Friday, May 07, 2010

Okay, I'm really going to try to be good about updating on this trip, especially during this month of traveling. So the last few days in hong kong were a lot of fun, I made a nice german friend and we did a lot of shopping together. well, she shopped and i watched, because i'm trying not to spend money. also we tried to go out dancing in the bar district, and after downing half a bottle of vodka (and discovering that my special coca cola shot glass is a fake), we made it all the way over to the expat drinking area and discovered that there was no dance club to be found. i think perhaps we went to the wrong bar area, this was mostly middle aged business people having a beer with their friends. not wild at all. or it could have been because it was a wednesday.
thursday we went to one of the nearby islands called Lamma during the day, which was nice and relaxed. except we happened to be there on some sort of a holiday where people dress up in dragon costumes and proceed through the streets, stopping at every restaurant, where the restaurant owners make an offering of lettuce and explode lots of fireworks. i'm not sure exactly what the significance was, but i guess its supposed to bring luck and success to the restaurants. they also had lots of roasted pig, and i had a delicious piece.
the last night i participated in the german girl's photo project, which was to take photographs of people in all the cities she traveled to, wearing white tshirts and sparkly masks. she invited lots of people from couchsurfers,and about five showed up. it was lots of fun, and i wished i'd met some locals earlier in the week, as it really brought the city to life. but oh well.
yesterday i flew to taiwan, to the southern city of kaohsiung.the hostel is really nice and chill, though everyone here seems to be long-term expats rather than backpackers. i guess i'm not surprised though, its kind of a random place to go if you're a backpacker, expensive to get to and doesn't really offer as wide of a range of experiences as mainland china. the expats are nice though, the kind of people who like to sit around chatting and drinking a beer all night, then sleep in the next day. this city has quite a relaxed feel, and i could see the days just kind of passing here. this is my second day, and i'm still just starting to get headed out to see the sights. i basically sat around all morning eating some cold noodles and watching the scooters drive by on the streets.
i'm also going to try to get serious about my chinese again, as i basically took the whole month of april off from studying. i met a really nice taiwanese girl last night who's friends with this canadian couple that just moved here to live permanently, and she said i could practice my chinese with her. so that's cool, and just being out in the streets ordering food etc gives me a chance to use my chinese. i'm rusty, but hopefully after a month i'll be better. okay, i should go explore now, off i go!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Okay, so I just read over my last post, and i realized it was kind of a downer. Not a great way to start off a three-month trip. The two days since I wrote that entry have been a lot better. Yesterday I went over to an island called Peng Chau that is about a half an hour ferry from Hong Kong island, which was a nice trip in itself. The island was cute, it took about an hour to walk its circumference, and offered some pretty amazing views. The island reminded me a lot of southeast asia, as it had the same kind of vegetation including wild bananas, but also had a distinctly chinese feel. It was really relaxed, and couldn't have been more different from the urbanity of Hong Kong. On our return, we decided to check out a light show on the hong kong harbor (i spent the day with a girl i met in my hostel, who incidentally is on an 8-month travel fellowship, goddammit). On the way we noticed that there was a free concert being given by the Hong Kong symphony in the harbor, so we decided to watch that instead. It was pretty awesome, the orchestra was entirely composed of traditional chinese instruments, particularly a lot of erhus. We could also see the light show in the background, and it turned out it was kind of crap, so we were glad we didn't travel across the bay to kowloon just to see that.
Today I took the lonely planet's walking tour of a neighborhood all the way to the west, it was a really interesting look at hong kong's historic neighborhood. i could really envision the british colonial experience, and it made the history i've been studying come alive. Also i was browsing at an antique shop and dropped a bottle of something on my foot, which broke the bottle and also made my foot bleed. I decided, rather than telling the guy i broke the bottle i would just buy something else at the price he asked for it, so neither of us would get totally screwed over. So I got a little shot-sized coca cola glass from the 1960! it's really cool, and i payed 12 bucks for it, so i think everyone wins. also, a very nice woman in a coffee shop helped me clean my foot up, and put antibacterial on it and everything.
A lot more wandering ensued, though i can't really think of anything interesting enough to report about. Hong Kong is growing on me though, so maybe (hopefully) in the end i won't regret spending the time here. Over and out.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Another NYC Blog is back, baby! Now that I am out of ny, i again have a reason to update this blog. So I'm currently in Hong Kong, where I'll be hanging out for the week before heading over to taiwan. I wasn't that excited about going to hong kong, as i think it is more of a city for living in than for visiting, but i had to leave a week between arriving in hong kong and going to taiwan in case my visa didn't work out. So far, its been pretty eh. I got in at around 2 yesterday (2 pm hong kong time, 2 am new york time). My flight had been awesome, and its actually the first time in about 5 years that i would consider using an airline for a second time. Cathay Pacific. They served a lot of meals, which were pretty tasty, and the movie and tv choices were amazing. I slept for most of the flight, because i only got an hour of sleep the night before, and the seats also had a cool way of reclining by sliding the bottom of the seat forward rather than tilting the back, which meant that i didn't have the seat in front of my in my face the whole time.
So I took the Airport Express from the airport to my hostel, and that all went very smoothly, which was nice because i was a bit anxious on arrival to hong kong, a moment of what the hell am i doing traveling by myself in a strange country where i don't know anyone. i was happy that it was still light out, and the shady hostel was much how i expected, even down to the fact that they told me i had to sleep on the floor, even though i had booked the hostel months in advance. That had actually also happened to me the last time i was in Hong Kong, so it almost seemed normal.
I went to sleep at around 9, and woke up at 630 ready for action. Unfortunately, Hong Kong isn't really that kind of city, so i waited around until 830 for another of my hostel mates to wake up, and then finally decided just to head out on my own. I walked all over the kowloon area where my hostel is, which mostly consisted of looking through lots of shops. I returned to my hostel around 11:30 excited to take a nap, as my excursion had thoroughly exhausted me. Unfortunately, the nap was not to be. They told me that I was upgraded to sleeping on one of the bunkbeds, and as I walked over to check it out, i notice a bed bug on the floor under the bed. I remembered that the girl who had been sleeping there had mentioned getting lots of bites on her feet, and although she had not thought it was bedbugs, i think she was wrong. So, bleh. I took the ferry and then the trolley over to the hostel i had booked for the remaining nights, to see if they had room for me tonight. They did, and so I took the trolley and the ferry back, picked up my stuff, tried to get my money refunded and failed, and then took the mta over to the new hostel.
The new hostel is not that much nicer, and it costs 20 a night instead of 7. As I was settling in, one of my roommates came in the room, and we started chatting. She said that she had stayed in the hostel for several nights, but this was only her second night in this room. When i asked why she had switched rooms, she said that she had bed bugs in the other room. Fuck! She said she hadn't been bitten last night though, so hopefully this room is okay. I am really regretting not giving myself a shorter turnover in hong kong; i'll be here till friday. but whatever, if you were never down, how would you know when you were up, right?