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2005-03-24

Hong Kong (03/08 - 03/11)

The night scene from 'Peak' is breath-taking. HK is not that big. On my day off, I walked about 9 hrs and took several pictures.

I started from Cosmopolitan Hotel in Wan Chai and walked towards 'Center' which hosts the financial center and spectacular buildings like that of International Finance Center (IFC), HSBC, Bank Of China, Cheung Kong Center etc. It was not a sunny day but it was not cold either. I was told that weather is usually OK and does not get cold much. Unlike Tokyo, where summers are really terrible, HK was OK. Like Tokyo, HK has a 'Times Square' too but it really sucks! It was a tiny square with no attractions at all. I was not expecting much as the area surrounding it implied but hey you can't just name anywhere Times Square.

So I kept on walking towards the bay and arrived at HK Convention Center. It's a beautiful building next to ocean. Next to the convention center, I've seen the ferries that were carrying people to Macau which was acquired back from Portugal a few years ago. Macau was an attractive place for tourist and had plenty of casinos. Although I was tempted, I did not take the ferry to Macau (and I think I will regret that for sometime as I heard wild comments from my friends who have been there).

HK is a city of skyscrapers (http://www.skyscraperpicture.com/hongkong.htm). IFC is the current tallest (~415m/1,362f tall, 88 stories, 2003) and it is probably the most beautiful building I've ever seen! It was very close to Mandarin Hotel where I stayed. I think I can safely say Mandarin is in the 'center' of 'Center'. I visited IFC and asked the security over there if they had an observation deck. They said no but mentioned that I could go up to 55th floow where there was an exhibit by HK Monetary something. Oh, currency is HK$: 1 US$ is about 7.5 HK$. So, I went up to 55th floor and took some pictures. Unfortunately they did not come out that well because of the lighting. I did not mind much as I had already taken some from the office which happened to be on the 65th floor of Cheung Kong Center.

Taxis are quite cheap. First 2 kms. is 15 HK$ and the city is so small that you can probably ride anywhere with 10-15 US$. Almost all building in the 'Center' are connected to each other with bridges that hangs over the road. We realized that you have to use these overhead-bridges when we were trying to cross street. We were seeing the building we want to arrive, it waas about 50m away but it was not possible to get there without using the overhead bridges.

I also discovered the Mid Levels which has 800m of escalators, the longest in the world. One side of HK is surrounded by mountains and they are close to ocean. So there is not much space available and city gets higher and higher closer to the mountain. At the top of the mountain, there is a place called 'Peak'. We had a delicious dinner over there and took some pictures. You can see Richard, Yuko, me and Daisuke in one of them. I like Chinese food in US but it was different in HK. I tried pigeon eggs and chicken fingers which does not look so good and does taste great either. I guess I prefer the American version :) Overall, it was a nice experience...
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