Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hong Kong (Again): Mini-Northwestern Reunion

Two weekends ago I had to go to Hong Kong again as required by my visa rules. I went a little earlier than I needed to because a friend of mine, Dara, from Northwestern was planning a trip through Asia and was going to stop in Hong Kong for awhile. Mr. Dara Dowlatshahi is now a PhD student at Stanford and he had just finished an important part of his PhD, so he was doing some celebrating. I figured I might as well meet up with him so I could hang out with some friends and also take care of the re-entry I needed for my visa. The people I normally meet up with from Northwestern in China weren't able to come for this weekend, so I ended up staying with Dara at his friend Peter Park's apartment. Peter and one of his roommates also went to Northwestern, so it appears that this weekend was slowly forming into some kind of a Northwestern reunion. I flew down to Hong Kong from Hangzhou on Friday and arrived in the downtown area in the early afternoon. Dara had already met up with Peter, so I met up with them at Peter's office building. Peter had to keep working, so Dara and I did a little wandering around on our own. We did a lot of catching up since it had been at least one or two years since we had last seen each other. We also caught some nice views of the city.
Bank of China Building
Hong Kong Night Street View
Once Peter and his roommate Ike finished work, we all met up for an excellent hot pot dinner. A hot pot dinner basically has one or two different kinds of boiling broths in which you cook thin slices of meat, meatballs, or vegetables at your table. After dinner we went out in Lan Kwai Fong and meet up with even more Northwestern people. It was pretty crazy, definitely the most people I had seen from Northwestern since I have been in China. One girl, Sherry, even worked at Deloitte in Chicago for two years before coming to China, just like me. Seems that it is truly a small world.
Dara and Wes
Peter, Amy, Dara, Wes, and Sherry (NU people)
The next day, we first went and got some dim sum for brunch. Then, a few of us went on a short hike call the "Dragon's Back". It is called that because the path goes up and down a few small peaks that look like the bones in a dragon's back. The weather was great, although it was really windy at some of the peaks. The views were amazing and you could see the ocean, islands, beaches, golf courses, high rises, and pretty much anything else. Truly a reminder that Hong Kong has something to suit nearly anyone's tastes.
Ocean and Island View Ike, Wes, Peter, and Dara Golf Anyone? Beach and Ocean
That night we went and saw two of the major tourist sites in town. First, we went to the Avenue of the Stars, which is similar to the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Basically, it has a bunch of stars on the walkway for famous Actors and Actresses, such as Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Since the Avenue of the Stars is across the bay from Hong Kong island on the Kowloon side, there is also an amazing view of the Hong Kong skyline. At nighttime it is especially cool with all the buildings lit up.
Hong Kong Skyline
Bruce Lee Statue
After seeing the Avenue of the Stars, we went back to the Hong Kong side and took the tram up to the Peak. The Peak offers a great view of the Hong Kong skyline from above and is also great to see at night. It was very windy at the top and very cold at night, so we basically just took some pictures and a minute or two to soak in the view, then left. I tried a few different settings on my camera and took around 300 pictures, so here are two of the better takes.
Skyline View
Skyline View
So windy that even my hair was blown back
The next day, Sunday, unfortunately my time in Hong Kong was at an end. Everytime I go to Hong Kong I realize how much I like the city. It really has something to offer for everyone and I especially enjoy the ocean, the skyline, and the surrounding mountains. Although, it's pretty expensive compared to mainland China and most people there roll pretty deep. Most people make money in Hong Kong and spend it in China because their money goes a long way there. I'm making my money in China and spending it in Hong Kong. I think I'm doing it wrong... Here are some more pics of Hong Kong: http://picasaweb.google.com/wallred10/HongKongNUReunion#