First Installment of the China Trip

HK Subway Station
 So here's the real scoop on Hong Kong and China-- it's a FABULOUS place to visit! And it looks like everyone else knows it too, because it's become one of the most popular places for vacations. So, needless to say, TOO MANY TOURISTS.

For me I say my vacation started Monday, May 23rd, because although I had to work.... I was having a blast, which, unfortunately, isn't something that happens every day. Everyone at school seemed really happy- no stressing about upcoming events and I got to do my favorite thing with my kids: art projects!!!!! :)

But, technically, I didn't have a real break until the next day when I got to fly out to Hong Kong! We were only there to get my Chinese visa, but I really really want to go back. Hong Kong is super trendy. It's big, but everything's closely packed in. You can get lots of places by walking or short taxi rides and it's pretty foreign friendly, since it was owned by the British for a hundred years (or so... I'm not worth quoting about history).

However... we woke up at the crack of dawn to ride to Taoyuan airport (an hour away) and then take a plane over there. First task was to rush to the visa office so I could have it ready by the next day. Then we checked into the hotel... tiniest room ever, but it was only for one night. Got to watch some discovery channel about Korean food.

We only had to walk around the corner of our hotel for lunch and let me tell you- it was amazing! Some kind of beef noodles... I'm sure Albert knows the Chinese name so we can find it again. The restaurant was across from a public park and temple, and we got to see some characters walking around, playing chess...

This is a temple

That's a chess game

After snapping some photos we checked out some bookstores. They were mostly for Albert's benefit, since we were on the search for some Chinese comic books.

Lots of English street names! :) Even one after my brother!

Don't remind me... :'(

Red Wings, for my Daddy

This was a big complex of stores selling some illegal stuff

Then we wanted to check out some markets so we went to the famous "Ladies Market," where the stuff is not actually only for ladies. It looked like a traditional night market in Taiwan only not as much food and it was more tourist-y. We got to find out the hard way not to act interested or even walk into a vendor's store unless you are planning on buying something. (Totally different from TW, btw) First stall I see is selling bracelets and of course I'm curious so I walk in, knowing someone a few stalls away would be selling the same thing. Maybe I can see who'll give me the better price. The owner, seeing I'm a foreigner keeps pestering me "What do you like? Okay you take this basket." I pick up a bracelet just to look at, put it down. She picks it up and puts it in the basket. And while I'm looking she keeps putting in more bracelets I didn't even express interest in. So I just ignore her- "I'm not obligated to buy anything," I think. I realize 2 minutes later that the quality is not that good and I don't see anything I really have to have. So I say thanks and leave... she totally grabs my wrist and doesn't want to let me go. Eventually we shake her off and uh... keep walking. Totally wasn't expecting that... but it's just a different culture you have to accept.

You need to guess what those are, 'cuz I'm not telling you

Didn't exactly learn from my mistake though. Next stall had some neat dresses and I had to go in. I liked 'em cause you can't find them in TW, but the price is realy steep.. (cause I'm a foriegner and I must have a lot of money ;) ) And I've never haggled before in my life. I think from knowing the price of things in Taiwan I felt more comfortable asking for a decent price. So somehow I end up getting it down to a comfortable price and I buy one. Score!!! :) First successful bartering!

We keep walking and head to KFC for dinner. Lame, right? Then we went to the Goldfish Market, where they sell actual fish in bags. They don't want anyone taking pictures so I had to be sneaky. Would you believe there was a tiny shark in a bag too?


By the way, those strollers are really for dogs

Then we looked at an English bookstore- YAY!!! It's called Page One. I ended up snatching a Cantonese phrase book and cd. BTW, they speak Cantonese, not Mandarin in Hong Kong. I'm learning Mandarin right now. Albert's ancestors came from the Canton area so one of the dialects his family speaks is Hakka and it comes from Cantonese. It's a really cool language. It's pretty close to Mandarin so you can mayyybe pick up some words if you know a little bit about Cantonese. To me (since I haven't studied it yet), it sounds like Mandarin with just a different pronunication and more tones... but I'll find out for sure in the near future I bet.

By this time I'm really tired and just want to go to bed, but I only get to be in Hong Kong for another half day and I really wanted to get as much out of it as I could. So we looked around the local night market near the hotel.

Let me tell you.... (this is not safe for work).... way to many sex toy stores. It was really graphic and any kid could walk through there... We even saw people buying things... foreigners even... It was just too much. But past that section of the market were just cool tourist stalls and a food section. We tried an amazing mango drink, grilled eggplant and I forget what else.

That's day one in Hong Kong! Thirteen more days to go! :D


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