Sunday, December 4, 2011

First morning, or "You're In $%^&ing Hong Kong"

Check-in time at my hotel was 3:00 p.m., so I checked my suitcase at a left-luggage office and set out bleary-eyed but wired for a full day of being a tourist. I think I kept saying to myself, "You're in $%^&ing Hong Kong."

The building with the little round windows is Jardine House, as in Jardine-Matheson, one of the giant English trading firms that dominated the early decades of the colony. The design, according to my books, has earned it the nickname, "House of a Thousand Orifices" (or a less polite term, but I'm trying to keep this relatively clean). Inevitably, some say it's not really the windows being referred to. The one with the two antennas on the left is the Bank of China Building. We will see much more of that one too.

(The tentacles, they are everywheeerre.)
Best shot I could get of a couple of the hawks that soar around above the city:

Why can't we have double decker buses in New York? Behind is the walkway to the ferry piers.


Above is the International Commerce Center, just officially opened to the public early this year - tallest building in HK, fifth tallest in the world, if I recall correctly. To give you an idea of the scale: it doesn't look like it, but it's actually on the other side of the harbor from where I'm standing here.

I just got lucky with the pictures below - the clouds did just the right thing just as I got to the waterfront. The first weekend was actually some of the nicest weather in the whole trip - it was overcast or cloudy for the majority of the time.

This is the new Central Pier, a faux old-style one controversially replacing the real old-style one that was torn down. Hong Kong is pretty ruthless about razing old buildings, and there isn't a whole lot of historical architecture standing. The beginnings of a preservationist movement are budding, slowly.

On the side of the truck on the right, my first glimpse of a HK movie star ad: the wonderful character actor Eric Tsang for the Kee Wah Bakery chain. Hard to believe this is the same guy who played the mob boss in the cop thriller Infernal Affairs, which was remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed with Jack Nicholson in the part.

Source: CinemaIsDope
My first view of one of the famous Star Ferry line that's been puttering back and forth between the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon sides of Victoria Harbor for 113 years.

In Hong Kong, even old fishermen have cute cartoon bags.

Plans for the waterfront...

... but there's still lots of work to do:

Here's an idea Manhattan should really borrow: the Central Walkways, a pedestrian network that crisscrosses Central, the teeming main business and government district, allowing you to walk all over much of the area up above the traffic, sometimes passing straight through buildings. Usually malls.

"Really? Dang."
Source: Falconry Forum

It took me a while to get over being startled at the occasional Communist Chinese flag fluttering (outside a shopping mall in this case). Sometimes I'm such an American. The white symbol on the red flag is the bauhinia flower that's the official symbol of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after its return to China.

Two men about to be chewed into cud by one of the giant robot bovines that roam HK unchecked. It was one of the more shocking things I saw while there:

These two are for my fellow New Yorkers, who may be wondering what HK taxis and phone booths look like:

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