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).