Saturday, October 6, 2007

top to bottom,

Me and my friends at the horseraces,

Me in Macau with some dragon dance festivities

Me inside the venetian casino in Macau

More inside the venetian, they really made it look like venice, including gondolas! Good thing I didn't loose any money!

Monday, October 1, 2007

life lessons in hong kong

So a month has passed since my last blahhhhhg entry and I've found that instead of relating stories of my visits to Macau, monkey mountain, lantau island, victoria's peak, and various other parts of hong kong, maybe I should just relate the simple details of life in hong kong. I've put together a sort of consortium of ideas which hong kong instills in us, so before I forget any i'll make a simple list.

Taxi vs. Bus
Meal price??
Ming Bao
sleeping in mcdonalds
I just came for my suit?

First off Soup. Soup is a mainstay in China, almost every meal has some kind of soup whether it is with the meal, on top of it, or on the side. The real trick is finding a meal without soup. I love soup, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I don't want boiling hot soup on my food. The other morning I was at our local canteen, I had just ordered what I hoped to be a deliscious meal of dumplings, noodles and chicken wings. I went up to the counter and the cook started putting it together. I was so pumped that I had finally found a meal I really wanted, and after he put the three pieces of the meal I said "Ok thanks no more, no more!" While smiling at me the cook simply poured soup all over the meal. He then smiled at me and said, "Sorrrryyyyy" Moral of the story, soup is life, live it love it and slurp it.

Ledo!!!! This is usually the best way to get a taxi driver/mini bus driver to stop. It translates literally to "Here" so usually when you say Ledo the taxi driver stops. One night coming back, we got on the mini bus 54 instead of 55. After driving entirely around the island, we yelled ledo to get him to stop, however the bus driver kept driving and asking Ledo? every 10 seconds, which he found hilarious, and we found slightly nerveracking. Finally, he dropped us off reasonably close and we decided to boycott public transportation the rest of the day. In Hong Kong, know which bus to take.

Which brings us to our next point, taxi vs bus. In Hong Kong, public transportation and taxis are pretty much everywhere. If you ever need to get somewhere, there is either a bus or taxi ready at hand. There are many differences however, and of course time differences. Buses hands down are my favorite mode of transportation in Hong Kong. Most busses are double deckers, very timely, and incredibly cheap. Bus drivers however, it seems that instead of conscription into the army, hong kong has a policy of conscription into the bus drivers. Everyone is mandated to spend 2 years driving buses, if they have liscences or not. Just joking mom, but seriously, Buses are like roller coasters, stopping within 3 inches of whatever is in front of it, and going at hairpin turns at serious speeds. If you want to see hong kong, ride the bus. Taxis here in hong kong are incredibly cheap, especially when split between people, they can be even cheaper than buses. The taxi drivers however never speak any english, so know exactly where you're going, and be prepared to help with directions as well.

Gambling is all over hong kong. From arcades, where people gamble on who will win fake horse races, to mahjong halls, to the enormous race track in the center of the city, to macau, the land of casinos. Asians love to gamble, every wednesday and sunday, thousands crowd into the horse track, and more bet at substations throughout the city, on the horse races. The horse track is unbelievable, enormous and modern. I was blown away by the sheer size, at least 20 stories tall, and half of the race track wasn't visible to gamblers. Luckily I only lost about 20 HKD, equal to about 3 dollars US, but I saw one guy who was screaming at the horses while they were warming up, really bizzare. Macau was a great experience in itself, it's main attractions however, are massive casinos. I was able to make about 200 HKD for the day, but I played it pretty safe. The venetian, Asia's largest casino was one of the truly craziest buildings I've ever seen, with a replica of venice inside complete with gondola's and painted skies, it was truly a sight to behold. Needless to say, gambling is banned on my floor in my dorm, as to the rampant gambling problem everywhere.

Chingrish, my engwish is good no? No need to say more, I love chingrish learning Putonghua is funny, but not fast, so it's easier to use random words including electric if you want a haircut.

Meal Price?? Most meals are incredibly cheap here in hong kong. The one catch is the drink. Like I said earlier, soup is a mainstay here, so most asians drink the soup and tea with their meals. I however, like most westerners, do not prefer a hot drink in the tropical weather of hong kong. In America, when you order a coke, you get a free refill usually. Here that is not customary. If you order a drink, you will pay for that one, and every single refill. I did not know this, and ordered a cherry coke. This turned out to be a 58HKD expense, or roughly 9 dollars US. Remember either drink the tea, or be prepared to pay for extra.

Ming Bao is the chinese word for bread. Often the chinese mistake brett for bread, and my name becomes ming bao. I prefer Lofu, which in chinese is Tiger, but apparently ming bao is catchier.

sleeping in mcdonalds. Everytime me and my friends go to the mcdonalds near us, there is this one older man sleeping in it. We have plenty of great photos with him and he has truly become a good friend. Entering mcdonalds as a westerner is always a bit uneasy for me, it seems too stereotypically american, but i think it is the closest to becoming like the locals as possible. They love mcdonalds here.

I just came for a suit? The other night me and a friend went to meet with a friend of his who was living in hong kong to pick up his suit. It turned out to be an all out adventure including break dancing on the roof of a building. Living abroad, you never know what a night is going to turn into, or even a random trip to pick up a suit. Always be willing to meet new people and do new things, in Hong Kong anything is possible, and it's just being willing to go beyond your norms that the city truly opens up.

I hope this has helped explain a bit more of hong kong, and if not I must sound pretty crazy!