Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day One: Hong Kong Island Part 1

For a fun day trip on Hong Kong island try the escalator!

Mixni and I had decided on a day of rest in Hong Kong before we ventured into China for the all important meeting with her father.  By the time I got back from my tour along the waterfront, she was up and ready to explore.

What can I say about Minxi?

Beautiful Chinese Girl

Charming.  Funny.  A wonderful combination of soft spoken and steel willed.  From early on she and  I had understood that we had that rare type of love where your partner is you best friend.  During the long months on Skype and in chat rooms we had spent as much time laughing as flirting. While I do have to admit that the first few hours after the meeting at the airport had been a little awkward (my cyber love was suddenly very three dimensional) that had faded quickly and by the next morning we took off into Hong Kong, hand in hand.  Hoping for adventure and desperate for good food.  Our travel plan was very detailed of course.  The conversation had gone something like this:

"Are you ready?"

"Just let me get my hat."

"I thought we could go over to Hong Kong Island today."

"Okay.  Do you have the key?"

I'm going to write a whole entry about public transit in Hong Kong so let me just say, don't worry about public transit in Hong Kong.  There are busses and ferries and the subway and taxis and they all take this card called the "Octopus" that  you can buy at bus and subway terminals and also at the hundreds of 7-11s.

We crossed the harbor by ferry (about $0.60) and started walking.  The North side of Hong Kong Island is divided up into business on the water front, shopping at the mid levels, really expensive housing higher up and then forested mountain at the top.

We zigzagged our way up.  There was a walk way that led over the traffic from the ferry terminal several blocks in.  We passed the giant, glass fronted Apple store and a bunch of very high end store fronts from above this way and landed eventually on a bustling side street.  

Here we had the only really boring meal of the trip.  Minxi had the unfailing ability to find the local hangout which led us to one excellent, low priced meal after another.  The lone failing was the very first place we stopped.  It was local but was probably equal to a greasy spoon in the USA and served sort of boring noodle dishes at breakfast.  The dinner menu was laminated into the table top and looked more tempting.

I'd read about the escalator online and pointed us it towards it after breakfast.  It is actually a series of interconnected escalators starting at Des Voeux Rd. on the lower end and ending on Conduit Rd. on the upper.  This roughly bisects the "mid-levels" of Hong Kong Island North.  It's a handy way to get around since the elevation rises about 1000 feet along the way.  Taking it straight up and down takes about 20 minutes but do yourself a favor and get off every few landings.   

Along the lower levels Minxi and I found fruit shops, flower shops, all the hustle and bustle we knew already from Kowloon.  We also found a knick knack shop selling this statue of Mao and the very interesting statute behind him:

chairman Mao and the Rocket penis man
Mao and the Strange Rocket Man

Ummm.  Better living through prostetics?

Anyway, as we traveled on, those shops gave way after a few more flights to scads and scads of restaurants from all over the world.  There seems to be a sort of theme to the whole thing.  One landing was dining at English pubs and Irish restaurants.  The next seemed full of Indian and Pakistani places.  I'm sure, in about 30 minutes you could visit at least five continents worth of food.  Yummy!

We also found an entire street full of art galleries.  It was heavenly.  The modern and abstract art movements are alive and well in Hong Kong.  I was fascinated by the amazing diversity of art coming out of south east Asia.  Some of the art followed traditional themes, some explored new ground; things that I've never seen in the USA.  I've been emailing away to a few of my favorites to see if they'll carry my art.  Wish me luck!

You can see my art here:  The Edge of the Dream 

The higher end of the escalator was not as exciting.  Up there, high end apartment buildings vie for a piece of the sky and most of the shops at ground level seemed to be dedicated to helping you buy or care for your piece of heaven.  

By the time we popped out on Conduit Rd, we were half way up the mountain and in an extremely high class neighborhood.  The cars were all Mercedes or above.  We were actually passed by a Lamborgini Diablo.  Sexy, but, why you need a 600 horse power car in a city made entirely of hills and stop signs, I don't know.  Maybe that guy was compensating for something...Hmmm.

One word of warning.  The escalator does not leave you near much of anything at the top.  It's mostly residential up there and you'll either have to hike to or come back down to anything that's much fun.

Minxi and I hiked over to the botanical garden where we saw the rare and exciting...well,  you'll see.

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