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Living in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a great city. It is compact, packed with people, friendly, clean, modern yet parts are ancient, has gigantic buildings and skyscrapers next to hiking trails and mountains. It is an unusual place indeed! Oh, and did I mention English is like a second language here? So getting around is a breeze since there is almost always an English translation from everything from street signs to announcements on the mass transit system. They even have an ultra modern library system which I'm using right now! We like it so much we decided to live here (for a month) before heading on to mainland China.

We are having a great time. It is nice to just chill out a bit and just explore one place for awhile versus hurrying through the sights before rushing off to the next place like we did in Vietnam. We are renting a small service apartment for a month which has a kitchenette where we can actually cook some of our own meals. This is nice not only because we get to eat some of the things we have been craving from back home but also allows us to save some money. HK is not exactly the cheapest city in Asia in fact it is one of the more expensive cities but as we have found, if you are willing to eat local food compared to western food then you can still dine rather cheaply. The exception here is McDonalds. You can get a value meal for $4 here just like in the states. We have dined at McDonalds twice already.

Here are some of the things we have done in Hong Kong...

We went to a movie. OK, that may not sound like a big deal to you but to Dave and me - big movie goers back home - it was AWESOME! The thing about seeing a movie in HK is that you get an assigned seat so you don't have to arrive early. Just walk in a minute before start time and your seat is waiting for you. The experience was not five star like what we experienced in Bangkok but was extremely nice. We saw the movie Hancock and agree with every critic and probably most people who saw this movie - the first half is great.

We dined on some delicious authentic Chinese food, which was surprisingly light and fresh. It wasn't heavy, deep fried, thick or saucy like much of the Chinese food we are used to back home.

On Wednesdays in HK, a bunch of museums offer free admission so this past Wednesday we made our way to the Hong Kong Museum of Fine Arts. They had ceramics dating back to 2000 BC - just gives you an idea on how ancient this civilization is. We walked around the waterfront taking in the views and enjoying the sites. There are a lot of Olympic decorations everywhere from the huge Olympic ring symbol on the museum to the Olympic mascot statues. There are also stickers throughout the city promoting the Olympics.

I got a much needed hair cut. It’s been six long months since my last. I went to this place I found recommended on an "expats in Hong Kong" website. It wasn't very fancy but the price was right. I had a shampoo, cut, and style for about $20 which is excellent in this town and also excellent compared to what I paid back home. The shampoo I had at this place was like no other shampoo I have ever had in my life. The woman scrubbed my head over and over to where I thought my scalp would start bleeding. When I thought she was done she scrubbed it all again. She would take her fingers and scrape up and down on all parts of my head fast and hard. I didn't say anything to her since I wasn't sure how much English she knew and I figured she must know what she is doing. After that shampooing I don't think my hair has ever been cleaner. I won't have to wash it for days. Of course, the first thing the hair dresser said to me after touching my hair was that he needed to thin it out - "too much hair." Boy did he ever thin it out - he went at my hair with scissors of fury. I ended up with a great cut and he took a massive amount of weight off my head. After he was finished he said "much better" and he was "glad he could help me out." It is a cool experience to get this sort of mundane task done in a foreign country.

We saw the Hong Kong Festival of lights. Someone came up with the great idea to do a light show every night to music using the massive amount of skyscrapers and buildings on Hong Kong Island. To see it you have to go to the other side of the bay - Kowloon - and just hang out at the harbor. It is a must see in HK.

We went to the HK botanical gardens and zoo and saw lots of primates and birds. This patch of green is definitely needed in the middle of this concrete jungle.

We still continue doing things every day - like today I'm in the HK Central Library which is the big daddy library. Since Dave isn't with me to remember to take pictures. I don't have any pictures but it is big and open. I also have been to several temples which are dwarfed in between the huge skyscrapers.

Here is a bit more info on HK...

Hong Kong is made up of islands and a tip of the mainland. Dave and I are on Hong Kong Island which is where the banking center is and is considered the center of Hong Kong. The service apartment we rented is on the 4th floor in an old Chinese Tenement building located in the happening Lan Kwai Fong area. We literally walk out of our building onto the street where there are hundreds of restaurants, bars, pubs, stores and people bustling about. There is both a Haagen Dazs and a Ben Jerry's within 30 seconds of our front door. Our apartment does not face the street so we hear very little street noise - thank goodness. We are only a 5 minute walk to the central transportation hub as well as hundreds of shops, several major malls, and on and on - it is really fun. Kowloon is a major part of Hong Kong and is located just across the bay from Hong Kong Island and is where most of the museums are located. To get to Kowloon it is short ride on the MTR which is the mass transit system here (subway). We bought Octopus cards (like the locals) which allow us a discount and to easily hop on and off most of the public transportation. You can take the MTR or you can also ride the Star Ferry across the bay which we did once. Hong Kong Disneyland, which we will visiting at some point, is actually on another island called Lantau. There are several more islands also. I hope to get to some of these other areas before we leave Hong Kong.

One unexpected thing about Hong Kong is the number of Philippine women who live and work here. Hong Kong has over 130,000 Philippines. A lot of the women are house keepers, care takers, and baby sitters. They work for extremely low wages so pretty much everyone in Hong Kong has at least someone who comes over once or twice a week to clean. These mostly women have one day off a week and it is Sunday. Since most live with the family they work for in a very small room, they head to the streets and parks of Hong Kong on Sundays to enjoy their day off. They are everywhere on Sunday. They spread out on blankets and eat, drink, sing, paint each others nails, play cards, just basically enjoy their day off. There will be rows and rows and rows of women along the sidewalks just relaxing and having a good time. It is quite a sight.

Dave will be uploading some photos soon. Hopefully sometime this week.

Till next time,
Lynette & Dave

lschimpf@gmail.com
dbuck242@yahoo.com

Posted by schuckley 23:36

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