

The butter crumble cookies they make there...


Happy cakes...

Macau is "little Vegas"?

Not so grand actually...

Judith pointing out the holiday decorations of the snowy weather Macau will never see...

On the way to Stanley:

View of Stanley Plaza...

A mangrove tree...yes...

vaser es schoone.

After all this I say bye to Judith and wonder how she managed to create the job she did in Beijing at the age of 22, and I also wonder how she had the gusto and the togetherness to plan such a weekend...Maybe it is because she is living in Beijing, a place renowned to be bustling and active and accomplishing things at an unprecedented rate? Your environment affects you deeply, make no mistake. Or maybe Judith is a driven person who wants to get the most out of life, and travel surely does it.

Now I feel like I have covered most of the sites of Hong Kong, and I am willing to let any more of them come as they may, while I try to get to know the little neighborhood where I find myself and all the people in it, and if they will laugh a little less as I learn to speak Chinese. :)