Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thank You and Have a Magical Day!

Dustin and I made the trek to Hong Kong to get our resident’s visas worked out. We took a few days off from work, left on a Wednesday night, and returned to Taiwan on the following Sunday night. It’s funny. Whenever I had thought about Hong Kong before, I never factored in the idea that it's still a tropical island, I always thought of it as only a huge fashion-central, metropolitan city.

That was only half of it. It’s also super hot and super humid.

Maybe it’s because in Taiwan we always come back to our air conditioned rooms after teaching. Or maybe it’s because we spent all day almost everyday outside in Hong Kong. For whatever reason, I had never felt so sticky and hot all the time. And I thought things were bad in Taiwan. ^_^

We had probably the smallest hostel room I have ever seen. It was about 11’X9’, with two beds and a shower/bathroom, in which, if you sat on the toilet and looked up, there was the shower head. Yay! Also, the room lacked windows…not exactly a good room for a claustrophobic person. But there was A/C. And as soon as you stepped out of the building, there were tons of street vendors pushing their goods on us.

On Thursday, we went to the Lippo Building (also known as the Koala Hugging Building because it looks like koalas are hugging the building…) to turn in our visa applications. We accidentally slept in, so we barely got there in time, only 10 minutes before they closed the office. Thank goodness we made it.

Then after we got all that important stuff done, we decided to visit the beaches. We swam in Deep Water Bay and walked around Repulse Bay for a bit. It was really nice to have sand inbetween my toes again and the salt water in my eyes. I missed it.

After the beaches, we decided to make it up to Victoria’s Peak. Oh! One thing I forgot to mention; In Hong Kong, they have these awesome credit card-type things called octopus cards which you can use on anything. You just tap it to whatever you want (you can use it on buses, vending machines, 7elevens, etc) and it automatically takes out the money and you’re good to go. You don’t even need to take it out of your wallet, just tap your wallet to the sensor. It was a lifesaver on the buses, trains and ferries we took while traveling around the city.

The view from Victoria’s Peak was beautiful. We got there right before the sun was going down, so we got a good view of the city at Twilight, with the light hitting the smog so beautifully. Seriously, sometimes smog makes things look so much more beautiful. Then we stayed up at the peak long enough so we could see Hong Kong at night. The lights on the buildings were just amazing.

On Friday, we picked up our newly approved, wonderful, and (most importantly) legal resident’s working visas. We visited Hong Kong Park (where they had a lot of displays for the upcoming Olympic games, although only the Equestrian sports will be played in HK) and went shopping at the stores for the rest of the day. It was hard, because I took only $5,000 New Taiwanese Dollars, which exchange rate is 30 to 1 US dollar. But in Hong Kong, the exchange rate is only 7 HK dollars to 1 US dollar. So I couldn’t buy as much stuff as I would have liked (yes, yes, I tried to get you all gifts. ^_^).

Before going to Hong Kong, I never knew it was spread out on about three or four different islands. The airport was on a different island than our Hostel, which was on a completely different island than the building we had to get our visas at (the Lippo Building was on the actual “Hong Kong” island). Then HK Disneyland was on a different one too. ^_^

Anyways, from Kawloon, we were able to view the light show that the buildings on Hong Kong island put on every night at 8pm. It was beautiful.

On Saturday, we spent all day at Hong Kong Disneyland. It was much cheaper than the ones in the states (only about $50 US dollars). It was interesting to see the culture differences, for instance, there was basically only one rollercoaster ride (Space Mountain), and the attractions that seemed most popular were the ones that told stories or provided lots of photo opportunities. The shows were a lot of fun because they were partly in Chinese with the songs in English.

On Sunday, we went up to see the Big Buddha. It’s the largest sitting Buddha in the world, or so they claim. And yes, it’s a LARGE Buddha. We took the lifts up there and were able to view more of the countryside. It truly is a beautiful place.

Random item of note: At the gift shops near the monastery of the big Buddha site, they were playing a Simon and Garfunkle song. The influence of the Western World is everywhere. Mostly in music, I’ve noticed. ^_^

Another random side note: We ate at a Pizza Hut in Hong Kong, and it was the most high-class restaurant I’ve been in in a while. Lol. It was the type of place with classical music where you had to eat the gourmet pizzas with a fork and knife…it was so different than the Pizza Huts in the states.

Our plane was delayed an hour in HK because of a typhoon coming in to Taiwan. But luckily, we made it to Taipei before it hit. That was Sunday night. Then on Monday, the typhoon hit and classes were canceled, once again. ^_^

1 comment:

Dad said...

Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. Glad you made it back to Taiwan safely! I saw your flickr account. There *must* be more pictures than that! Keep sharing!