Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Asia Adventure - Post 2 (Hong Kong)

Our friend Evan (former NYC resident) met us at the airport and introduced us to Hong Kong. As soon as we dropped our bags off, he whisked us off to the “ex-pat” area of town for some serious parting. He was taking us to the birthday party for some Indian girl who was a friend of a friend. We show up to this exclusive bottle service, velvet rope, club that originally baulked at my attire (tank top, nappy travel skirt, and flip flops) but eventually let me in because I had no other clothing choices (my luggage was lost somewhere on the northern hemisphere). The highlight of the evening was talking with Evan’s South African friend. She is a rather busty lady and after a few drinks she told us all about her recent adventure trying to find a bra that fit. Notably, the Asian women don’t have big boobs, so it would make sense that the stores would not offer anything larger than a C-cup. Well, like everything else in Asia, the actual size is much smaller than the listed size. Twin beds measure out to be a mere cot, women’s Medium fits like a child’s shirt, etc. Eventually she found a plus size store (the lone one in all of China) and got herself a size F bra. “F! Are you kidding me” she said to us.

Before the night was out, we toured the ex-pat area (also known as where the white people go) and stopped into some interesting bars. One was the Russian Ice bar, where you donned faux fur coats and sat on giant lumps of ice. Viewing the crowd from balconies above, looked more like New Orleans than China.

Our first breakfast in China was noodles from a street vender. Not terrible, but I quickly switched to the sweetened pastries for the remaining mornings. Acting as our tour guide, Evan took us downtown on the double-decker trolleys to ride on the world’s longest escalator. Cool in all, but after ten minutes we had our fill. We wandered around the Chinese medicine herb market and gawked at the weird dried plants and giant shark fins used for healing purposes. One thing we noticed was all of the people just hanging out on cardboard blankets in public places. Evidently the domestic servants (aka mostly Pilipino women slaves) get Sunday off. Since they don’t have any money for shopping or family to visit, they all hang out in the bus station lobby, park grounds, public square with other servants. Definitely a culture shock to turn the corner and see 500 women clustered together and just chatting.

After a quick lunch of soup and rice, we hoped on the “tram” to visit the Peak. The tram went up a 70deg angle mountain face where we were able to have great views of the city and the giant plummet down to the ground if the two 100 year old rails failed us. Up at the Peak, we were able to see all of Hong Kong and other nearby islands. On a good day, Evan says you can see mainland China. I frankly was surprised to see how mountainous the islands were.

Afterwards we decided to take the scariest ride ever on a double-decker bus. I swear every freaking form of public transportation was double-decker stacked. The bus twisted and turned up the side of mountains and careened around corners at breakneck speeds. Most of the time the edge of the road was met by a super steep cliff drop-off! Dana’s motion sickness and my fear of heights quickly made it the most embarrassing ride ever.
The bus ride ended on the other side of the Hong Kong island. Basically we went up and over the central mountains. Our destination was Stanley Pier, well that and the famed knock-off market. At the market, you could get fake purses, scarves, electronics, and even paintings. Yes, they had huge displays of copied Van Gough’s and Monet’s. I considered getting one since they came out to be about $10 US, but then I doubt any guest would believe that I had the real Starry Night in my living room.

Near the pier were two temples. The difficult one to find had an impressive 15m tall Buddha that was androgynous and completely baffled me. So, it is a guy….in a floral dress….with lipstick….okay.

I brought along a small notepad to write down funny or unusual things we said along the trip. Here are the select quotes from this leg of the journey:

Me (while walking around down town): What is that smell?
Gabby: Hong Kong!

Dana (at dinner): Seriously, you CAN’T whisper in Cantonese!
[editor’s note: so true, there is only two volumes for Cantonese, loud and louder]

Dana (to Evan after seeing some promo anime for the Olympics): Do you have any pandas running around here? I mean, do you ever see someone walk them around?

Olgawhispered to Gabby as we are trying to get a cab: Show some boobs!
Gabby: but what if the cab driver is an ass man?
All: DANA!

Dana (on our second morning in Hong Kong): I wonder what the weather is going to be like today?
[editor’s note: it was hot and humid EVERY day in Hong Kong]

Dana (loud and sarcastically to a guy in long sleeve shirt and pants): HEY, FYI it’s hot!

Evan (predicting what the second half of the horrible double-decker bus ride would be like): the ride will be nice and smooth.
Lindsay: yeah, but we will still be stuck with the puke.


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