Observations of Hong Kong

There is something inspiring about a really big city.  Now, you might suspect me of being sarcastic here, but I mean it: I am inspired by skyscrapers and subways and intricately designed public spaces. To me, a large city is akin to going to see the Pyramids or the Roman Coliseum, places that show what a small group of people with a plan and a large group of workers can create..like Tokyo, London, New York and Dubai.   

But, perhaps no other city is quite as impressive as Hong Kong.  Its core, on Hong Kong Island with skyscraper after skyscraper each reaching up to touch the summit of Victoria Peak, is fantastic.  Angela and I used our jet lag to full advantage on our first morning in Hong Kong, getting up at first light and taking the subway straight into the forest of glass and steel.  We walked through the midst of humanity (and doganity) and architecture to the station for the cog railway to Victoria Peak and enjoyed the anachronistic mode of transportation as it slowly churned its way up the steep grades.  After disembarking at the high station, we were treated to a spectacular overview of Hong Kong and all of its outlying territories on the mainland, across Victoria Harbour.   That first lookout is the best place to start to contemplate the vast, three-dimensional massiveness of Hong Kong.  The city goes on and on with almost every building visible towering at least 20 floors into the sky.  It's exhilarating to see what humans are capable of transforming their imaginative musings into solid steel and glass.

Of course, architecture is not the only art where the good folks of Hong Kong residents excel in; there's also food!  We ate extremely well in Hong Kong, especially at some of the Dim Sum restaurants.  The crispy pork we had at one restaurant is something I'll never forget.  It's probably possible to have a bad meal in Hong Kong, but we never managed it.  There is on beverage that is a little lacking in Hong Kong, though: Bolba or Bubble Tea, that Japanese creation with tapioca pearls in sweet, milky tea.  It's popular in several places in Asia, but despite the Yuen family's concerted efforts, we could find any shops that make Bubble Tea right.  Oh well, you can't have everything.  If it's Bolba Tea you want, visit Sam Woo Restaurant in San Diego.

We now pause for an unpaided political action paragraph:  Hong Kong is a very person-friendly place.  The public transportation is excellent, and the subway stations have free internet stations for everyone - they aren't chained down, you don't have to pay, nothing.  The computers are sitting there for anyone to use.  Can you imagine anywhere in the United States doing that?  I didn't think so.  Maybe President Obama will read my observations and start the same program in the D. C. Metro... hey, it could happen!  Kyle and Angela approved this message.  We now return to our regularly scheduled observations.

We made a pilgrimage to see the Big Buddha of Hong Kong with Angela's cousin Kermit, his wife Dora and their daughter Heather.  Well, maybe not an official pilgrimage, as we travelled by minivan and a ski-lift like aerial tram, but it felt like a pilgrimage when we stepped off the tram and were greeted by sheets of water pouring down on us from the jet black sky.  We were prepared (wearing our ponchos) but it was still a wet slog up to the Buddha's perch atop the hill.  We think the Buddha should be quite impressed with our dedication and fortitude.

And then there's horse racing.  A group of more than 10 of us went to TBD for an afternoon of racing, more great food, and some small wagers.  Everyone won at least one of their bets (though I'm not sure if anyone broke even for the whole day), the horses looked great running on the turf, and it was another quintessential, fabulous Hong Kong experience.