Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Hong Kong trip.

Hong Kong has been fun.

My first time in HK was 3-4 years ago and franky, I thought HK stank. It was boring, since all the places I went were just shopping malls selling international brands that I could find ANYWHERE in the freakin' world.

The only bit of HK-ness I came into contact with on my first trip was probably all the fast Cantonese chatter the salesgirls said to me. Of course, I couldn't understand anything, and even my English was uncontrollably dumbed down to "No no.. don't understand." Perhaps I was unconsciously trying to do the whole "I'm a tourist from a land so far away and I don't understand your language" thing. What a patronising goon I was.

Yeah. That was my first trip.

This is my 2nd visit to Hong Kong and my first time at Victor's place. This is somewhat like the beginning of (what seems to be a VERY long term) Long Distance Relationship.

I've finally got to spend some quality time with Victor after months of separation. It was nice, and being the person that I am, there were plenty of awkward moments with his family.

It's not easy, since my Cantonese has suffered tremendously due to lack of practice. You see, I couldn't speak a word of the dialect when I first met Victor. So, in order to communicate better and do away with writing on paper, miming and my sign language, I picked up Cantonese.

Anyway, it's a long story. Conclusion: Many awkward pauses when I spoke to his parents in Cantonese.

Food, glorious food!

This is takoyaki, a Japanese snack originated from Osaka. This is a shop that sells JUST takoyaki and the queue is unbelievably long. We queued so long my left leg went numb, just for 6 takoyaki. But it was worth all the numbness in my leg and HKD$24.

Of course, going to HK will not be complete without a trip to The Magical Kingdom, The Happiest Place On Earth.

-- the train to Disneyland!

Do not be fooled by the friggin' map guide. The park looks huge and full of attractions in the guide, but it is actually very small. What seems like a long trek round the park, takes only 20 minutes tops.

But do I care? NOooooooo!

I went on all the rides, except the stupid Cinderella's Carousel and Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides. I think I'm overaged for that.

And I got Mickey ice cream just because it's in the shape of Mickey's head. Coolio! HKD$15.

And of course, anyone who knows me will shake their heads in despair because I have once again bought something based solely on appearance. Even if that ice cream is puke-flavoured, I will still buy it and maybe NOT eat it JUST BECAUSE it is in the shape of Mickey's head.

There are plenty of cutesy Disney merchandise all over the park to lure you over to the dark side. I must say that the Great Disney Corporation is very good at marketing and packaging. Just one look at the tiny Mickey stuff makes you go "Awww.. that's so cute!" and before you know it, you'll be parting with hundreds of dollars just to bring part of Disney's cute and useless merchandise home.

Just like I did.

Well, I guessed I put up a valiant attempt at fighting the inexplicable urge to buy Minnie Mouse's headgear and Mickey's Gloves. Freaking cute, but there's no way in hell I'm going to wear them on the street.

Anyway the ticket to Disneyland costs HKD$295, and it's considered expensive since the park is too small to warrant such an expensive entry fee. However, I feel that the awesome fireworks EVERY EVENING makes up for it.

Good lord, I nearly stopped breathing when the lights dimmed and fireworks adorned the night sky above Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

And yes!!! Bloody Mickey and co. speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin! Imagine my shock when 2 baboons spoke Cantonese to the crowd during The Lion King's Festival of Life play.

"Wah.. Simba ge shuk shuk, Scar, yew hoi koi ah!"

Totally worth my HKD$295 just to see all this. With the exception of the Dumbo ride.

Hong Kong is a very very very very crowded place. Plus, the houses are freaking small. And by houses, I mean apartments and NOT landed property. Signboards hang from EVERY corner and hawkers are peddling local fare on street corners. Plenty of jostling on the street and people talk over one another because it's too noisy.

Not that all these are bad, of course.

Despite my personal bias against crowds and loud noises, Hong Kong emanates some sort of vibe which makes all these part of the Hong Kong culture. Without all the signboards, from miniscule ones to gigantic big-ass ones you can probably see from space, Hong Kong will just be another sterilized conformist city in Asia.

Can't wait for Victor to come visit me!

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