Category: All Things

World Cup in Hong Kong

Friday, June 16th, 2006 | All Things, Travel

The scene in front of Causeway Bay’s Times Square Jumbotron at 11:00PM:

World Cup (1)

World Cup (2)

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Hong Kong civics lesson

Thursday, June 15th, 2006 | All Things, Family, Travel

First full day in Hong Kong got off to an early start. After a traditional Hong Kong breakfast at the hotel of vegetable & pork vermicelli soup and glutinous rice dumpling, E. met us and the three of us took the hotel shuttle into Wan Chai. There began our six hour mini-tour of the Hong Kong government offices.

Although not the primary reason for the trip, one of the things Dad had hoped to accomplish this week was to register for a new Hong Kong identity card. First introduced in 1949, the cards were used to identify native Hong Kong residents from the influx of mainland Chinese into the relatively prosperous British colony. The credit-card sized ids, both then and now, grant a host of privileges not available to outsiders.

Hong Kong Identity Card

In the 1950’s, the cards were constructed of laminated cardboard; today they’re embedded with microchips that hold name, birthdate, gender, residential status, and the digital template of both thumbprints. We had booked an appointment online through the Registration of Persons Offices website, so once there, we were ushered in immediately to start the paperwork. To his credit, the clerk was seemingly unfazed by the “classic” nature of the card we brought in for replacement.

Two hours (and that only because their system suffered a temporary crash — unrelated to us, we’re pretty sure), a digital photo and two thumbprint scans later, we were set. Armed with Dad’s new interim Certificate of Identity, we proceed on to Phase II: the Immigration Department four floors below to apply for a Hong Kong passport. More photos, more paperwork, more photocopies, pay at the “Schroff”… Done. Because we produced a ticket showing an impending outbound flight, we were able to rush the new passport for Monday pick-up.

While most of this was going on, I was able to wander the Hong Kong Convention Center next door to snap a few photos of the very hazy Hong Kong Harbor.
Hong Kong Convention Center (3)
Hong Kong Convention Center (1)

Hong Kong Convention Center (2)

Yes, the day was just as steamy and dreary as it looks.

Phase III: To Shau Kei Wan for a visit to China Travel Service to apply for a Home Visit Permit. The travel documents, used in conjunction with the Hong Kong ID, allow the holder to travel into China without a visa and to speed through the notoriously long exit/entry waits at the Hong Kong border.

From the Shau Kei Wan area markets:

Hong Kong Fruits (1)

Lychee and durians


Three government ids in six hours. Not bad for a half day’s efforts.

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Arrival: Hong Kong

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006 | All Things, Travel

So 24 hours after leaving my parents’ house, I arrived in Hong Kong. Not much to be said about the flight, other than that it felt rather cramped and very, very long. On the SFO-HKG leg of the journey, the plane’s audio system went out, and the passengers were forced to sit through “Hoodwinked,” “Wimbledon,” “Tristan and Isolde,” and “King Kong” without the benefit of sound. Could have been worse: none of the films were particularly high on my must-see list, and King Kong (which I’d already seen during its theatrical run) suffered suprisingly little in dialogue-less form. The crew distributed adjustment forms to everyone in the cabin, so we could each receive restitution for the snafu. Will be interesting to see how the “inconvenience” of missing out on Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany gamely uttering such lines as “Love means nothing in tennis” will translate into goodwill mileage points.

E. and B. met us at the airport and accompanied us via the spotless and efficient airport shuttle into Central Hong Kong. From there, it was a quick ride in one of Hong Kong’s ubiquitous red taxicabs to the hotel… and it was there where I suffered the first casualty of the trip.

And boy, was it a doozy. After settling into the room, I went to grab my trusty camera, hoping to snap a few Hong Kong nightlife shots after dinner. And yet, it was nowhere to be found. Pocket? Nope. Tote bag? Nope. A casual search became increasingly frenzied and desperate, and after retracing all my steps I came to the heart-sinking realization that after I toting my camera halfway around the world, I’d left the darn thing in the taxi, five minutes away from the hotel. %$#@!.

In the interest of bright-side seeking, I will allow that if such a thing is to happen — such a stupid, thoughtless thing — it’s infinitely better to happen on the first night of a trip rather than the last. And truth be told, it wasn’t all that nice a camera (though I would have much preferred to part ways with it on my own terms.) Tomorrow morning, I set out to find myself suitable replacement.

So sadly, no pics tonight. The travelogue will now be missing my shots from the HK International Airport, including the temperature check station at Customs, but otherwise, not much else.

Here’s someone else’s photo of the Causeway Bay shopping district, where my hotel is located. Yes, I realize this is cheating.:

Causeway Bay 2

More tomorrow… with photos (I hope.)

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