Hong Kong and Macau: CULTURE SHOCK
14.10.2001 - 22.10.2001 27 °C
Whoa, another whirlwind of an adventure. Another summary....
HONG KONG: We took a train out of Wuhan into Shenzhen, where we could walk across the border to Hong Kong. After going through immigration and customs, we got on the subway to go to our hostel. There was an immediate difference simply crossing from one side to the other. Everything was clean and bright. Signs were written in both chinese characters and in English. There was a 7-11. People were wearing gloves as they handled people's food. No one was cutting in line. No one was screaming. There were no stares at my 2 blue-eyed travel companions. No one was smoking and spitting on the floor. It was completely refreshing. There was this anxiety that I started to get in China... the language barrier, people sounding like they're yelling at you, the strange stares, the deep throat hawker clearing spitting at your feet, people letting their children poop on the stairs of a tourist attraction, the filthy squat toilets, the "life flashing before your eyes" as you try to cross the street, and just crazy pollution (noise, air, and land).
Here's a few pics from Hong Kong:
Hong Kong was amazing. We were staying at the Mirador Mansion in the Sui Sui hostel. Not a mansion at all, just a huge dirty building piled with several hostels and tiny rooms. I was ready to stay at the Holiday Inn across the street without a doubt. We were in HK for 5 days, seeing the sites like: Victoria's Peak (a mountain with posh homes), SoHo (an area filled with cute bars and restaurants), The Ladies Market (bargain shopping for fake rolexes and souvenirs), the Jade Market, saw the skyline lightshow, went to Irish pubs, indulged at Starbucks. It was great. It really reminded me of London: cars driving on the left side, the double-decker buses, great customer service at the posh malls, the Tube system (the subway), and everyone spoke English. It seemed like a civilized (to our expectations) version of mainland China.
MACAU: Oct 20-Oct 23. We took a ferry to Macau after making some hectic arrangements in Hong Kong. Apparently, there was a huge convention and a national holiday going on, so Macau was packed with tourists. We had to stay on mainland China for one nite crossing borders several times. We stayed at this gaudy 5 star hotel called Dihao Holiday Hotel in Zhuhai. And again, there was that culture shock as we re-entered the mainland. The spitting, the filth, the line cutting, and the pushing came flooding back sooner than we welcomed. But it was funny.
We're now staying at the Hotel Guia in Macau, in a quiet part of the town. It took 2 hours to cross the border from the mainland. Most of it was waiting in the immigration line on the Chinese side. We then settled into our cute little hotel and walked around the town. Everyone calls Macau the Las Vegas of Asia. I can see the resemblance a little bit. There is the Wynn, the MGM Grand, and the Venetian (the largest in the world). There are bright lights. But still not as crazy and hectic as Vegas. Macau was a Portuguese port in Asia for hundreds of years (I think) and since 1994 was given back to China. There's lots of Portuguese influence here, the street names, lots of plazas with fountains, old churches (filled with the devout Catholic Filipinos haha), cars driving on the left side of the street and the food (esp the famous egg tarts). It's interesting... an old European town in China. It's really cute.
We walked the city on our first day and saw some churches and plazas.
We saw the A-Ma Temple, a buddhist temple, with huge coils of incense burning away:
We visited Sao Paolo, the famous ruins of an old church in Macau.
And today (22/10) we went BUNGY jumping... the worlds tallest 233 meters. It was awesome. It's not like sky diving or hang gliding...I was scared, but felt so exhilirated. So amazing. There's nothing like hanging your toes off the edge of a tower and seeing the bay and concrete beneath you. You jump and wait for this bungy cord (a huge rubber band) recoil you as you bounce around a few more times. Then you hang upside down taking free falls and wait as you get lowered down to the ground (upside down) until someone grabs your hands to lay you on a huge pillow. IT WAS CRAZY!!!
This is what we jumped off of:
We also wined and dined to a great Portuguese dinner last night. Neither Ellen or myself have had Portuguese food, and we tried it here for the first time, in China, of all places.
We're gonna hit up the Venetian (a casino) tonite. Then tomorrow we will be flying to Vientiane, Laos. Another exciting adventure....
See my travels thus far...