Hong Kong II

by

 Wednesday, September 22

The conference sponsors buffet lunch at one of the hotel restaurants, but the first day I started at the first of the food stations and my plate was already full by the time I got to the sushi counter. Today I knew better; I skipped the first part and loaded up with sushi, sashimi and, well, just plain raw fish. Plateful of fruit for dessert, including a couple of small, crisp cones filled with blueberies glued in place with chocolate syrup. Hard to take!

I played hookey in the afternoon, went past the lantern festival during daylight to see what was there, whether it might be worth going back in the evening (yes).

Then I tried for another of the vertical hills that rises just above the city. Found lots of vertical country to walk, but because I was blundering along, didn’t get more than maybe halfway up. No problem: it’s good to get out, after having been cooped up by meetings and weather all week.

After the meetings, Intel sponsored a celebration of 500million broadband subscribers. Lots of talk about internet being comparable to invention of printing press and high-speed access being an essential aspect of the internet, some of which is even true.

Couldn’t line up Richard or Anna for the evening, but Denis and I went to the lantern festival. My favourite was the wedgwood set, although the peakcocks came a close second.

 

From Victoria park, we followed a trail of red lanterns to the nearby Tai Hang district, where they had a local fire dragon. This was a straw dragon maybe sixty feet long, stuffed full of incense sticks. Denis is tall enough to see over the crowd, but for me, it was mostly hoping they would get on with it.

Finally they completed the local fire dance and formed a procession that went to Victoria park, where they would repeat the dance for the rest of Hong Kong. Near the corner where I was jammed into the crowd, they stopped and pulled all of the incense sticks out of the dragon, handed them to the spectators. When we saw them later in Victoria park, they had restored the fire to the dragon; I suppose there was just too much risk to carry a fiery dragon through the streets.

After the fire dragon, Denis and I found a restaurant in the direction away from the crowds, a restaurant that had an empty table – it was already almost 11PM by then – and had prawns with all the bits and pieces still attached. I decided not to try chopsticks and attacked them with knife and fork. Blog and pictures forthcoming; worth an evening, but crowded and it was a late night.

Thursday, September 23

I lasted in the meetings until about 2 PM today, then bailed out. I decided to see whether it was possible to walk along the waterfront down at least to the main ferry terminal, and if so, and if there was still enough time, perhaps to go to Kowloon.

Well, it is possible to go along the water, more or less, but it’s not easy. You have to cross a number of major roads to get there, and once there, it is a continuing stretch of construction site. In fairness, the construction site is there for the purpose of developing an extended waterfront promenade, so I guess I can’t complain too much. Come back in three or five years, it will probably be pretty nice.

There are two ferry piers, one at the convention centre, the other at the cental station. I walked down to the central station pier, took the ferry from there. Forewarned by the guidebook, I paid an extra dollar (HK3 instead of HK2) to ride the upper deck of the ferry to Kowloon.

I had understood that Nathan road was Hong Kong territory’s main shopping street, so when I saw the Tiffany shop, along with an entire street of every brand name in the world that is willing to take however much money you are willing to spend, I thought I was on Nathan road. Not so: this is merely Canton road.

Went on over to Nathan road, which is actually much more of an ordinary shopping street. Up a block or three, under the banyan trees whose roots drip down toward the sidewalk, then back in the general direction of the ferry, but through Kowloon park. Pleasant place. It was getting dark, and I had vague thoughts about maybe hooking up with someone to go out this evening.

On my way to the ferry itself – I went back to the Hong Kong convention centre pier, a bit shorter – I saw a banner sign about resigning your membership in the Chinese communist party. Stopped for a photo, and picked up the Epoch Times, which has a nine-part series describing the crimes of the Chinese communist party.

Even though Hong Kong is a special administrative region, I was surprised at this level of freedom of speech. Congratulated the people handing out the material – even if they do have some freedom of speech, this has to take a certain amount of courage.

The convention centre is arguably the most distinctive building along the water, surely inspired by the Sydney opera house.

Walked back to the hotel, thinking I’d stop in at an Indian restaurant, or maybe just a steakhouse, if I happened to see one. But I didn’t. Ended up at the Dickens Pub in the basement of the hotel, where I had two half-litres of Erdinger Dunkel with fish and chips. Looked through the material I had collected, which is just a bit long on diatribe for my taste. Not that it’s wrong: for example, they point out that a measure of civilization is the degree to which it renounces violence. It’s published by people with western names out of New York, so the local (and worldwide) printing and dissemination may be the limit of local involvement. Still, it’s freedom of expression, and that’s significant! They have a local editorial insert claiming to have distributed hundreds of thousands of copies in Hong Kong already, many of which surely have found their way back into PRC by way of the forty thousand Chinese tourists who visit every day.

Friday, September 24

All of the Broadband Forum meetings concluded yesterday except for some wrapping up, so I went down for breakfast, but didn’t bother with any of the meetings. I didn’t spend as much time in Kowloon yesterday as I thought it warranted, particularly since I see a number of pedestrian streets on the map, so I took the ferry across and explored again.

On my way to the ferry, I passed the restaurant that Jaume told me about, Fuk Yuen. When a group of colleagues went out last night, Tom refused to go to a restaurant whose name insulted him. He was serious! On the other hand, they ended up in a Japanese steak house that sounded very good. Maybe I’ll try for it tonight.

I noticed on the map that there were a number of pedestrian-only streets, so I tried to seek them out. Good thing to do. Clothes, vegetables, fine. Meat and especially fish, not so fine.

Along Reclamation street, I found the jade hawkers’ market, some of which was pretty interesting. One vendor showed me an English-language sign that said I was his first customer of the day, and for good luck, he needed to give me a special deal. Thank you. Good-bye.

 Wandered around for an hour or three, until my feet got sore. Found a hardware district. Hardware? Yes, and specialized. You want fan belts, there’s a store that specializes in fan belts. Bearings? A separate store. Extrusions? Its own store. Springs? Springs!? Yes, of course.

Headed back toward the ferry, stopped in Kowloon park, where there was a flamingo colony.

Spent some time photographing ordinary people, just for fun. Well, pretty women, actually.

Back to the hotel mid-afternoon, sore feet. A few telecons, that may result in going to Aberdeen (south coast of HK island) tonight. Had a beer with Denis, who is on his way to Kowloon this evening.

My colleagues checked in from the top of Victoria peak. They were going on to Aberdeen from there, and rightly. I asked Jaume for the name of last night’s steak restaurant, since I had already discovered that there were at least a dozen Japanese restaurants at 491 Lockhart road. Sweetheart Garden, second floor. It was okay, but salty, and if that’s representative of Kobe beef, I’m not particularly impressed. On the other hand, it was only HKD113, so it could hardly have been the best possible cut of Kobe beef.

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