16 November 2013

Golden Week Trip to Hong Kong and Macau

Golden Week is a holiday made up by the Chinese government a few years ago to boost the economy. It apparently does its job, because 68+ million people travel then.

I'm glad we avoided that madness since we had already booked tickets to Hong Kong--we'd been told that it would be necessary for my visa (it wasn't).

Hong Kong was amazing. Ready for a zillion photos?

Hong Kong AirBnB photo 2013-10-01102143_zpscf6a6d7f.jpg
I loved the tiny little Airbnb place we found. It honestly didn't need to be any bigger. I like efficiency like that. And being in a place where I liked the decor really boosted my spirits, interestingly.

Hong Kong Sea Goods photo 2013-09-28130511_zpsb1a6dbc6.jpg
The streets are lined with shops full of weird things pulled from the sea.

 photo 2013-09-281405_zpsd439b579.jpg
This temple was pretty cool, but the smoke from incense drove me out after less than a minute.

Hilly Hong Kong photo 2013-09-281420_zpsc250fec6.jpg
The hilly streets reminded us of our neighborhood in San Francisco.

Banyan Tree in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-281330_zps8fc4c996.jpg
Huge banyan trees are allowed to grow on a lot of walls.

Hong Kong photo 2013-09-381335_zpsbbe9b1b3.jpg
Michael couldn't stop taking pictures of restaurants that looked cool.

Useful Computers in Hong Kong Subway Station photo 2013-09-281440_zps2efac62e.jpg
The tourist map we'd picked up at the airport was no good, and we didn't have cheap internet available on our phones, so we were very glad to find these consoles available for 15 minutes of free internet in the subway.

People Follow the Rules in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-031100_zps10434729.jpg
It was a miracle! People followed directions (mostly). No one pushed to get on the subway.

Big Buildings from Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-281515_zpsd3ae2b31.jpg
Parks and streets were obviously taken care of.

Waiting for Victoria Peak Tram in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-281630_zps32ceb410.jpg
We waited in line to get on the Victoria Peak tram for a long time. Guess what? No one almost died of claustrophobia. I didn't get stared at. What is this politeness?

Victoria Peak Tram in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-281645_zpscecc03d3.jpg
Up the mountain we went . . .

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak Tram photo 2013-09-281646_zps5d227df3.jpg
Until a great view started to emerge.

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak photo 2013-09-281705_zps7339bdab.jpg
This is what we saw from the viewing area of Victoria Peak. Wow.

 photo 2013-09-28170616_zps19171556.jpg
This is what people saw when they looked at us while we were up there. ;) The fog/smog makes it look cold, but both of us were fine without jackets.

Greener Side of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak photo 2013-09-28172105_zps2045d475.jpg
This is the view in the other direction!

Posh House in the Hills of Hong Kong photo 2013-09-28171818_zpsaaa29bb8.jpg
Someone obviously very well-off got quite the hot spot for a home. Having people looking at them when they're out on the deck might not be so fun, though. Or maybe they like to be conspicuously rich?

Cute Cookware on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-28173945_zpsfc5b8883.jpg
It is somewhat ridiculous how much time Michael and I spent exploring grocery stores. Sometimes it's exciting to see baking supplies and cheese and cute little pots, okay? And they had cheese!

Night View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak Tram photo 2013-09-28183858_zpsc833da7d.jpg
This is a horrible photo. But maybe it can show you just how steep part of the Victoria Tram railway was.

Hong Kong at Night photo 2013-09-281845_zps8ded770a.jpg
Quite the city.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Subway 
Map in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-29085609_zpsd39dddc5.jpg
Michael was excited to see that the LDS church made it onto the subway map.

Backrub During Church photo 2013-09-29103738_zps5a40637d.jpg
We saw proof that church back rubs do indeed occur all over the world.

Crunching Leaves in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291115_zpsee4b8d31.jpg
Michael finally caught me in the act of crunching leaves. I can't help it.

Hong Kong Mormon Temple photo 2013-09-29110239_zpsef4101e8.jpg
Hong Kong Mormon Temple.

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291135_zps2d857114.jpg
Wong Tai Sin Temple--that sign probably says something about not touching, but apparently everyone else ignores it, too.

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291146_zps462ad8e0.jpg
Very ornate, with respect for Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions.

Fortune Sticks Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291151_zpsddef99e9.jpg
The Wong Tai Sin Temple is especially well-known for granting your wishes--a process called "kau cim." First, you get a cup full of numbered sticks.

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291147_zpsb2e3a855.jpg
Then you kneel down and shake them while thinking of what you desire. I hope it wasn't too intrusive of me to take pictures of these people.

Wong Tai Sin Temple Fortune Tellers in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291145_zps1f6cbfbe.jpg
Whichever stick falls out first is your fortune. You take it to one of these booths, and pay some money, and these professional fortune-tellers will help you know what will happen.

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291148_zps0b2473eb.jpg
Unbelievably and beautifully detailed. Can you imagine touching up the paint?

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291220_zps27e96cbd.jpg
There was also a garden and a pond with coy fish and turtles.

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291200_zps134666ad.jpg

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291222_zps6382fa02.jpg

Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-291235_zps0cc2817a.jpg

Scherenschnitte Cards at Hong Kong Market photo 2013-09-291333_zpsf725a607.jpg
I'm aware that a lot of people love Hong Kong for its shopping, but after walking through a short section of the markets, you start seeing the exact same stuff over and over again. At least these scherenschnitte cards were really nifty to look at. And hey, the people didn't yell at me as I walked by like they do in Shanghai.

Bill for Food in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-29144037_zps30ff2aad.jpg
No tipping in Hong Kong. The bill came with the food.

Shopping in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-292000_zpsd5fbcbd9.jpg
Big, fancy stores. I knew exactly what I wanted to buy, and I finally found it . . .

Coral short-sleeved blouse photo 2013-09-28155921_zps978599d4.jpg
but this woman was wearing it. I should have asked her where she got it; I have done so much googling trying to find something similar, without luck. Maybe I'll get it made at the fabric market.

Street Restaurant in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-29221459_zps5fe2cf3a.jpg
Anyone want some duck?

Street Cook in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-29221453_zpse9595430.jpg
This guy will cook it up for you in his street restaurant.

Street Restaurant in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-29221430_zpsda42e114.jpg
Every thing at this place felt kind of old and grimy, but the food wasn't too bad. The real problem was the smoking that was gagging me. I had to keep escaping out into the rain to breathe.

Hong Kong to Macau Ferry photo 2013-09-301430_zps6556c766.jpg
The next day, we took a ferry to Macau. I got a little seasick.

Clean Macau photo 2013-09-30173333_zpsa8686113.jpg
As soon as we arrived in Macau territory, we both received text messages saying something like, "Welcome to Macau. Don't litter or you will be fined immediately." And indeed, the streets were wondrously clean, and the garbage cans showed obvious signs of smokers following the rules as well.

Macau photo 2013-09-301710_zps35fcc49a.jpg
We didn't realize how tiny Macau was until we got on a bus and then realized that we only needed to go one stop. It was raining a lot, so although this area may be teeming with tourists on most days, it was a ghost town for us.

Technology Center Macau photo 2013-09-301740_zps6bd50338.jpg
This is the Technology Museum. We didn't go in, but we appreciated the cool architecture.

Kun Iam Tong Goddess of Mercy inMacau photo 2013-09-301725_zpsaa05605c.jpg
Not too much farther down the coast we came to the statue of Kun Iam, the goddess of mercy. I love the idea of a female deity and was anxious to find out more about her inside. But there wasn't really anything about her. So I sat down to take advantage of the free wifi and find out more. Look here to see what I read.

 Kun Iam Tong Goddess of Mercy inMacau photo 2013-09-30172400_zps4d4ff322.jpg
 A close-up with one of those artsy filters Michael likes.

Macau photo 2013-09-301820_zps49954624.jpg
We waited and waited for a bus that never came before we decided to start walking. Eventually we ran into buildings that looked like this. It's amazing that I even got one picture of the casino part of Macau, because it interests me so little and I was tired and done by then.

Macau photo 2013-09-30183726_zpsbea8140f.jpg
More proof that Macau is more organized: people actually wore helmets and stopped at stop lights!

Macau photo 2013-09-301844_zpse18453ea.jpg
Senado Square was just more shopping, but the cool Zebra-ish mosaic cobblestones and the Portugese influence were fascinating.

Macau photo 2013-09-30184206_zps99746617.jpg

Macau Fortress at Night photo 2013-09-301900_zps80f59928.jpg
The famous ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Macau Fortress at Night photo 2013-09-301908_zpsfc06bd52.jpg
We walked around this old fort on a hill (Monte Fort?) that is close to the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. The night air was nice, and the lighting mysterious.

Macau Fortress Garden at Night photo 2013-09-30191037_zps02aa735d.jpg

Kilometers/hour Bus Speed Display photo 2013-09-30202337_zpsc6a31054.jpg
The bus we got on to go back to the ferry terminal had a screen that displayed the speed of the bus. Cool.

Ferry Charging Station photo 2013-09-30205745_zps10b1fad2.jpg
Just one more reason to admire Macau--this station had pretty much any kind of phone plug you could ever need, and people felt okay leaving their phones there. Just a few days earlier, I was thinking that this should be a thing at most transportation hubs, and even on buses and such.

Honeymoon-Dessert Deliciousness in Hong Kong photo 2013-09-30225939_zpsea0c7bbb.jpg
Back in Hong Kong, we decided to stop at a dessert shop. I tried durian for the first time. What a weird fruit. It is heavy, hard, and spiky, and it grows on trees. Doesn't that sound dangerous to you? What most people notice about it in the markets is that it smells bad. Once again . . . food that smells bad but tastes good (I liked it). There was also sago pudding with burned rice stuff (my words, not theirs) and Mango deliciousness (also my wording).

Michael's Dad's Alumni Friends in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01123548_zps1c3ed69b.jpg
And, of course, we met up with Michael's dad's friends. They are everywhere in the world. I talked to the woman on my right about her Mandarin courses for a while before I realized she was the author of a book that Joseph had given me. Nice!

Hong Kong Airbnb photo 2013-10-03112343_zpsf5cf6dc1.jpg
The first Airbnb we stayed at wasn't available for our last few nights, so we had to switch to this one, which was great! It was also tiny, and even more cleanly decorated.

Hong Kong Airbnb photo 2013-10-03112152_zps24bf96e3.jpg
If only our bathroom in Shanghai looked like this.

Hong Kong Airbnb photo 2013-10-03112400_zpsbcc6006c.jpg
There's even a kitchen!

Hong Kong Airbnb photo 2013-10-03112417_zps043ef680.jpg

Hong Kong Airbnb photo 2013-10-03112502_zpsadde0f6f.jpg
I wouldn't mind living in such a small space as long as it has such calming decor.

Tram to Big Buddha in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01155121_zps67a2d483.jpg
I'd considered making the hike to the Big Buddha, but the tram was spectacular. This was one of the most memorable parts of the trip.

Big Buddha Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01155542_zpsd306f2af.jpg
There's Buddha.

Big Buddha in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01161237_zps5d427a4f.jpg

Wishing Tree Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01160528_zpsea92ade3.jpg
This is the local version of the Bodhi Tree, where Siddartha Gautama experienced his awakening. This is another good place to ask for your wishes to be granted.

Distances from Big Buddha in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01160852_zps3d95644e.jpg
12,968 kilometers to New York.

Memorial Inside Big Buddha in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01162549_zps585e9263.jpg

Big Buddha contains walls and walls of memorials to deceased loved ones. Again, I hope taking this picture wasn't intrusive. Those are fresh fruits and flowers that are brought to honor ancestors.

Goddesses at Big Buddha in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01163652_zpseda3f036.jpg
More female deities, backed by a huge mountain hidden by the fog.

Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01172830_zpsccc840ac.jpg
Tai O Fishing Village was so interesting and made for some beautiful pictures.

Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01172834_zps8f8da050.jpg
I know this picture is really dark, but for some reason I like the contrast with the one washed out by the sunset.

Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-011725_zps28954c00.jpg
So that's where pearls come from.

Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-011738_zpsda67690a.jpg
95% of everything in the village was pieced together like this. It's crazy to think that these places stay above the water. A lot of the people run shops out of the front room, which seemed too intimate to me. I didn't feel comfortable sitting at someone's table while grandpa watches TV and a little kid runs around. I guess I see the kids being raised in their parents' businesses in Shanghai as well, so I'm getting more accustomed to that.

Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-011735_zps41507f6e.jpg

Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-011740_zps99cbb764.jpg
These pallets are used for drying fishy stuff in the sun and boy, was the smell strong.

Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01175156_zpsc8484e31.jpg
There was garbage everywhere and the tiny houses seemed full to the brim with junk. Michael and I talked about how garbage disposal is a big expense for such a small place that is pretty secluded, and how it's hard for people to let things go when they don't have much. We even wondered if that's a Chinese tendency in general.

Dessert Jelly in Tai O Fishing Village Near Hong Kong photo 2013-10-01191158_zps8688a4a1.jpg
Michael convinced me that I needed to try all three varieties of this jello stuff, and now I've forgotten the flavors of all but one: sesame. It was firmer than American jello--firm enough for the woman serving it to cut it out of a huge pan and flop it into this dish. Not bad, but probably not something I might crave at some point.

Repulse Bay in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021305_zpsc73c8f81.jpg
The next day, we took a bus that was supposed to take us to Repulse Bay. Like in Macau, we misjudged how big Hong Kong is and got off the bus too late, so this may or may not actually be a place called Repulse Bay, but it turned out to be just fine with us.

Repulse Bay in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021300_zps339c2428.jpg

Repulse Bay in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021315_zps9d973556.jpg
Yes, I've gone a little Chinese with the umbrella since arriving in China. I had to in this case because the sun was so overwhelmingly intense.

Repulse Bay in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021325_zps74a88055.jpg

Repulse Bay in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021310_zpse72c9b24.jpg

Repulse Bay in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021342_zps3f8fa53e.jpg

Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021744_zps7c6f198f.jpg
Next stop: Ocean Park.

Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021430_zps8869f0d3.jpg
Roller coasters, yay! After being seasick on the ferry and having not been on a roller coaster since the times when I didn't have a lot of stomach issues, I was a bit scared. Luckily there was a really old Dramamine pill in the bottom of my backpack.

Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021602_zps859d31f4.jpg

Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021705_zps60425573.jpg
Half of the amusement of the roller coasters was the incredible view.

Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021627_zps48fcff62.jpg
No matter how many times it was announced that no umbrellas should be used on this ride, people continued to try to stay dry on a ride that is obviously supposed to get you wet . . . there were people paying to squirt from above. I thought that my light hair would make me a conspicuous target, but I didn't get any direct sprays, so either it wasn't as conspicuous as I thought, or the people spraying were bad aims.

Sunset at Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021738_zps87c65b81.jpg

Sunset at Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021756_zps1dd6ecf0.jpg

Sunset at Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-02180202_zpsbf68e7b6.jpg

Ocean Park Tram in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021746_zps5965dafc.jpg
It started getting dusky around 5:30. We knew the park closed at 7, so we figured we still had some time to make it to the last big roller coaster. I finished up at the pirate ship ride (you know the one) and we headed there, only to find out that the rides close at 6, so we missed it! How disappointing. I guess they figure that the park doesn't really close until they get everyone down the mountain and off of the official property (which is admittedly a huge undertaking).

Ocean Park in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-021830_zps958b09c3.jpg
At least there were some cool water and light shows near the exit.

Great Indian Food in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-022000_zpsd15f2f0f.jpg
To top off a great day, we had some really nice Indian food.

Giant Carrot in Hong Kong photo 2013-10-03125338_zps7b915163.jpg
More grocery gaping shopping.

Beautiful Japanese Store Macau photo 2013-10-03140434_zps6e2863dc.jpg
Beautiful Japanese store called MUJI.

Hong Kong photo 2013-10-03152131_zps1d479283.jpg
One view on the way to the airport.

Hong Kong Airport photo 2013-10-031545_zpsc245e293.jpg

Hong Kong Airport Ceiling photo 2013-10-031555_zps4dba69e8.jpg
Michael took artsy pictures of the airport ceiling.

Heading back to Shanghai was tough. I wasn't ready to get back to sidewalks cluttered with junk, getting nearly run over by scooters, the shoving on public transportation, living in ever-present gold, men making horrible sounds before launching spittle onto the ground, enduring stares, and experiencing VPN-induced internet slowness. At least Hong Kong re-energized us a bit--I'm still determined to find more things that I like about Shanghai.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So cool! Love hearing about your adventures. Glad you found some cheese!