Published: October 30th 2009October 30th 2009
Since my visa for China was set to expire, I needed to make a trip to Hong Kong and apply for a Chinese working visa. For those who aren't up on the odd visa procedures here in China, Hong Kong is a bit of a loophole in the Chinese visa system, where people can get a visa quickly provided they have the necessary documents, government approval, and..... Well, I guess it isn't so easy.... But it's easier than waiting for a few months for the PRC government, or not being able to get one at all.
My route for this trip was to go from my city of Huzhou, to the provincial capital of Zhejiang, Hangzhou, by bus. Then I could fly from Hangzhou to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, which is cheaper than flying directly to Hong Kong. From here, it is possible to take buses to the city of Hong Kong. Once in the city of Hong Kong, the best transportation within the city is generally through the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), which is remarkably fast, affordable, and easy to use.
As for actually finding your way within the city, that's a bit more difficult at first. Hong Kong
is not only politically separate from the mainland, but it has an entirely different culture, history, and dialect. Cars drive on the left side of the road, people speak English with a British accent, electrical outlets are the UK variety, and some of the coins even have pictures of Queen Elizabeth. Perhaps a good way to describe Hong Kong is to say that it has a very international culture. Most people in Hong Kong are as familiar with western culture as many westerners, and the incomes are pretty similar too.
Since I only stayed in the city for a few days, it doesn't pay for me to describe that much about it, but the food culture is pretty interesting. In particular, "dim sum" -- the light dishes that Hong Kong is known for. Dim sum places are very easy to find, and some places will even have a guy making his pitch to the crowd of people. These guys are pretty smooth and confident, handling all the money and communication at the same time. As for the food, it's pretty good, but of course not all that healthy. Worth mentioning is how much garlic some restaurants use in their
dishes. In a meal of pig stomachs and onions, there was so much garlic that it made my mouth go numb (I didn't know that was possible, but apparently so?). I tried to finish it, but eventually I could barely feel the water I was drinking, and I knew that it was time to give up.
For most of my trip, I was accompanied by two other foreign English teachers who also needed to get their working visas in Hong Kong. Fortunately, we were able to stick together for a good part of the trip and to see some of the sights in the city. Notably, we went on a tram ride to the peak of a mountain, on which we could take some pretty neat photos of Hong Kong from a high altitude. We also went to Lantau Island, a part of Hong Kong that is home to the Tian Tan Great Buddha, a huge seated copper statue around 110ft in height, proportionally bigger than the Statue of Liberty. Just seeing such a massive statue in the distance is quite unnerving, actually. The associated temple, Po Lin Monastery, also has a great deal of impressive artwork, in the
form of sculpture and paintings.
Despite some of the cool experiences I had in Hong Kong, I am certainly glad to be back in Huzhou. I prefer Zhejiang province and the culture of mainland China in general, actually. When I was in Hong Kong, I felt like I was just in a huge china town in America, but mainland China seems more Chinese, and I think that is a good thing.
There are more photos below