Going Vertical in Hong Kong

Jumping from Vietnam to HK is a jump indeed. HK is the New York of Asia, a bursting vertical city of towers, shipping containers and people.  7.2 million Chinese and foreign residents crammed onto a tiny island and nearby peninsula.  HK ain’t cheap either. Our friend’s nephew rents a 2 bedroom 1400 sq foot apartment with his wife and two sons for $14k per month.  Ouch!

It could be worth it if you don’t need a lot of space.  There’s a lot going on here.  But if you want to open a business you better have an “in” with one of the three families that own and run the city.  The HK mafia won’t break your legs, theyll just shut you down.

You do a lot of up and down in HK because every building is a tower and the terrain is hilly.  Our place was tiny, basically a bed and desk, and yet twice as big as most of the places we saw available.   But it had a nice rooftop bar that we sat at to watch the nightly harbor laser show blasted from the tops of the buildings around Victoria Bay.

Victoria Bay is lined with giant buildings, all lit up in neon and dazzling lights.  The rooftop view was great, but taking an evening boat tour on a junk was even better.  It was a loungy and romantic, a lovely jaunt around one of the busiest bays in the world.

The buildings are like their own light show!

Small rooms force you outside early so we ventured to the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas, a rising path lined with literally 10,000 unique statues of buddhist monks. Whomever dedicated their life to that pursuit was either zealous or high, but it’s an impressive feat either way.  Each buddha is unique – trust me, Courtney checked.  We have no idea how they made sure of that, but it’s true!

Seriously they’re all different…..

After the buddhas we bounced off the hordes in the Temple Street Night Market shops and in keeping with our tradition had street food: fried shrimp and mushrooms.  Edward also had chili scallops and Courtney ate what amounted to the lovechild of a waffle and a funnel cake.  Yummmm.   HK was the first place we really did any shopping,  loading up on well-priced Polo shirts, sweatshirts and a few trinkets. Packing is a challenge!

Edward sure does like his street food!!

It was in HK that Edward made a huge mistake – he introduced Courtney to a new sport that not only did she like, but also looked like she might be good at:  GOLF!  The problem?  It requires clothes and shoes and accessories and all kinds of things Courtney doesn’t own.  Looks like someone needs to do a little shopping!!

We also let loose one night in HK with our new friend Raof, the nephew of Bashir , Courtney’s family friend who we had dinner with in Kuala Lumpur. Raof treated us to spicy sichuan dinner that numbed our tongues with chili heat and killed any adverse bacteria in our bellies. Then we climbed up the main drag of bars and restaurants in the Central district, starting at Stormies and finishing at Feather Boa, which specialized in chocolate mixed drinks that made Edward’s world spin later that evening.   Ooops.  It’s also an “exclusive” bar for expats only.  Locals aren’t allowed unless they either pay a membership fee or are accompanied by an expat.

Those drinks are dangerous……

Our last day in HK was a toss-up between Disneyland and Vegas.  Seriously.   HK has a huge Disneyland and Macau, 60 minutes by boat, is the Las Vegas of Asia. We chose  Vegas largely because Edward loves boats and Courtney wanted another country in her passport.   Turns out we chose wisely, and not because of the casinos, which were as large, impressive and horrible as Las Vegas.  Rather because we tested our height phobias and went to the top of the Macau Skytower to watch the nut-jobs jumping off the highest bungee jump in the world: 61 stories.  Edward even got Courtney close enough to the edge to take photographs. We enjoyed the view so much we stayed for dinner in the rotating restaurant, a smashing cornucopia of seafood and chocolate fondue.

People actually bungee jump off this building. And those are really people sitting OUTSIDE on the ledge.   See those little white things at the bottom of the picture?  Those are tour buses!

HK is alive to be sure and you’d need to earn millions to live there.  But we wave goodbye fondly as we board for our final destination together : Chiang Mai, Thailand where Courtney will volunteer at the elephant nature park for a week and Edward will take a Muay Thai boxing course before taking leave of Asia.


Singing in the Rain

Since the only way to get to Vietnam from Bali was via Kuala Lumpur with at least a 9-hour layover, we decided to make a weekend out of it.  Plus, Courtney had a family friend there who was happy to entertain us one night!

What should have been a quick flight over quickly turned into the nightmare flight.  First, we thought it was a 2-hour flight.  Not so.  It’s actually a 3-hour flight.  We also thought there was a one hour time difference between Bali and KL, meaning we would get in an hour earlier.  Again, not so. No time difference at all.  So the 4 PM flight out that we thought would get in at 5 PM really didn’t get in until 7 PM.  That was bad enough.  Then add a 5-hour delay onto that!  By the time we actually landed in KL, got thru customs and checked into our hotel it was 2:30 in the morning and we had been traveling for 13 hours.  So much for a quick trip!!

Saturday, the trip was fairly unremarkable.  We didn’t do much other than run a few errands and pick up a few things we needed for our trip.

However, Saturday evening we had the pleasure of having dinner with some family friends, Bashir and Zee.  Bashir informed us we would be going to the “clubs” for drinks and dinner, and to make sure we were dressed appropriately.  Not having any idea what that meant, we put on our finest clothes (translation – our cleanest clothes!) and headed out for the evening.

First stop was the private cricket club they belonged to.  It was a lovely first stop.  There was a massive rainstorm currently happening, with an amazing lightening and thunder show happening.  We sat outside on the covered patio, had drinks and chatted away.  At one point Bashir turned to Courtney, pointed to another area of the club and informed her that ladies aren’t allowed in there, other than one day a year.  So much for progressive thinking!

Next was onto another club for supper.  After having a great meal, we moved inside to the lounge where two young KL women were singing covers to 80s hits.  Bashir continued to ply us with alcohol all the while singing along with the young women, making up words when we think he didn’t know them.  He would have been a great person to go karaoke with!

In da club…..

After yet another late night, we woke up early Sunday morning and headed out to our original destination of Vietnam.  This is supposed to be our last detour….we will see what happens!!