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 my colleague from work, though. We started out on a bus ride in Dameisha, and had to transfer twice. There is no way I could have figured out the Chinese bus tables at the transfer stops. The buses took us to Shenzhen, and 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 the offer of new cultures, new vistas, new experiences? (Money! I guess).
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. The written language is the same as in mainland China, but 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, dumplings and noodles in a broth for me. The MTR got us 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 the short Star Ferry ride across the water to Hong Kong Island. My colleague Samuel went clothes shopping while I went to a department store called Sogo. I 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 was called out of the long line (no doubt because I was looking very foreign with my lily-white face in the large crowd of Asian people). My temperature was taken with an infrared scanner before they let me through.
I’ll post a selection of colorful pictures of Hong Kong tomorrow. It was all a little overwhelming and I couldn’t get enough of the imagery everywhere. I will have to go back.