Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day/Hong Kong, Day 5

So first, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM! I love you and hope you had fun today.

Now on to Hong Kong...

Today was probably one of the busier days I've had here in Hong Kong. No doubt, there is plenty to do here, and even as I am trying to fit everything into the 6 days I'm going to be here, I keep finding more things to do, and realizing I am not going to have enough days to do them!

As promised in yesterdays blog, I decided the first thing I would do is go to the science museum. Now the Hong Kong Science Museum shares the same area as the history museum (although they are separate buildings). After going through the history museum on Friday, I was expecting the science museum to blow me away. I was thinking there would be a lot of state of the art 3-D animations (which I was planning on taking notes on...), really cool science related tools and devices, and maybe some cool interactive things.

Wellllll, not quite. It reminded me of Discovery Place in Columbia. The museum was definitly geared towards a younger crowd - maybe middle school aged. They did have some cool things there, but they had a lot of stuff that was both dated and quite bad. Here is a video of one of the interactive games I was able to play:

But the museum also had a "Biodiversity in China" exhibit. It was kind of cool, although again below my expectations. It was very cool to see preserved animals such as a Red Panda, Vulture, a Takin (one of my favorites...) and many other kinds of animals. This museum was a bit more expensive too, costing $HK 35, or about $5.

So I spent about an hour there and proceeded to get lunch. Now after my McDonald's binge yesterday, the mere thought of a Big Mac made both my liver and kidneys ache. So I was thinking I would eat fresh - Subway. So I jumped on the ferry, crossed the river and ate at Subway.

After that, I crossed back over the river, planned on going to the Space Museum, realized it was mostly just a movie museum and headed next door to the art museum. Now the Hong Kong Museum of Art was pretty good. It is 4 stories (or maybe 5) tall with one large exhibit hall per floor. The art museum served almost more as an early Chinese artifact museum than an art museum. The first floor had a caligraphy exhibit, and the top floor housed a 30-plus piece exhibit of Wu Guanzhong's pieces, but the rest of the floors had pottery, gods, people, snuff bottles, and a lot of gold artifacts. The art museum was very inexpensive too, costing $HK 10. I think there is a correlation of higher quality/lower admission price...

So after leaving there, I decided that I was going to take a ride around Victoria Harbor. Now apparently Travel Magazine (or something like that) said it was one of the 50 "must-do" things to do when you travel. So why not? The Star Ferry Harbor Tour company does 60-minute tours, which are very nice. It reminded me of when I was in Ottawa and did the river tour there. There is just something about being on a boat that is both relaxing and invigorating. I learned a few things, such as an observation deck on the top of the Bank of China building (which I plan on visiting tomorrow), as well as this building being the tallest in Hong Kong:

Ironically (and I'm embarrassed to say this) I learned what HSBC stood for. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. I remember thinkking to myself when I got here, "Man, HSBC sure has a lot of ads here in Hong Kong..."

But the tour was really nice, and I would recommend it to anyone. I would say that you might want to do it your first day or two here, that way you can mark out the places you want to go when you're on Hong Kong Island.

After that, I ferried back across the water (I told you I was going to ride that thing a lot today...) and got Subway again. My body rejoiced (although for dinner I did go to the darkside...McDonalds)

Which puts me to now. I do have a few things I want to write about my observations on the differences between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

First, there are actually trashcans in Hong Kong. In Taiwan, you literally cannot find a trashcan. They do not exist there. In Hong Kong, it's like being back in the States. You walk to the end of the block and there is a trashcan. Such a novel idea.

Second, they drive on the wrong side of the bloody road here. It's almost gotten me killed here a few times. But it's nice that they paint on the road by the curb "Look Left" or "Look Right".

But being that they still have the British way of driving here, that means there are no American modeled cars here in Hong Kong. And I'm not saying that for dramatic effect. There are NO American made cars here (Jaguar is now Indian for those of you thinking that...)

Third, I've seen very very VERY few mopeds. Quite the contrast from Taipei. I have also seen many many MANY high dollar luxury cars here. I have seen a good number in Taiwan too, but I'm talking 700-series BMW's, the big Mercedes, and Ferrari's.

Fourth, the diversity of Hong Kong (being it is only 5% of the population) is still kind of surprising to me. You might not think it a big deal, but being in a place where pretty much everyone is Taiwanese for 3 months, diversity becomes almost exotic. And being in February I was in DC, Philly and Boston, I wouldn't have thought I would be taken aback by this.

Fifth, a little geopolitical understanding of Hong Kong:

Hong Kong is a special administrative region that is overseen by China. Hong Kong and Kowloon were "leased" to Great Britian after the First and Second Opium Wars (I know if you are a historian, you want to slap me, but just go with the macro picture here...) The lease was for 99-years, which took it up to July 1, 1997. That is also the day that the UK gave back ownership of Hong Kong to mainland China. In the agreement though, China agreed to let Hong Kong have an autonomous government for "at least 50 years". The only thing Hong Kong and China are connected to are foreign relations and military protection (no biggies, right...)

Anyhow, I found out that China has a quota of 150 "one way visas" for mainlanders who want to move to Hong Kong and be with family that are already here. Now Hong Kong is autonomous until "at least" 2047. I'm just saying that these quotas equal to 54,750 people per year, or over 2.7 million people (not including children they may have) over a 50-year timeframe.

Being that Hong Kong's population currently is a bit over 7 million, you could imagine even with normal growth, if the quotas only stay the same over the next 37 years, there will be a lot of "Red" influence when the "at least 50 years" question comes up - and with it Hong Kong's autonomy.

I could dive a little deeper, but I don't want to bore you with the theorhetical.

Instead, I'll leave you with this:

Until next time...

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