Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hong Kong General I

From Ukraine we flew to Hong Kong. It wasn't hard to say goodbye to freezing temperatures, snow, gloves, and hats. After 3 months in Europe, we were finally getting started on our Asian adventures and I was psyched. Yuriy has been in Asia previously, but this was my first time. Once we landed, our cheesy grins said it all... the 70 degree sunny weather felt incredible! We hopped onto a double decker bus and headed toward the city, catching our first glimpses of the famous "Rush Hour" city. Shooting out of the ground on either side of us were tall, skinny high rise buildings. It was like a spreading weed... getting denser and denser the closer we got to downtown. Short buildings or houses are non existent in Hong Kong, The Vertical City. The change of scenery was so drastic. Chinese characters and Asian people in every direction. One of the first things out of my mouth was "it's like a never-ending Chinatown!" (Yuriy joked about it quite a bit).

The city is very clean, orderly, and high tech. The buses are equipped with wi-fi and there are random wi-fi hotspot booths around the city streets. We saw signs that prohibit spitting on the streets (resulting in a big fine)! I was impressed. These are clean people! The underground subway stations are shiny and classy, not trashy, stinky, and covered in graffiti like many in Europe and America. We noticed that the underground tunnels were extremely wide (to accommodate tons of people) and we later learned that the public transportation rate in HK is over 90%, the highest in the world! Hong Kong was controlled by Great Britain for a very long time, so most of the streets have very English names (like Thomas and Queen's Road), which was surprising among all the Asian characters and colors. English remains one of the primary languages (along with Cantonese), so we were in luck, as the thought of learning even a word in Chinese was intimidating.

Let's just say we were pretty impressed with our first day walking around the city.

* Julia

Really cool mountains out the airplane window, but unfortunately we were right next to the wing so I got a couple crummy shots.
The high-rise buildings start as soon as you leave the airport.
So strange to see Chinese characters painted on roads.
Our hotel was right on busy Nathan Road, but it was nothing to be proud of (a tiny little box)... we'll show you photos in an upcoming post.
A restaurant menu. Yes I'll take that special for $33 please (can anyone read this?!)
That's Yuriy on the end peering in at watches with the crowd. Must be a killer sale.
Always busy sidewalks.
One of the best/most extensive public transportation systems in the world.
Cars drive on the left (AKA wrong) side of the road, thanks to those British.
Construction scaffolding is made of bamboo! It looks incredible. (It's made of metal back home)
Jungle-like trees amidst all the modern techno buildings.
A sea of taxi cars.
These guys missed the signs...
Walking along the "Avenue of Stars"-- a promenade along the Victoria Harbor which reminded us of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California.