Wednesday, January 10, 2007



For the last few days Hong Kong has been swept by a cold wave, and one could see people wearing scarves, down jacket, fur-lined coats and so on, and everybody was complaining about the cold. Highs were in the 60s, and lows in the 50s. The fur-lined coats, by the way, are a cheat: the fur is only on the border of the hood and near the zipper, were it can be seen, but not on the inside of the coat.

Public transportation is fantastic. I love the double-decker buses for at least two reasons: it's nice to sit upstairs and look around, and they make me feel tall (the ceiling is just a few inches above my head). A single payment card is accepted by the several different companies that run buses, ferries, subway and trains; in fact, the card is also accepted by vending machines, convenience stores and many retail stores. It's as if in San Francisco one could shop at the Gap and pay with a Bart card.

Hong Kong is crowded, in a most enjoyable way. Not unlike Manhattan, here apartments are very small, so people spend most of their time, and do most of their socializing, outside. Plus, people seem to like to stay up until late. The result is that everywhere there are huge crowds of people who are out and about. After three months in LA, it's a great change of pace. The Chinese University is in the New Territories, which are as out of the way from the center as it sounds. If Hong Kong island is Manhattan, and Kowloon is Brooklyn, here we may as well be in Long Island. And, yet, the mall here in Sha Tin is open until 10pm or later, and it is lively until then every night.

I cannot decide if this is an expensive or a cheap city. Restaurants can be very cheap, but the cover charges in clubs and the cost of drinks in bars are a real scandal. Something should be done about it; perhaps someone should write angrily about such things on the internet.

The earthquake in Taiwan broke a major internet cable, and internet traffic has been slow in the south of China and here as well, so I could not post daily food updates. I apologizes to the countless disappointed readers (so far, Cantonese, dim sum, seafood, dim sum, hot pot, Shanghainese, Vietnamese, Western, Pekinese, dim sum, Cantonese).

4 Comments:

  1. Anonymous Anonymous
    1/10/2007 11:42:00 AM

    The fur-lined coats, by the way, are a cheat: the fur is only on the border of the hood and near the zipper, were it can be seen, but not on the inside of the coat.

    Actually, it isn't cheat; they are simply responding to the Arctic conditions. Standard Arctic parkas (even down-filled ones) have a fur ruff around the hood and collar to break up the wind and keep it away from the face and other vulnerable areas. (The importance of the fur ruff is analyzed
    here
    .)

     
  2. Blogger D.
    1/11/2007 10:06:00 AM

    Speaking of HK's excellent public transport system, is it true that (some of) the ferry services have been closed?

     
  3. Anonymous hoeteck (in sf)
    1/11/2007 11:02:00 AM

    Luca omitted an important point about public transportation: the subway stops at around 1 am, but there're buses running throughout the night at regular intervals of about 20 mins. In particular, there's this bus that leaves from Central near Lam Kwai Fung and stops in front of our hotel in Shatin.

    The Star Ferry between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central is still running and costs merely HKD 2.20 each way (US $0.30). Taking the ferry at night is particularly delightful, although the rides feel much shorter these days.

     
  4. Blogger Luca
    1/11/2007 08:05:00 PM

    One historic ferry building in Central has been closed, and it's slated for demolition (which is causing big protests), but it has been replaced by a new one nearby. I don't think the move has caused a reduction of the ferry service.

     

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