Sunday, May 27, 2007

Out and about in Hong Kong

Rainy Sunday afternoon
in the City of Glass (and skyscrapers)
that is Hong Kong -- or, at least, its Central District

Earlier this week, I received an e-mail from a friend in Malaysia asking me whether I've managed to check out all of Hong Kong yet. Reading it, I wanted to laugh. This isn't just because my work hours have been on the long side -- though, in mitigation, my job does allow me to get out and about quite a bit; e.g., I expect to be out of the office, even if at work, for much of tomorrow -- but, also, that Hong Kong may well be larger than many people, including her, realize. Additionally, there just is so much to see and check out here.

One reason for this is the incredible density of the place -- or, at least, the parts of Hong Kong that I now spend the bulk of my time as well as have come to know best over the course of my previous visits to the Fragrant Harbour. And it's not just that there are many buildings wedged into spaces in Hong Kong where in more land-rich territories, there'd only be one or two but also -- and this is something I'm still having to train myself to realize and recognize -- that they are far more likely to be multi-storey edifices (many of them veritable skyscrapers) than not.

For another, Hong Kong is not as small as many people think. And while I do think that most people know full well that this 1,104 square kilometers of territory is bigger than, say, Penang or Macau, they may not realize that it's actually twice the size (in land and population) than Singapore. Nor, for that matter, that Hong Kong (SAR) comprises not only Hong Kong Island and Kowloon but also the New Territories and a bunch of other islands -- one of which, Lantau, is twice as large as Hong Kong island.

For a third, Hong Kong is the kind of territory where the film buff but, also, culture vulture, foodie and beer geek will find many places of interest, to spend time in, hang out, etc. For example, I've viewed five movies (Herman Yau's Gong Tau and Whispers and Moans; Umizaru 2; and Single Blog and Kidnap -- two local offerings which aren't officially out in theaters yet) in cinemas in the past ten days. (And it would have been six films if it didn't turn out to be the case that the screening of the Li Han-Hsiang offering that I wanted to see at the Hong Kong Film Archive this afternoon hadn't been sold out way before I got over to Sai Wan Ho!)

Over on the culture vulture front: Two Saturdays ago, I was privileged to be among the opening night attendees of the Hong Kong Repertory Cinema's From Sunset to Sunrise; and yesterday evening found me in the audience enjoying the concert given by France's Poum Tchack over at the Sheung Wan Civic Centre, an arts center improbably located in the same building as a wet market! (Message to those who think that Hong Kong is a cultural desert: Believe you me when I say that I've lived in places which make Hong Kong feel like a veritable cultural oasis that a long parched moi is now supremely delighted to be in!)

And on the foodie front: suffice to say for now that Hong Kong reputedly has some 10,000 restaurants and I've only eaten in one place more than once since moving here on the first of this month!! Additionally, as far as drinking opportunities are concerned, suffice to say that last night, I had my first gin martini in ages -- not least because I usually prefer vodka martinis along with draft beers... ;) -- and it tasted very good indeed. :)

Not that I spend that much of my time eating, never mind drinking. For often, I just feel compelled to just be out and about -- not just outside of my apartment or workplace but also in any one permanent physical space. Put another way, I really do love Hong Kong's public transportation system(s) and -- contrary to how its plethora of crime dramas can lead one to think otherwise -- how safe it is. (So safe, in fact, that women as well as men thinking nothing of walking through such as Victoria Park after midnight!)

Put yet another way: After four years in Malaysia, where the public transportation ranges from inconvenient to downright abysmal, I feel like I have legs and a license to roam again. As an example: this afternoon, after having my original plans of spending the afternoon at the Hong Kong Film Archive thwarted, I decided to roam around the island instead. Yes, it was raining, but this just meant that instead of walking and/or using the tram, I'd just hop on buses and pop in and out of buildings instead.

So, from Sai Wan Ho (where I did at least manage to enjoy a nice noodle lunch for a HK$14 -- and this included a packet chrysanthemum tea drink!), I took one of those nice double-decker buses whose upper deck affords good views into Central and spent some time exploring the ifc mall for the first time. (Verdict: Okay to look at at least once but generally too rich for my blood!)

Then, having bored of it quicker than I thought I would, I walked down into the large bus station at the bottom of Exchange Square and made an off-the-cuff decision to take another bus over to
Aberdeen, famed for its Jumbo Floating Restaurant (the setting for such as the climactic scenes of God of Cookery) but a place I hitherto had never visited!

Finally, after spending a couple of hours exploring its city center, I hopped on yet another double decker; this time, one that took me back to my home time for dinner (HK$23 -- so, yes, here's another myth debunked: i.e., that everything in Hong Kong is ultra expensive!), which I opted to have in yet another neighborhood eatery which I had previously not yet tried!!

All in all, I'm thinking that my feelings for Hong Kong may well be akin to Samuel Johnson's for London. And should you be uncertain as to what those are, here's pointing out that Mr. Johnson it is who has been credited with having memorably asserted that "
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life..." ;b


Willow said...

Hi Ytsl:
Missed you. Glad to see blogs from you again. My blogs, otoh, have slowed. So busy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ytsl,

By the time we meet again in Hong Kong, I do not know in this fall or next year, you will be my guide. I am glad to know you are doing well. And I think you have a great chance to see Brigitte Lin, at least bumps into her, in near future, because of your job and well, condenation of Hong Kong. Please say hello for me.

Anonymous said...

Wow, if I wasn't so in awe of your now living in Hong Kong and so thoroughly enjoying reading your latest blog I might be green with envy. Green isn't a good color for me so please continue writing about Hong Kong. And more picts please.

YTSL said...

Hi Willow --

Have been checking your blog. Glad you made it to the SF screening of "Heavenly Kings" and you met dear Daniel Wu and crew... ;b

Hi Akiko --

Let's see how things go. Am still prone to taking everything one day or week at a time (i.e., not for granted). :)

Hi sbk --

All I can say is that nary a day passes without my thinking that sbk would like this, she would like that, I've got to remember to tell her this, etc. Miss our phone chats. And I will be a better e-mailer soon (I hope!).

Anonymous said...

It's great to read about your daily life and adventures in HK. Keep it coming!

You do certainly make Hong Kong sound appealing.

eliza bennet said...

I'm so happy for you :) And like Akiko san, I certainly do hope that you'll meet Brigitte!!

Good to know that you are enjoying Hong Kong and I hope that you'll keep doing that for a loooonnnggg time.

Will be on the lookout for your new posts.

YTSL said...

Hi Alejna --

I'll try to keep the reports coming. Bear in mind though that if they don't come that regularly, it's either because I'm working hard or playing hard out there in Hong Kong... ;)

Hi "eliza bennet" --

I know this will strike some of you as funny but I'm not sure that I want to meet Brigitte. Among other things, I'm just sooooo very afraid that the experience would cause me to have a heart attack or to turn into a complete idiot.

As it is, this afternoon, I met someone whose film work I respect a lot and even though I think I kept my cool during the interview, I happened to check how I looked after and found that my face was so flushed that I looked like I had been drinking quite a bit or something along those lines! ;(

Willow said...

Turning into an idiot in front of a favorite star is inevitable. Happens to the best of us. You should embrace it. haha. I may as well have been speaking yiddish with Daniel and his crew...then I might've sounded more intelligent than what I managed to yammer out. Ugh.

GoldenRockProductions said...

On my last trip, I met up with a friend in Causeway Bay, and we ended up walking all the way up to North Point on King Rd.. It surprised me because 4 MTR stops seemed like such a long distance to me, when the truth is that it felt like just a 30-minute walk.

However, I can't see the same experience happening in Kowloon except maybe up Nathan Road. But it's usually so crowded that it might not be so nice to walk down anyway.

YTSL said...

Hi again Willow --

"Turning into an idiot in front of a favorite star is inevitable. Happens to the best of us."

So...resistance may be futile? ;D

Hi goldenrockproductions --

Some MTR stops are closer to others than, well, other ones. E.g., yes, the Tin Hau and Fortress Hill MTR stations do seem especially close to each other. Ditto the ones for Admiralty and Wan Chai.

Over in Kowloon, the Jordan and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations aren't too far apart either. Ditto those for Mongkok and Prince Edward.

Try walking on streets parallel to Nathan Road when there. They're often a lot less busy and, as far as the Hong Kong movie minded are concerned, often quite a bit more interesting too. :)

Jordy said...

Wow! That was really well written! I felt like I was being taken on a tour of a place I've never seen (but would LOVE to (^__^)). Great work!

steve said...

So, what's your opinion on the Herman Yau stuff? :)

YTSL said...

Hi Jordy --

Glad you enjoyed the entry. And more than BTW, Hong Kong *really* is a good place to visit... ;)

Hi Munin --

Go here to read my reviews of "Whispers and Moans" and "Gong Tau" (and "Single Blog" as well):-

Enjoy? Hope so! :b

Mimi Lenox said...

We don't have a peace globe participant from Hong Kong. Would you like to be the first peace globe to fly?

An invitation from Mimi…….To: Saturday Photo Hunters
Many bloggers will be flying Peace Globes in the blogosphere on Wednesday, June 6, 2007. It is BlogBlast for Peace day - the second annual event. Please consider using your blog voice and creative influence on this day to participate. The theme for June 2 is ART - perfect for creativity with a peace globe perhaps? You can find more information about the movement at Mimi Writes or BlogBlast for Peace. I wanted to make you aware of the event. I really enjoy looking at your photographs on Saturdays. or
Thanks and peace!

YTSL said...

Hi Mimi --

I think you invited me some time before -- and I accepted -- but thanks for the reminder closer to the date. :)

just me said...

Hi hi,

Glad to read that you really seem to be having a fantastic time in HK. Although, I actually never doubted the fact that you'll be happy there. =) I've been busy with work too and clearing up a lot of the work that piled up during my ten day trip to China. I'll be off to Vietnam at the end of next week and looking forward to that... although not looking forward to the ton of work I'll have to take care of before and after the trip. =( Actually, I really have nothing to say today.... heh heh... so just rambled on about myself. Take care and have fun at work etc. =)


YTSL said...

Hi "just me" --

"I actually never doubted the fact that you'll be happy there. =)"

Well, living in one place can be different from visiting. So I had my worries but, yeah, Hong Kong's proving to be all -- and maybe much more -- that I had hoped it would be as a place to live. :)

As for you: Wah, lots of holidays any plans to visit Hong Kong? :b