Hong Kong - My Newest Love

As I stated a few posts ago, one of my best friends came to visit me. Korea was never on his list of places to visit, but then again it wasn't on mine either - they just happen to pay me a lot of money. However, he stopped here to visit me before we both headed onto Hong Kong. He had lived there for 6 months a few years ago for school and this of course was my first time.

(Before you get any further - this post will be long and probably not as entertaining as others. You've been warned.)

Hong Kong is one of those magical cities that just blindside you. You of course go and think it's going to be a good time, but you wind up leaving it begrudgingly and figuring out ways to come back. It is a captivating city, and you can feel its energy and that people are there and getting things, important worldly things, done.

You also never forget that you're in a Chinese area, as things are still slightly off... case in point - a street of dried seafood with fresh shark fins on the side of the street:

We got there early Wednesday afternoon, hopped on the excellent Airport Express Train and were in central Hong Kong within 24 minutes.

We checked into the Marriot Courtyard and as we entered our room on the 25th floor and looked out our gigantic floor to ceiling windows we were pretty pleased with ourselves.

We wasted no time, and once we got over the happiness of the room, we took the trolley (yes, amazingly fun trolleys) down to a plaza in central Hong Kong. We walked around there for a bit to see all of the buildings and then subwayed it over to the Kowloon Peninsula to site see.

As we walked around we came to the Peninsula Hotel - an old time British luxury hotel - so we stopped in for a bit of afternoon tea. We took the Star Ferry back to central Hong Kong and took a trip up one of the longest escalators in the world through the mid-levels full of shops and restaurants. Once at the top we headed over to Lai Kwai Fong - the foreigner bar area - and had a beer and some food before heading back to the hotel for the evening to crack open the mini bar and stare out the window (yes, we just sat and stared out the window).

Thursday saw not too much action as there were some meetings to be had, but I did get to see a bit of the Syracuse University program at the City University of Hong Kong. SU is the only American University presence in HK which made me feel pretty good for my alma matter.

Thursday night we did stop on the Kowloon side for a bit to watch the nightly Laser Light Show that HK puts on from their skyline. They play music and each of the buildings light up and its a nice little flair that they add for tourists.

We then took a walk around the lit up area and saw all of the Olympic craziness around. Hong Kong is helping Beijing to host the Equine part of the games this summer. Plus all of China is crazy about it all anyway...

Friday we took a little trip over to Hong Kong Disneyland, and being that I had never before been to a Disney anything it was a really fun afternoon. The highlight for me had to be the Philharmagic Show - which was a 3D theater performance complete with water, smells, wind, and smoke. It was excellent. Also we did the It's a Small World Ride which had only been open for about a week, and the song is forever burned into my brain. The park is very very small though, and took us only about 3 hours to go through the whole thing. It's just hilarious that Disney has a presence in HK.

After Disney we went on one of the craziest bus rides through Lantau Island and wound up on top of a mountain at the Big Stone Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. Truly a site to see, so if you're there - I recommend it.

We of course went out for a bit of drinking with some of my friend's old friends in Lai Kwai Fong and returned home at 5am, only to wake up and check out at 9am. For our last night in Hong Kong, I was surprised with a night at the Mandarin Oriental - one of the world's premier hotels. We had tea in our room on the 19th floor, overlooking the harbor and central Hong Kong that our concierge herself brought to us.

We headed to an excellent Dim Sum lunch in Kowloon with a few Chinese friends and then went to the Tsim Sha Tsui area to pick up our newly made clothing. Hong Kong is an incredible place to go shopping, but what you should definitely do is go and have clothing made. My friend got a suit and some shirts made, while I had some shirts and a skirt made cheaper than you'd ever get at home.

Saturday evening we took a long trip out to the New Territories and had dinner in Tai Po with a British Syracuse Professor who has lived in Hong Kong for 30+ years. The stories he had to tell were fascinating and he took us out to one of the best Thai food dinners I've ever had. He drove us back to the train station and when we returned to our hotel, we headed to the top floor for an evening in the hotel spa - WHICH happened to be ranked Asia's best spa. This was a title that is well deserved because for 60 minutes I was in pure unadulterated bliss. I've seriously never felt that good in my whole life, that I'm sure of.

For our last night in HK we once again sat looking out our window overlooking the harbor with all of the lights before meeting up with the same friends from earlier to have drinks in the hotel rooftop bar. We sat in this classy establishment enjoying martinis and such before calling it a drunken night around 2am.

Room serviced breakfast woke us up at 6:15am. It was a cloudy rainy morning which fit our moods perfectly being that neither of us wanted to go home. I didn't want to take my 3 hour flight to Seoul and my friend definitely did not want to take his 15 hour flight back to New York. Most people would say that life could be worse, but we now know that it could be better...