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Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

Hong Kong Wrapup

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.

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OK, so first of all, my story of getting to Hong Kong.

Traveling alone probably wasn’t the best idea.  Neither was flying into Shenzhen (深圳) to save money.  Yes, I saved about US$150 but between my flight being delayed over an hour and not knowing what to do when I got there, I could have easily gotten stuck.  Luckily I got out of it.  Here’s how things worked out:

I got to Shenzhen airport much later than I expected, and when I tried to take a bus into Hong Kong, the map I got was not helpful — again, travelling alone to a place you’ve never been can be an issue.  I tried to call Hong Kong only to discover that my Chinese cell phone can’t call Hong Kong, and though I specifically asked the woman I bought a phone card from if it could call HK (the pay phones in the Shenzhen airport do not take coins), it did not.  I did manage to roust up one HK friend on MSN via airport WiFi, but he couldn’t help besides tell me to take a train.  So what did I do?  First, I got a taxi:

Me: 地铁站 (Subway station)
Driver: 什么地铁? (Which one?) <list of place names I didn’t understand>
Me: 最近的地铁。(The closest subway.)

That got me to the Shenzhen subway system.  From there I was able to find the route to 罗湖 (Luohu) station which is one of the entrance points into Hong Kong, go through customs and immigration (which were apparently in the middle of a big shopping center, was lucky in that I could follow the signs saying “to Hong Kong”) and eventually got onto a train and navigated to Fortress Hill (炮台山) station, which I remembered was close to the hostel I had reserved.

All in all it took me about five hours longer to get into Hong Kong than I had planned, and I missed meeting one of my friends, but now I’m here for a few days, may as well enjoy things.  I’ll do another post later on my impressions of the city.

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Travel Plans

OK, I was holding off on posting this until everything was settled.

Tommorrow is the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. All schools get a week off for this holiday (starting on October first, rather than covering that week, oddly). As such, I won’t have any classes until the 9th. So, I decided to travel to Hong Kong to visit some friends of mine.

I’m not leaving immediately, as I was late getting things arranged and can’t find a place to stay the first few days. Instead, I will be flying to Shenzhen on China Air Lines flight 6327 and then taking a bus on my own into Hong Kong. I normally would not travel alone, but I was unable to find anyone to go to Hong Kong with me (most are going to Beijing or Shanghai, and a lot of the "undecideds" I’ve talked to don’t have multiple-entry visas), and I have friends in Hong Kong that I haven’t seen for several years, and I’m hoping to get one of them to meet me when I get there, or at least show me around a bit (of course, I know I’ll be on my own some of the time, workers in HK don’t get the week off, though mainlanders do).

Anyway, Hong Kong friends, send me an email or MSN if you can (not sure if I can get to facebook even through Tor right now).

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