Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hong Kong

Seeing as I was 12 the last time I visited, I wasn't sure what to expect this time (don't even get me started on Macau). I remember a blur of lights, noise (mostly unintelligible cantonese), good food and good shopping, but nothing specific. Gosh what a waste, remind me never to take my kids traveling until they're in high school. This time around though, it was almost an overwhelming of the senses, where every experience is sharpened because it is familiar, but at the same time not.

This is how they deliver vegetables?

Bartholomew in front of Victoria Park (equivalent of NYC's Central Park)

First off, I don't speak cantonese. And I certainly don't read chinese, which puts me at a huge disadvantage when it comes to bargaining at night markets (very important), communicating with my aunts and uncles (so I can tell them about my exciting life back home and how much I have grown - and NOT physically- since they last saw me), and finding my way around the maze-like roads (when i'm not risking my life looking lef-right-left). Unlike Europe, where life is like a pretty picture and things just seem to fit into the landscape (maybe I'm just used to westernized culture?), Hong Kong is full of interruptions. It's colorful, bright, and loud-- not just the language. Buildings are so tall you can't see the end of them, and people live in such close quarters its really quite claustrophobic. People are everywhere, ants moving from place to place, just like in those fast-forward clips of Times Square in Tokyo.

Hong Kong at night

And the food-- it's like the chinese food you find in LA, except hyped up on steriods, better than you thought your dimsum/chow mein/roast duck experience could ever get! Flavors and textures of foods I grew up with are more refined - and also foreign, in a way, to what I know. I've discovered that there really are gourmet chinese restaurants, not the hole-in-the-wall places in LA that seem to have questionable preparation methods (eat, don't question). Don't get me wrong, still still have that in Hong Kong, but at the same time you can buy lunch for less than $3 USD. Clean, elegant restaurants with fishing boats hanging from the ceiling, better soup dumplings than din tai fung (not to mention the people in the window making them are actually Chinese), and tastefully hung paintings. Who woulda thunk?

  The best duck I have ever had!!

dim sum-- it looks the same as the stuff here, but it certainly doesn't taste like it.

Shop selling lots of dried goods that I would never eat.