Monday, May 31, 2010

Hongkie Panky

Before I came here, I wasn't so receptive of the idea of spending 3 weeks in crowded Hong Kong. I was kind of hoping that I can even sit it out altogether. The night before I flew here I even sprained my ankle stepping accidentally into a hole, which dampened the mood further. But soon enough I found myself in Chek Lap Kok airport, without the usual excitement and anticipation that usually followed me whenever I went travelling.

Checked into the hotel, and found that I got a nice cosy room which brightened me up a bit. However the busted ankle just saw me sleeping the first Sunday off while some of the guys went out and about, taking in the new city experience.After we're done with business on Monday, I forced myself to walk around the surrounding area for a bit just to see what's Kowloon all about. I've heard many things about it. Noisy, dirty, crowded, polluted, the works. Guess what, I was pleasantly surprised that it's not as bad as some people made it sound like. Sure it's noisy and crowded and polluted (as you would expect from a city like this) but it's not dirty at all. A trivia point, I've not seen a single fly yet - which is a miracle by my standards since I've since walked practically everywhere between Mongkok to Tsim Sha Tsui to Causeway Bay to Central. Even the most dodgy looking eateries (a la Jalan Alor) is clean.

The toilets in the malls and stores are spick and span, people don't spit everywhere and they actually do use the trashcans, they use the pedestrian crossing diligently 95% of the time, cars actually stop to let people cross at said crossings, public transportation is wonderful with it's frequency, punctuality and sheer network (you can walk from one station to the other, something like the Tube) of it. The pavements are wide enough, and there's even underground network of tunnels connecting many malls, MTR stations and various locations that you can still walk around even if there's a typhoon blowing hard outside.
The local folks seemed pretty assured of their police force, one guy Vincent assured me that in HK the cops usually arrive very quickly whenever there's a crime that sometimes it seemed impossible. I even saw a demonstration of that when a number of guys (immigrants I guess, Indians I suspect from the language) were about to get into a brawl. In no time at all 5 (FIVE!) police vans arrive to defuse the situation. No wonder the Hongkies are so confident.

The food is expensive and halal eateries are scattered around the area, though you must really look for it. Shopping for electronic gadgets and clothings are amazingly cheap (usually 30-50% cheaper than prices back home for the same item), and this is in proper stores and not the dodgier neon-lighted shops which are usually cheaper but can also scam you out of your cash if you are not careful. I guess I'm even luckier than I don't get harassed by salesmen looking for tourist money since I look pretty much like a local, thank God for the chinese genes!

I've seen the much talked about light show at the Harbour, took the famous Star Ferry over to Central, did my shopping in Mongkok and Causeway Bay, rode the tram up to the Peak for the amazing night view of the city. All the must do stuff, done. Come Saturday I'll be hopping on a ferry to get me to Macau for the sights (and a flutter or two, perhaps?) and sounds and tastes (Portuguese egg tarts y'all!), Sunday is yet to be decided.

Hong Kong has so far been a city of wonders for me, and I'm loving every second that I've been treading the pavements walking in and out of small alleys onto busy high streets and ducking into the odd MTR or two. If you've not been here, I suggest you make plans to do so. Come with an open mind, and you might just fall in love too ;)


idya said...

thx for the short summary. survey kn tempat2 shopping yg menarik plis.. :)

will be going there next year for a family trip

The Banker said...

idya: tempat shopping mostly aku dh khatam (sbb tuh la wallet aku pon dh nipis, padahal baru start of 2nd week, haha)

nanti aku balik la kita story pjg lebar, malas nk type, hehe

MiShi_Ka said...

hong kong is simply a wonderful city...i love it! enjoy and dont forget to shop at h&m...there's a malay restoran at Lan Kwai Fong..up the hill paling hujung on the right...u can go for teh tarik if u suddenly miss home...

The Banker said...

haha yeah, was talking to a gwailo the other day and he told me that there's a roti canai joint in lam kwai fong..funky stuff since lam kwai fong is akin to bangsar, haha.

h&m, checked (but not much for men). i just love the supercheap and amazing selection of shoes/sneakers here in hk, heaven!

cacah said...

wah... best best.... ;)

Miss Aida said...

Sounds good so far - I've got a lot of friends who go to Hong Kong to shop, it's not surprising that they have a certain standard to keep to then.

The Banker said...

cacah: it is ;)

aida: well, electronics and clothings (including shoes) are pretty cheap over here so no surprise that people hop on the 4-hour flight just to shop. i almost went crazy when i saw ralph lauren had a sale up to 40% off, haha