Nei ho mah to all you gwailoes
Well we are currently hanging out in our hotel in Wan Chai in Hong Kong and Gung Hey Fat Choi everyone… It’s just turned into the year of the Dragon!
Now we learnt a valuable lesson tonight since we decided to take Kitson to the waterfront at Wan Chai to see the fireworks over the harbour. But they were so loud that she freaked out completely and made us realise that 12 months old is probably not a great age to watch fireworks especially when the noise reverberates off the skyscrapers so it’s even louder than usual.
So after our last blog, we managed to get Avril a new passport in Hanoi and scooted across to Hong Kong a few days ago to catch up with my dad and see how Chinese New Year goes down in Hong Kong… and really… we totally shouldn’t have bothered… because other than the fireworks over the harbour… it SUCKS!!!!
Now back home in Australia, Chinese New Year definitely gets Chinatown pumping so we thought that coming over to Hong Kong to experience Chinese New Year here would be awesome… but what we didn’t realise is that it’s actually a 9 day holiday here so all the locals have decided to just piss off and go overseas on holidays!!!
Oh Man… the place is a friggin ghost town. Shops that are normally open all the time are shut down and heaps of restaurants have also shut down.
Now Hong Kong without shopping is simply dismal! Especially when it is also bleak and cold and drizzly. This is simply NOT the time to come to Hong Kong.
Not to mention that the main holidayers here in Hong Kong seem to be mainland Chinese and right now there is a big animosity going on between Honkers and Mainland China after a Uni Professor in China called Hong Kong people dogs, and after a Chinese parent was admonished for letting her child eat on the MTR subway which is against the rules. Apparently she totally went off against Hong Kong people despite being in the wrong and of course it was all uploaded to YouTube.
But surprisingly despite all the animosity the mainland Chinese seem to be bringing a lot of cash into Honkers. We cruised around Tsim Sha Tsui the overpriced touristy area of Hong Kong and there were Louis Vuitton shops with queues out the door and around the corner. Not just one but several… which is unusual to start with… having several flagship stores in 1 area.
One of our friends told us that the mainland Chinese coming to Hong Kong will often go into a high end shop like that and they’ll ask for several bags in different colours to take back home. Apparently that’s because in China, you still need to bribe people to get by and if you use money then it alerts the authorities that you have a lot of cash which apparently isn’t a good thing to do. So genuine high end goods have become the new bribery money.
I don’t know if any of that is true but definitely those Chinese are loaded with cash and spending heaps.
Amazingly throughout our travel in Vietnam we saw the same things with Russians who were also loaded with cash and throwing it around. It totally blew us away that these 2 communist countries are doing pretty good right now with surplus cash while the democratic world’s economy is choking bigtime!
So anyways what do we think about Hong Kong.
Well personally I have a love hate relationship with the place. I left Hong Kong when I was age 3 to grow up in Australia, and didn’t go back there again until I was 12.
Now growing up in a small Aussie country town and being one of only 2 Asian families in that town definitely made me not really fit in.
Especially when all the locals were into cricket and football back in the 70’s and 80’s and I was into geeky art and comic books which was just unheard of.
So when I first came back to Hong Kong in 1983 I remember crying since it really felt like I had come home… since all the non-Aussie interests that I had were common place over here and everyone looked like me. I actually fitted in for the first time!!! It actually amazes me that although I grew up western I definitely gravated towards Asian geekiness which suggests it may be nature and not nurture that makes Asians dig asian things.
Well since then I have been back to Hong Kong many times but generally all of our trips over here usually involved almost no sight seeing but instead checking out toys shops, collectables shops, pirated computer game shops, and pop culture shops, asian cinema DVD shops, camera shops, and buying fake Ralph Lauren polo shirts for work from the market in Mongkok. Man I actually normally buy about 30 shirts which lasts me 3-4 years before I have to come back and buy more.
Man I used to love doing all that stuff and even Avril got right into it as well. But it’s a shame because over the years Hong Kong is no longer cheap for those things, and also now you can get things online much cheaper direct from China and Malaysia so those shops have lost their appeal. Also the market in pirated computer games disappeared with online downloading so our favourite geek place in Wan Chai building 188 has also become a shadow of its former greatness.
So although I really used to love Hong Kong for all those things, the hate part of it is that I always feel so unhealthy in Hong Kong. I don’t know what it is but I think the smog really does hit me hard. Not only that but we seem to always get sore feet which I reckon is from the continuous concreteness of the place since we can hike for hours in the bush and not get as sore in our feet.
And also whenever we go to Hong Kong we always seem to be rushing from one restaurant to another for yum cha or dinner or afternoon tea.
Man… that’s the problem for us going to Hong Kong in that we always seem to have to meet with relatives or friends and the thing to do in Hong Kong is to always eat. Sometimes we get to the point where we just crave a salad or a sandwich.
And the final thing I hate about Hong Kong is that since I don’t speak chinese, they treat me like a pariah. To the point where sometimes I get Avril to do all the talking and I just appear dumb!
So I reckon this could be one of the last times I come here for a while. Or at least if we do we may need to sneak in and not tell relatives so we can just be normal tourists.
Anyway, we’ll be back in Brissie soon.
Gung Hey Fat Choi
Ced the banana – yellow on the outside but white on the inside
Avril the fasian – fake asian
Kitson the deaf