Friday, February 13, 2009

The Semi-Legendary, Quasi-Mythical, Wholly Extraordinary Picture Post Part I: Hong Kong Nights. (LONG)

Alright, it is finally time for you all to see some of my travels. So we are going to travel back in time to December 29th to December 31st, as this first picture post concerns my time in Hong Kong, as well as a discussion of the plane flight over. December 28th was a Sunday and I had my final night at Mom's house before I left, which was fairly tear filled. I have to confess that I almost lost it as I walked out. That was the third of four times I almost lost it walking out of someone's home.

The first was when I left Titus and Llamrei's house a week before, the Sunday after my graduation. We had done a gaming session the night before, gone to brunch at a cool place in Ft. Collins, hung out and played games at their house before I got to leaving. One of the greatest honors and joys in my life is the time I have spent as a member of that household, gaming and making fun of Titus and drinking with Llamrei and hanging out with everybody. It was really hard to go get in my car and leave, knowing that I won't be able to do that for a year.

The second time was when I left Helene and Gabbie's house, Rose Manor. I have a number of very close friends and confidantes in the SCA both in and out of my households, for which I am incredibly thankful; but no other house has had as many wild plots or or evil schemes hatched at it then Rose Manor (simply for longevity, been going to RM longer than Titus' house ;) ). We went out for Mexican food and then hung out doing what we all are so good at, namely talking. And then I left, having to force myself to get in to the car and drive.

If I thought it was hard to leave Titus or Helene's house, leaving Mom's was worse than both. No offense to either Helene or Titus but I've known Mom longer. It was very emotional, and very difficult. I forced myself to get in to the car and drive on my way. Nathan and I had this plan of staying up all night and sleeping on the plane so we could maximize our time in Hong Kong, which we proceeded to execute. We left with Dad and Ann in the morning and drove to the Air Port where we had a nourishing breakfast of Burger King.

Finally we had to leave, as they couldn't come with us any further. And I almost lost it as I looked up at them standing on the bridge overlooking security. I've never wanted to abandon a plan and run away more in my life then right before those last few seconds before I went down the escalator and into the future.

I promised this would be a long post but we will get to the pictures. The plane flights went from great to awful. Out to San Francisco we were in an emergency row and had lots of leg room to stretch out and relax in. Of course this was the two-three hour flight, which meant that while nice we would have preferred to switch it as on the flight to Hong Kong we were in Cramp City. Way back of the plane right where it curves in so we had less room than normal on a 14 hour flight. We had three boring movies (a horrible romcom with the same premise as The Sixth Sense, a foreign film that was incomprehensibly art neuveau and The Duchess). So 14 hours of cramped, uncomfortable boredom with bad food.

And so finally we arrive in Hong Kong, and we come out expecting to see a brand new world, a gallery of different things and I am expecting it to be terribly Chinese. And we see...Yeah, so much for that 'terribly Chinese' idea. That is sort of heartwarming in a way, I guess, a reminder of home. But come on, Starbucks? Totally deflating my sense of being in a foreign land here. So we wander through the airport, go through customs, get our stamps, and then head out in to the train system. As always click the pictures to see a larger version!

If you look very carefully at the map above you can see a familiar pair of mouse ears, which indicates how you get to the Disney World in Hong Kong. Had I had more time and more money I might have checked it out just to see what the differences are. We actually took a different train that runs in to the city directly from the air port, but I didn't get a picture of it except for an advertisement on it.

Hong Kong is fascinating because it has so little space, and that lack of space creates a very particular mindset. That mindset being that every single inch of everything should have something on it. If it isn't at least four stories tall it needs to be bigger, if it doesn't have a restaurant on there throw one on. It seems to be a particularly asian mindset, and I'll talk about Bangkok's version about it later, but it was fascinating. I couldn't get any good pictures of them but there are restaurants that exist only on the fourth or fifth floors of buildings. I know these things exist in the States, we even had one (the Tattered Cover's Restaurant) in Denver that I know of; but they are everywhere, on every building in Hong Kong. And the signs, we saw signs for Maseratis and BMWs and Aston Martins and everything was packed with shopping.

You could spend a month in Hong Kong and never hit 1/100th of all of the shops, or even eat on the ground floor. Everything is so big, and filled...

Except the room we stayed in, which is smaller than my 23 square feet apartment here in Bangkok. There are three beds in that room, the other one is out of the frame off to the right. Why there are three beds in this room I have no idea. Two would have seemed a little bit cramped, but three is silly. Especially since the one on the left is literally the hardest bed I have ever felt. Holy God that thing was like a sheet of rock with some set dressing. It wasn't too expensive though, which was nice.

We didn't spend a lot of time in the guest house because, you know, we were in Hong Kong for 12 hours and wanted to rock out. So we went out and wandered the streets. Like I said, Hong Kong doesn't go in for small except for my hotel room. Everything else is super sized. We passed this building...

Which is hardly even close to the tallest building in Hong Kong. It would be pretty awesome just sitting in downtown Denver, but in Hong Kong it is pretty much no big deal. A much bigger deal is the next building, which I have a fuzzy picture of here and then you can see better when I get to the skyline picture.

Movie fans may recognize that as the building Batman jumps off of in The Dark Knight, or at least the best picture of it my poor little cheapo camera could take. It is a very impressive building, jutting like a magnificent claw from the land scape. This is the building Shredder from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should live in, or Wolverine should have a battle in front of. No wonder they picked it for the movie.

Hong Kong island sits at the base of a 'mountain' which overlooks the whole area, and offers visibility into mainland China; we're not talking Pike's Peak, but it is pretty impressive. Nathan didn't go up Mt. Victoria last time and I may not get a next time, so we went all the way to the top. At the top of Mt. Victoria is...a shopping center. I told you they put shopping on everything.

But at the top of this very tall mall, past all the restaurants and the shops and an EA game arcade (which was closed or Nathan would have been very angry at me) is an observation deck which offers you an unparallelled view of the island. And the view is absolutely, indescribably brilliantly amazing. Words can barely express how amazing the look out over the island of Hong Kong is. I have some pictures of the shore line which I will post in the next picture post, but the night time skyline is magnificent, and I'll leave off with that.

I love that skyline; that is the most amazing skyline in the world I think. It totally ruined me for Bangkok's which is impressive not because of its' height but because of its' width. Hong Kong is a forest of massive buildings growing on a tiny island, while Bangkok is moderately sized buildings but an ocean of city that stretches on far beyond what you can see from even the tallest building (and I've been on the tallest building).

That's Nathan in front of the skyline, in what I thought was a pretty damn good picture. It is hard to get the skyline properly on a low end consumer camera because any shake causes a lot of blur, and there is so much light. The one Nathan took on me didn't come out as well, which I claim is because I'm a better photographer than he is, but for some reason he doesn't agree with that assesment. Don't know why. He took one of me in return, where the buildings are less visible. But still...

That is me. In Hong Kong. Pretty wild, huh?



  1. Awesome!! Great pictures. Great buildup to the Starbuck's picture. Too bad you didn't have any money to go shopping in Hong Kong. :) Thanks for sharing. Love you and miss you.

  2. We had McDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donuts in Greece. The McD's and Starbucks we expected, but Dunkin Donuts? I can't even find one of those here.

    You need to go to NYC if you want large quantities of tall buildings on a tiny island that looks like it should sink under the weight of its structures. Though as a New Yorker, I cede ultimate city superiority to Tokyo.

  3. Dear Matthew,

    Stop picking on your cute little pink digital camera - it did a fine job. I am so jealous, I would love to see HK. Although I am less into shopping than some. A moving commentary on your removing to a new world. That makes two in a row in the tears in the eyes for your old da. Keep up the outstanding blogging.

    Tony will be here in a few minutes for his annual tax appointment - I will share it with him.


  4. Matthew,
    Please contact our nephew as they want to take you out for dinner.His e-mail is ailxes@gm.
    His name is X short name,so do contact him.
    Thank you,

  5. Dear Matthew,

    Armed with technical assistance, I am going to try and post your diploma.

  6. Dear Matthew,

    Please ignore the previous comment. I was attempting to post an image of your diploma (.jpg) - copy / paste doesn't do it, import / export failed miserably, Bloghelp was useless, so I was left feeling like a complete techno-peasant.

    I thought the world would enjoy admiring your diploma, and a picture of the two of us at graduation, but until you post it, or teach me how to do same, the world will just have to .....


    Your frustrated boomer parent


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