Wow! I made it to Hong Kong today! and I so wished all of you could be here to experience it with me ! I would never have made it without going with someone from work, though. We started out on a bus ride, and had to transfer twice – no way I could have figured out the Chinese bus tables at the transfer stops. The buses took us to Shenzhen. Then we got separated at the Chinese customs and again at the Hong Kong customs points. Isn’t customs/ immigration is a little like human relationships? do i let you in? do i like you? do i like your politics? what will you offer in return for new cultures, vistas, experiences?
After getting through Hong Kong customs, the efficient (and crowded) Mass Transit Railway (MTR) System is at one’s disposal to go just about anywhere on Hong Kong Island (bottom of map picture) and Kowloon (top part of map). First a few basics about Hong Kong .. it is now a special administrative region of China (handed over in 1997 by the British), they have a different currency from China – the Hong Kong dollar and they speak Cantonese and not Mandarin!
So here goes with a quick run-down of what we did. We stopped at a nice electronics store, and I bought a little handheld Chinese-English translator-computer with a stylus that lets one practice Chinese writing as well (I’ll try to learn just a few characters at a time, I have no illusions about how difficult it is given that it takes a Chinese person 15 years of schooling to learn the written language !). Next we had a nice lunch, dumpling and noodles in a broth for me, and used the MTR to go to Victoria Bay/ Hong Kong harbor where the picture of me was taken (so it’s the Hong Kong island skyline behind me, a little foggy). Then we took a quick Ferry across the water to Hong KOng Island and Samuel went clothes shopping while I went to a department store called Sogo and came away with a stuffed panda bear, a lucky cat piggy bank and two Noritake coffee mugs. The MTR took us back to the border post with Shenzhen, where we again negotiated the two customs entry points. I got taken out of the line (I am sure it was because I was looking very foreign with my lily-white face in the crowd of Asian people!) and had to go get my temperature taken with an infrared scanner before they let me through.
I’ll post a selection of colorful pictures of Hong Kong tomorrow. I couldn’t get enough of the imagery everywhere. I have to go back.