It’s That Time Again – Summer Trip 2007

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Summer time means free time which means I’m outta here. Going back to Hong Kong to see Ann and eat pork buns and then to Shanghai to eat pork dumplings. Then back to Japan in 3 weeks where there will be decidedly less consumption of pork.

Since I’m a cheapskate I bought the cheapest ticket I could find. The cheapest tickets are always with Air India. But their cheap tickets were only 10 day fix. Recently a China Air plane burned down on the runway in Okinawa, so their flights were cheap too, but again only 10 day fix. The cheapest tickets I could find for a +21 day journey were on China East. Not my favorite airline and a stopover in Shanghai wasn’t ideal, but the price was right.

As I sat at Kansai airport waiting for my flight I realized I’d lost the fancy pink sticker I was supposed to wear when I got to Shanghai. Since I didn’t yet have a Chinese visa, I couldn’t yet get into the country. But since I was only transiting, it should be okay. Except I lost that damn sticker. Oh well. I’m sure I could just explain thing to Chinese immigration…

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Well, I made it through with minimal hassle. Got my transfer ticket, but had to go through normal customs with all the folks with visas. No quick bypass for stickerless-me. This meant I had to go back through security to get to my gate. At least Shanghai’s international airport was a whole lot nicer than Beijing’s.

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Though I had no money in Chinese RMB. I managed to grab all my HK money (about $130HKD) from my drawer o’ foreign monies, but instead of my leftover Chinese RMBs I grabbed my Taiwanese dollars. I was hungry since the food on the flight to Shanghai sucked.

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And it wasn’t much better on the flight to Hong Kong, but at least they were both short flights. After 13 hour flights to the States, 2 hour flights are no sweat. But passing through security twice, waiting for a flight twice, and passing through immigration twice kicked my ass. adultoctopuscard.jpgI got in to Hong Kong at 7pm ready to crash. Fortunately Hong Kong has its shit together, and together with Ann we were on a bus bound for the hotel in 10 minutes and it only took a swipe of the Octopus card Ann bought for me. An Octopus card is a rechargeable smart card that you can swipe on any train, any bus, trams, minibuses, (HK has a kick-ass, cheap, easy to use public transportation network) and at drug stores, 7-11s, McDonald’s, vending machines and lots of other places like parking meters and movie tickets. Because of the $50HK deposit, you can even go into negative amounts on a charge. There are cellphones, wristbands, key chains, and watches that can act as your octopus card. Things like this make me wonder what the hell Japan is doing. Supposedly the most technologically advanced country on earth, smart cards are barely becoming widely used whereas they’ve been in wide use in Hong Kong for nearly a decade (they debuted exactly 10 years ago). They are used for some limited stores in Japan and for most train networks in large cities, but the lack of compatibility and limited use looks really bad when compared to the elegance of Octopus cards in HK which are used by over 95% of the population.

But screw all that, I was tired and happy to be on the way to the hotel. It’s about 45 minutes from the airport to Hong Kong/Kowloon. It felt great to be back in Hong Kong. Our hotel was in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, right off Nathan Road. A really vibrant area with a lot of shops nearby. After putting our bags away we headed off for food. I left the big camera at the hotel because I was sick of carrying it, which meant I had to fight with my little point and shoot.

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Our hotel was right across the street from Knutsford Terrace. Following an escalator between a pair of buildings, you come to an alleyway hidden behind some buildings filled with great (pricey) restaurants and pubs. We had the only thing I could think of to start off a Hong Kong vacation. Meat pizza and Carlsberg beer.

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~ by foomfoom on August 25, 2007.

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