Published: May 27th 2012May 25th 2012
I know, I know...that phrase is way over done...but I couldn't help myself :o) This blog is broken up into two parts. Part 1 is the night we arrived and part 2 is our first full day in Hong Kong.
20 hours later, we made it!!! Phew...that's a long plane ride! Luckily, when we landed the whole process of getting off the plane, going through immigration and getting our bags took only about 20 minutes. I'm very impressed w/ Hong Kong's airport, it's clean and easy to navigate around b/c all the signs are in Chinese and English. We decided to take a taxi to go straight to the boat we're staying on in Aberdeen Harbour.
If you've ever been in a cab in NYC you know how crazy the cab drivers are...well I'm here to tell you, HK taxi drivers are straight bonkers!!! Our taxi got cut off by another taxi while getting onto a roundabout, which meant we didn't make the roundabout and had to turn around. Our driver was soo mad that he caught up to that taxi, pulled right next to it and proceeded to shout at the driver as
he threw coins at his car! HK Lesson 1: Coin throwing = Flipping someone off.
We drove past the city on the way to the harbor. From a distance Hong Kong at night reminds me of the movie Matrix. Rows and rows of high rise apartment buildings resembling computer grid, like when Keanu Reeves starts to see everything in code. It's pretty neat. When we arrived in Aberdeen Harbour we had to take a Sampan (taxi boat) to the boat. Aberdeen is not as metropolitan as what we saw on the way, but there are high rises aligning the harbor. It's beautiful on the harbor at night. At the boat we were greeted by Citi, who is the live in maid. She's extremely nice and attentive. We didn't eat anything when we got off the plane, so she made us some toast and tea.
The boat is just as beautiful as the pictures. Bigger actually. Raw stained wood throughout. Our room is the suite up top, which I believe is an addition to the original structure. The second level is the living/dining area and the kitchen. Very nicely decorated with Chinese and Indian influences. The 3rd level is
the master bedroom (where the owners sleep) and three other bedrooms, one for Citi the maid, one for additional guests and one as a TV room. It's amazing how spacious it is! Raelynd's favorite part is they have two cats, Apple and Shiva. They're both big eyed flat faced cats, not sure the breed, but very pretty.
Being that Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead and we just had a 20 hour commute we took showers and went straight to bed.
First full day in Hong Kong! Because of the time change we were all up before 6am, so had a very early start. We had some errands to run, i.e. buy our train tickets to Beijing and a pre-paid cell phone so we could call Logan and meet up. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! You're always going to have your ups and downs when traveling to foreign countries b/c you have no idea where you're going or what you're doing. It's all trial and error.
We took a bus to Central Station to purchase our train tickets. We met some Americans on the bus that made us aware that you have
to press a red button if you want to get off on your stop otherwise the bus would just keep going. The poor things learned the hard way and missed their stop, so they had to take it through it's entire route and back again. We were very thankful for the info! Once at Central Station we asked customer service where to buy our Beijing tickets, they said we had to go to the Sheung Wan station, which was about 10 minutes walking distance.
Central Hong Kong is like Midtown NYC between Madison and Park Ave, but on steroids. I know that's probably hard to imagine, but it's true. There are more stores, more people and everything is at a faster pace. Since we were trying to get to Sheung Wan we didn't browse around, but I truly don't think that's even possible in that area. If you paused at all you we're getting taken out by someone!
When we got to Sheung Wan customer service there said we had to go to Hung Hom station, which is where all the trains that go to China pull out of. Hung Hom is 3 different rails on the MTR
(subway) away….awesome. As we were walking towards the MTR we saw a 7-Eleven where we were told by other guests on the boat that we could buy a sim card that would work on our phone. Our carrier is AT&T and they said it is compatible to the HK carriers. I was weary of this b/c I had already researched that our phone would first have to be unlocked...but who can argue with people that have been visiting HK for years?? Well...now we can! We bought a sim card and sure enough, it didn't work. We went back to the 7-Eleven, who said they couldn't give us a refund b/c we'd already opened it, but we could go to the carrier CLR store in the Central Market where they should be able to fix it. Central Market is another 20 minutes walking from Sheung Wan. When we got there they could do nothing for us b/c the sim card they sold us was not at all compatible to our phone. 3 hours into our day...and we've accomplished nothing!
The CLR store suggested that we buy a pre-paid phone and simcard (the one we already had was not compatible to
their pre-paid phones) for $350HK ($50US). Extremely frustrated, we said screw the phone situation and just use my international phone plan that I got before we left (for emergency use only) for $1.99/min. We figure that we're in HK for only one week and shouldn't have to call Logan too much, at least not $50 worth.
Now to Hung Hom station to buy Beijing train tickets! Hum Hong station is huge, but we were able to find the ticket office easily. Eagerly we got to the ticket counter and shouted, "3 tickets to Beijing on May 31st please!". The ticket clerk immediately shook her head saying, "Trains to Beijing only run on even days this month." WHAT THE WHAT????
And check this out, right after May 31st is June 1st...two odd days in a row!! We had no choice, but to buy tickets for the 30th and cut our HK stay short by one day. Ugh. Oh well, at least we get to see Vicor and RiAnn sooner! Again, this kind of stuff comes with the territory of travel. In the end it's good for a laugh!
Now for the good part of our day...we met up with
Logan!!! If you don't know Logan, he's 6'7 with crazy curly shoulder length hair and the biggest smile on the planet! You can imagine he's not hard to find in a crowd of tiny Asians, lol. We met him in the Sham Shiu Po area, which is where Logan and his fiance Abra study at SCAD University. Sham Shiu Po is like China Town times 10, streets and streets of food stands and shops filled wall to wall of things that nobody really needs. There's also random stands of people selling random things like Space Bags. The lady selling Space Bags even had a vacuum to show how it works while she spouted sales pitches through a headset microphone. It was interesting to hear the Space Bag pitch in Chinese, lol.
Logan took us to SCAD and gave us a tour of the campus. He was a great tour guide giving us a very educational experience! He told us that the building was originally a Juvenile Court House and when SCAD started their lease two years ago one of the stipulations from the HK government was that they keep most of the original features. SCAD being who they are
did a great job intertwining their style with the history of the building. He walked us through the court room which they kept exactly the same, but added some window coverings, a colorful back drop behind the judge's bench and beautiful pillows in the gallery where the general public sits. He also showed us the jail cells, which they turned most of into functional rooms like a conference room, but they left one cell as is. It was cool and creepy at the same time.
The rest of SCAD is more like a college, but covered in art work from current students and alumni. We made a quick stop to meet Abra who was at school working on her presentation for her finals, but unfortunately our introduction was brief due to her studies, so Logan continued our tour. We went to the show room that is currently featuring an exhibition called "Super Heroes" by student artist Michael Scoggins. I loved his work! He basically went old school, drawing Super Heroes in a childlike way on wide ruled paper and then blew it up to 4'x6'. It was like looking at 5th graders notebook, but life sized.
Logan took us to a produce, fish and meat market just outside of Sham Shiu Po. This was the highlight of our day!! The area is not very touristy, so it was truly authentic. The best part is the fish and meat section. Rows and rows of tanks with fish I've never even seen before, crabs, clams, eels and even frogs! In the meat section we saw cow intestines, cow hearts and cow brains! In Tahiti we had cow heart and surprisingly enough it was really good. I don't think I'll be venturing into intestines or brains anytime soon though.
Speaking of food, it is dirt cheap to eat here! Logan took us to one of his favorite spots where every meal was between $30HK-$45HK, which is just around $5US a meal. The entire day for all three of us we spent only $30US on food. Very cool.
Not too bad for a first day! Sorry for the delay. It's taking awhile to upload photos and to be honest find the time to write. We're on day 4 right now and I'm going to try and post a blog about day 2 and 3 tonight. This was a
pretty long blog, which I'll try not to make a habit of :o)
There are more photos below