Sorry for the delay in updating. Last few days have been pretty busy. My last full day in Hong Kong was probably the best. Cherry very kindly took the day off to hang around. We went to the history and science museums and then to the Sun Yat-sen (孙中山) museum during the day, and then after dinner she and I and Summer and Lok Yan went to the Peak to take some pictures of the "night scenery" (夜景). Unfortunately my camera ran out and I had to use Cherry’s for that day, so no pics until I can get them from her (or if you’re following this on Facebook, she may have posted them).
The next day I took a bus to the Shenzhen airport and flew back to Hangzhou, and am now back safely in my dorm (and behind the GFW, unfortunately). I loved Hong Kong, but on the bus to Shenzhen I somehow felt much more comfortable once I was consistently seeing signs written in simplified characters.
General impressions of Hong Kong:
1) Big city. Hong Kong is definitely a large, international city. English is incredibly prevalent, and I saw many non-Chinese on the streets, not just Westerners but Filipinos and others. It also has the culture of a metropolis, as opposed to Hangzhou, which around the university at least feels very similar to Morgantown in some ways. Traffic patterns, both pedestrian and automotive, reflect this. (ex. I had to get used to actually caring a bit more about walk lights.)
2) Language. Mandarin wasn’t very useful or necessary. In Hong Kong there are enough English speakers that a foreigner can almost expect to be greeted by restaurant wait staff, various service personel, and even people on the street in English. That isn’t to say that everyone speaks English, but usually non-English speaking service workers will default to Cantonese, and won’t think of speaking Mandarin to a foreigner, at least not unless it is specifically requested. Announcements are all trilingual, Cantonese, Mandarin, English, in that order — though signs generally use Mandarin (written in traditional characters) usually paired with English or with romanized Cantonese pronunciations.
3) British influence. I saw bits and pieces of British influence throughout. Cars drive on the left side of the road, the coins some similarities to British coinage (I even saved an old one with a picture of the Queen on it), and I saw several signs referring to "King’s XXX" such as King’s Road (translations made this even more clear, using the term 英皇 — literally "English emperor"). But I think at it’s core Hong Kong really is a Chinese city, albeit with a unique colonial history and a measure of independence that set it apart.
In any case, I hope to be able to go back to Hong Kong some day and see some of the things I missed both through personal stupidity and lack of time.