Sunday, December 21, 2008

12.19.08: Hong Kong/ Kowloon

We arrived in Hong Kong this afternoon. Even though the islands are officially part of China again (and not the UK), we still had to go through customs. This involved filling out departure cards, leaving China, walking 300 meters, filling out arrival cards, and entering Hong Kong. They do love the red tape in these parts!

We are staying in Kowloon, which is across the harbor from Hong Kong Island but still part of HK, kind of like a Manhattan-Brooklyn situation. Speaking of home-sweet-home, Hong Kong so far is very different from the other Chinese cities we've seen, yet very similar to New York's Chinatown...on steroids. We learned that most Chinese who emigrate stateside are actually Cantonese, rather than from mainland China, which helps explain our familiarity with this scene.

(Kowloon at night)
My first impression of Kowloon is all action, all the time--packed with people, shops, and neon lights, lights, lights 24/7. It is a little bit of a shock to the system after mellow Yangshuo.

Our first night in Kowloon was our final night with Ammy and our Intrepid group. We had an adventuresome "last supper" smack in the middle of the bustling Temple Street Night Market. The food was nothing special, but the ambiance was priceless. We sat outside; our table was literally in the street. Diners on the street side of our long table had to scoot their chairs in when big buses drove by. We were surrounded by stalls with vendors hawking their cheap wares, like men's underwear by "Gioven Kelvin," aka Calvin Klein, and the cacophony of shoppers bargaining for those goods filled our ears. After dinner, perusing of those stalls and warm hugs goodbye from our now former travel companions closed out the night.

(Dinner at the Temple Street Night Market)
Tomorrow, off to explore Hong Kong Island!

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