Sunday, March 22, 2009

Long time no blog

I don't like to travel with my computer. I travel light, and don't like the additional weight (physical and mental) of dragging a computer around with me, so it's been a couple weeks since I have had a chance to update my blog.

One of the best things about living in France is that you are so close to the rest of Europe, so many exotic (to an American) and famous world cities are just a train or short plane ride away. So for my first real vacation since moving here I went to Hong Kong!

Yeah, that Hong Kong. The one just about on the other side of the planet from me. The one that is about a 13 hour flight from Paris. My sister-in-law got married last week, so I dusted off my old suit (which I bought in Hong Kong for a previous wedding, and haven't worn since) and George put on her brand new fake converse (see picture below) and we took off for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a great city. George grew up there, and most of her family is there, so we go there quite a bit. I always eat too much, buy too much junk, and take thousands of crappy pictures of all the cool buildings. This trip was very family focused though so I mostly just ate too much, only bought a little bit of junk, and really didn't take that many pictures, although most are still crappy.

Hong Kong seems much greener than the last time I went. But maybe it is just because I was coming from one of the greenest cities on the planet, Seattle, and now I am coming from Lyon which prefers brown gravel and concrete to grass? Every road seems to have a nice green median with palm trees and tropical plants, every street is newly lined with trees. And there seems to be more parks.

Hong Kong seemed much cleaner too. The air and water quality still needs a lot of attention, but the streets were a lot cleaner, and there was less graffiti than I remember. There are also recycle bins all over the city now!

Hong Kong is cheap! An extra value meal at McDs in Lyon is about 6.5 Euros, an extra value meal in Hong Kong is about 2.5 Euros (too bad I don't like McDonalds :-(). The first night George and I stayed in Hong Kong we ate dinner at a small street vendor for less than 3 Euros--for two people! Basic electronics are really cheap too. I got a VGA cable to connect my notebook to my TV for 1.5 euros. They cost about 15 euros at the local FNAC. Rent will cost you about 3 times more than in Lyon, but as a tourist not worrying about things like rent, your money goes a long way.

Hong Kong is hot. It is still technically winter in Hong Kong, but it was about 25 degrees (nearly 80 degrees fahrenheit) on average every day we were there. It was 0 when my return flight landed in Lyon (32 degrees fahrenheit).

Not quite so crowded? Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. Seattle, not so much so, but Lyon is quite dense too. On previous trips I always felt a bit cramped because of the crazy amount of people everywhere in Hong Kong, but now that I am used to the number of people in Lyon it doesn't seem quite so bad. It is still crazy crowded though.

Hong Kong is open late. In Lyon most stores close at 8. Bars and restaurants stay open later, and shops in the tourist area, but most things close early. In Hong Kong everything is open late, and many things are open 24 hours. I don't really need 24 hour shops anymore, but if the Carrefour or Casino by my house could stay open until 10 I would be ecstatic.

People in Hong Kong work a lot. The economic crisis has hit Hong Kong pretty hard too, and many people have been laid off and the ones that managed to keep their jobs are working extra to make up for it. Many of my relatives were working late nights and Saturdays, and most were not getting paid extra for it. "Just be happy you have a job" seems to be motivation enough, because unlike France Hong Kong has no unemployment benefits and no universal health care, so you are pretty much on your own when bad economic times make life a little tough.

All in all in was a great trip. It was really interesting to get a different prespective now that I am living in France.


Darci said...

I miss you guys! Wish I could experience it!

BTW, we got you a book for your coffee table... I think it would be better if we delivered in person. :)

Hoping to see you soon,

ErikC said...

Its a shame I wasn't in town when you came to visit, would have been cool to bring you out to where I normally hang out.

Totally agree with you that different perspectives can make the same places fresh again

Air Jordans said...

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