Jet Setting in Hong Kong

At an outdoor meat market. No ice or refrigeration. Just fresh stock every day.
Fish market. Same info as above. This is why I like living close to water. Fresh food.
Evening in downtown Central.
An Egg vendor displays his fresh duck eggs. Mmmm, looks good.

Two shots of the skyline. The first looking over the stadium in Central HK island, the second looking over Kowloon on the mainland.
Indulging my shopping side, a bag worth as much as the camera I shot it with at a display in Louis Vuitton.
Lunch hour near the stock exchange. People everywhere.

The mysteries of Asia are one degree less mysterious, after having spent the past two days in Hong Kong. It was a quick trip, with the main goal to attain my working visa.

I flew out of Hangzhou on Sunday night. Thanks to a typhoon in Hong Kong, my 6:30 pm flight turned into a 10:30 flight. This put me into HK airport at 1 am, an hour in customs, 20 minutes to sort out transport to the city and one expensive 40 minute cab ride and I finally made it to my hotel at a little before three am.

I awoke at 7am after a wonderfully short 4 hour sleep so that I could go stand in line at immigration. I was there at 8:30, doors open at 9 and at the longest point, there was close to 500 people all waiting to get a visa. Luckily the vast majority of them were behind me.

I am not going to say too much about the acquiring of the visa, as it is simply a tale of paperwork and endless lines.

I will talk about something though that most males just can’t get into, Fashion.

I thought Toronto has a booming fashion scene. And for all intensive arguments, in North America it does. It, however, can’t come anywhere near the magnitude of Hong Kong. I spent much of my time in the shopping district near Central. Here you can find street markets with famous brand knock-offs for pennies on the dollar. Pick a brand, the more costly the original, the more prolific the fake.

For those with money to burn, a quick jaunt to IFC and any of the connected buildings, you will find the mecca of fashionista styles. A quick run down of the stores reads like the credits of Fashion File with Tim Blanks.

From the well known like Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and versace to the more underground brands for the die-hard label followers.

In the end, I walked away with some new shirts from the street market.

As many people know. I like watches. I like all sorts of watches. What many don’t know is that I have a bit of a fetish for watches. I have a box of them in Canada. Some designer, others run of the mill. Nothing really that great other than a nice Philippe Starck.

Add to that now a killer Tissot. Automatic winding, mechanical, big and not cheap. I indulged. I had to. I was in HK and the mood just got to me.

Two days is HK is not nearly enough time. What I did learn in that short trip is that HK is probably my favorite city in the world at this point. I look forward to going back with more time and more money…

Upcoming Travel

Tomorrow I head to Hangzhou for a quick day trip. This isn’t anything special as I can jump on a local bus and be there is 40 minutes. The trip is to get some paper work that I need for my trip to Hong Kong on Sunday. Yep, I am off to finalize my work visa. That means a quick trip to HK. I fly in on Sunday afternoon, stay for all Monday, half of Tuesday and jump a train back to Linping finally getting back on Wednesday morning. Quick trip, but it is just a paper chase.

Now onto some things that I have learned in my 45 days of being here…
1) Durian REALLY stinks. It is a mix of raw sewage and cat feces. I am not sure how the locals eat the stuff, but they do as I can smell it everywhere.

2) I now cross the street one lane at a time. That is just the way it is done here.

3) It takes about 30 days to start thinking financially like a local. Now when I see a Dolce and Gabbana t-shirt, I no longer think “Wow, what a deal, that’s only like $3” I now think “Holy crap 21 Yuan is so much”

4) People LOVE foreigners. Or at least to stare at them and take pictures. Ok, some do seem to really like us. Or at least they are really friendly. More on that later.

5) Chinese beer is really weak, so they make the bottles ridiculously big. 3% and 750 ml. So I guess it evens out.

6) It rains a fair bit in the spring.

So onto my story about friendly people. I was walking to my apartment one evening last week. I was approached by a young kid on a bike. I immediately see that he is wearing one of the trademark school uniforms. He says hi, we make some small chat about where I am from, how long I have been here. He then tells me that he is applying for University in USA. He asks me all sorts of questions about University applications. I tell him what I know. He then asks me is I would proof read his application letter. I was in a good mood so I gave him my e-mail address. He soon emails me, I proof his application, and think that is the end.

I soon get a reply and a phone call from Frank graciously thanking me and asking me over to his families house for supper. Never one to pass up a meal, I accept.

Not to draw anything out, the meal was amazing. His Mom prepared a traditional meal with SO many different dishes. There was duck, bamboo, beef, rice, fish, beans, cucumber, egg and more. His uncle cracked a bottle of wine. We ate like kings.

China rocks.

Loyalist Sweeps OCNA

I decided to take a walk up Linping Park on Monday. The park is a 100 meter hill that has a temple on the top, an amusement park and zoo on the side. This is no little park…

This is the amusement parks merry-go-round. I initially thought the park was abandoned as there was no one there (so I thought) and the trees were rather overgrown. Turns out it IS open and people did start showing up.

A couple looks over downtown Linping near the bull statue near the half way point of the climb to the top.

Don’t show this to Gord, my Photoshop teacher, it is a terrible example of a stitch and color matching job. It does show downtown Linping though, or most of it anyway.

What it is about watching the rain at night is a busy car and pedestrian traffic area that makes me feel like writing? I will save you all from that though. I do think that the rainy season has started here. Last night one hell of a storm rolled through, thunder and lightning, real close, real loud. The concussion from the thunder was so great that it was setting off car alarms.

In another note, I would like to brag for a minute. The contest that I was nominated for, well I won first place! Feels good. Too bad that there is no big cash prize…

How to Stand Out Even More

So today I decided that I needed another means of transportation. Enter my new skateboard. To get my new deck, I had to once again take the K-509 bus to Hangzhou.

If anyone has ever been on the number 16 bus in Saskatoon during rush hour, well that has NOTHING on the K-509 to Hangzhou. First off, I tried to catch the K9 from my apartment to the South Bus Station. No dice. The bus that pulls up just keeps on driving as the thing is clearly packed to the gills. I decide to walk.

20 minutes later I get to the terminal and try jumping on the K509. Well the first bus was too full so I decide to grab the next one. The second that the doors are open, it is a sea of people all rushing to get a seat. I am not one of the lucky ones. 40 minutes of standing, having zero personal space, and funky smells (Durian anyone?)

I get to Hangzhou, I find the store thanks to Pipi’s directions and 15 minutes later I walk out with an Element Deck, Thunder Trucks, Spitfire wheels, clear grip tape and all the hardware I need for four wheel fun.

Now with all the parts, I walk over to West Lake to assemble my new toy. Well in the first five minutes, there is a crowd of over 100 people all watching me put my deck together. This is something that I have gotten somewhat used to.

It doesn’t matter what I am doing, I draw a crowd. I guess being a 6’3″ white guy in a sea of short Asians you have to expect people to look at you. However, people here have no concept of subtlety. If they are interested, they will stare, take pictures and flat out just start talking to you.

Once again, I had my picture taken. This time though, rather than doing it covertly, the person came up, asked if he could get his picture taken with me and after I said sure, he had his friend take our picture. I just don’t get it…