Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Hong Kong diary

The third term at PGPX was an International Immersion module for R.  A term that probably I looked forward to more than him, a term that entitled me for a grand holiday in reward of the erratic 1st and 2nd term schedules that I had to bear with! Of the five destinations picked  from across the globe, R chose the Chinese University of Hong Kong to help him gain insight into the Chinese perspective of doing business today.

So on Sept 3 we landed in the newly built HK airport and were greeted with a sea of swanky Ferraris and Maseratis, Porches and Lamborghinis parked alongside our hotel shuttle. Turns out that a club of sports car owners in HK were at breakfast in the Regal Airport hotel. Wow! That was an apt introduction to Hong Kong's luxurious lifestyle in the grandest terms. These people know how to spend their money and spend it well!

We were put up in the Regal Riverside Hotel, a touristy yet comfy hotel in the quiet New Territories area overlooking the Shatin River. From here began the discovery of Hong Kong for us the three ladies who decided to tag along with the students for the trip.

The Hong Kong MTR is an extensive network of metro rail that interconnects almost all parts of the city and in one word is the "lifeline" of HK. Most metro stations open into a Mall of sorts and for the first few days we would squeal out of sheer excitement until we discovered that almost all of HK is a large, really very large mall in itself! This shopping guide to Hong Kong that I discovered and printed just before leaving became our bible for the trip. I would rate the Argyle Centre in Mongkok as the Star of low budget shopping in HK.

Hong Kong oozes style. Of all the malls that we visited there was never an empty one. The mix of population that lives in HK can give the Fashion capital of the world a run for its money. Apparently, most foreign brands in HK do better business here than in their own home country. It almost feels like everyone around you is on a perpetual shopping trip!

We visited most of the touristy "must see places" and I cannot stop marveling over the cable car network created on the Lantau Island. A cable car for me - until I visited the Big Buddha on Ngong Peak was a slow means to travel between: Point A & Point B and my frame of reference for years had been the Gun hill in Mussoorie. The extensive and intricate engineering opened my eyes to a whole new world of cable car rides. The fact that point A to Point B in this case was almost a half an hour ride over and across several mountains and the South China Sea, the Crystal Cable car ride with 360 degree views, emerged as the sure shot winner of the trip.

Another highlight of our trip was Oceanpark. I loved the dolphin & walrus show. The sea animals are well trained and completely charm the audience with their amazing co-ordination and tricks. I didn't want to leave. The Oceanpark also had some mind - blowing rides - literally! We came back extremely tired but thoroughly amused from our day trip - a day well spent.

While on the trip, we happened to witness the Mid - Autumn Carnival which takes place on a full moon night. Very similar to Diwali, the Chinese light beautifully shaped lanterns and eat mooncakes. The Victoria Park in Causeway bay was decorated with huge lanterns and showcased the famous Dragon dance. It was a pretty sight, although I expected a little more.

Food in HK is yum for some. HK is also known as the food capital of the world with its array of food specialities. Mostly things that walk, swim or fly, HK is the perfect place for the hardcore non- veg junkies. Being chickeaters, we had trouble explaining our likes and dislikes to a few bewildered non-English speaking waiters. Chicken feet are a delicacy and baby chicken is actually a frog. We even spotted lizards on skewers in a famous night market. We spent another fun evening pub hopping in Lan Kwai Fong, HK's famous pub district.

I could easily have spent another 15 days in HK, just taking in the vibrant energy that the city exudes.
The charm of Hong Kong lies in the reminiscent of its coloniser and the pace of its present, almost like a Calcutta put into a New York. A spice market that ran in the middle of the super chic Central, the trams in Causeway Bay and old dilapidated buildings with vintage cars made sure that the city's rich history did not die away in the realms of urbanization.

Phew! There has never been a holiday like this one! Two whole weeks of snoopying around every nook and corner of the majestic Hong Kong city - a grand Soiree to remember.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Hello lady, finally I have managed to read it all, from end to end and during work hours.. :)
And I love what you write, how you write and slightly envious of your life too but more than that, plain happy for you and him. I will be checking in more often so stay. :D