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Hong Kong August 18, 2009

Posted by jorkat in Hong Kong.

I love to make lists.

I have lists of everything. I have lists of the books I want to read. I have lists of the places I want to go. I even have a list of all of my lists.

Therefore, I’ve decided to present my most recent list of the Top 5 things we’ll remember most about our recent trip to Hong Kong.

Before I get started though, I want to take  a moment to acknowledge our rather interesting trip to the airport. One of our friends had told us about a shuttle bus that left from a stop not too far from our place. It only cost 9,000 KRW’s (less than $9 CAD) and would take us directly to the terminal. As a precaution, I scouted the bus stop’s exact location the night before to ensure that I knew exactly where we were going. The sign was clearly marked Airport Shuttle in English, but the rest of the sign was in Korean. Seemed good enough to me so I headed home to finish packing for our 8-day excursion (4 days in HK and 4 days in Beijing). Our flight left at 8:30am and it was about a one hour drive to the airport so our day would be starting around 5am.

We arrived at the bus stop right on schedule with our massive backpacks on and waited patiently for the 5:52am bus to arrive. Despite being very early in the morning, there was a fair amount of people already out and about. Some of them on their way to work, some of them on their way home from the bar.

A few minutes after our arrival an older Korean woman who worked at a restaurant in front of the bus stop approached us and started explaining (in Korean) that this wasn’t the right stop. Fortunately, some younger guys who spoke a little English intervened and were able to translate. One of them who was clearly intoxicated indicated that the shuttle bus stop had been moved a few blocks away and was nice enough to escort us to the exact location. Korean hospitality at its finest. I maintain that if this country had a last call in bars, that this encounter would never have happened as he would have been home in bed, and we may have missed our flight. Score one for the friendly alcoholics.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time and enjoyed a smooth day of travel into Communist China. Without further ado, here are our Top 5 favourite things from our trip to Hong Kong. In no particular order…

1. Sky Terrace


When you ask any local what you should do when visiting Hong Kong, this place is invariably the answer given by most.

If you’re fortunate enough to visit on clear, smogless day, it’s easy to understand why. It was incredibly humid out but the view was breathtaking and made the heat a bit more tolerable.

To access the Sky Terrace, you have to take something called the Peak Tram. It’s basically a railcar that’s been in operation since 1888. Despite numerous renovations, it still sounds like it’s from 1888 and can be a little nerve-wracking when you’re pitched on a 60 degree angle knowing that you’re a broken cable away from plunging to a certain death. Totally worth it though.

Here’s some video from the Sky Terrace…

2. Spicy Tuna from Tokio Joe’s with Old Friends.

Katie and I were both excited to try some some authentic Chinese cuisine. So where did we go for our first dinner out in Hong Kong?…We went for sushi.

This wasn’t actually our decision but we couldn’t have been happier with the result. Katie and I were very fortunate to both have old friends from high school currently living in Hong Kong, and both spoke highly of this restaurant. I must admit that it was pretty cool sitting down for a nice meal in a cool restaurant on the other side of the world with Rob and Colin. Aside from being informed of Big Papi’s positive steroid test, it was a fabulous meal. Colin was in charge of ordering everything and he didn’t disappoint, the spicy tuna was as good as I’ve ever had. And the company was even better. It was nice to sit with an old friend and argue about which Phillies’ outfielder was accused of juicing earlier this year, and once again be proven wrong.

Rob & Jordan

Rob & Jordan

Katie & Colin

Katie & Colin

Thank you both for a memorable stay in Hong Kong.

3. We have two subcategories for this one as Katie and I had slightly different preferences. See if you can guess who chose what?…

a) Epic Ping Pong matches with Rob.

Rob is a very busy guy who travels a lot for work and doesn’t get to spend much time relaxing at home. So I’ll never forget when I asked him about the pool on the second floor and he immediately remembered that there was a Ping Pong table in the games room that he had never used. It was the most excited I had seen him in years and I quickly adopted his enthusiasm. We made it to the games room in less than 11 seconds. I think Katie went swimming, but I was too focused on Ping Pong to notice for sure.


I had a table at home in High School and me and a couple roommates had one in one in University that took up 50% of our living room and doubled as our kitchen table. I haven’t played much over the years, but the rust quickly wore off for both of us and we were right back at a pretty high level after only a few games. It was also one of the nicest tables I’ve ever played on with barriers surrounding it to prevent the ball from bouncing all over the room after I won the point. I can’t remember exactly who won or lost, but I do remember beating him pretty badly and I know the exact score if anyone cares to discuss it, that’s not what matters though.

b) Shopping at Stanley Market

We spent one afternoon at this cool little market that sold all kinds of crap. It was called Stanley Market and it’s been around forever. I bought a fridge magnet with my name in Chinese on it. You can read more about it here.

4. Filipino Sundays

Hong Kong is a very affluent city. It’s consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world and thus, has a considerable upper class who can afford and enjoy this lifestyle. It’s also quite common for those who have the means, to hire housekeepers, maids, helpers, etc. who usually live with the families they work for. Many of the condos built for this demographic are even designed with a room for the maid in mind.

The other common thread that most, if not all of this hired help share is that they are usually of Filipino decent and they have their only day off on Sunday. We had been warned in advance by Rob to be prepared as we ventured into town on Sunday, but it was still staggering nonetheless. Hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of Filipino women were huddled together on the streets, in parks, basically anywhere they could find shade where they wouldn’t have to spend money. These pictures don’t do it justice, it’s really something you have to experience in person to appreciate the scope of how many there are. And then you start to think about how each one of them is employed by someone with considerable wealth and you really start to understand why Hong Kong is so expensive.


5) The Heat

Easily the hottest and most humid weather conditions either of us have ever experienced. We had to shower and change twice a day without exception. We also had to take shelter in H&M while wandering downtown one afternoon just to take cover from the sweltering heat and enjoy some A/C. I’ll never forget the gusts of A/C coming from the shops as we walked by and how refreshing they were. True story – on more than once occasion I had to use the washroom as we were drinking a lot of water to try and stay hydrated. We couldn’t find a washroom in the immediate vicinity and continued exploring hoping to run into one. Within a few minutes when we had finally found one, my urge to relief myself had dissipated. Now I’m no Doctor, or Scientist, or whoever would study something like this, but I’m pretty sure that my urine evaporated.


Now I don’t sweat nearly as bad as some people I know (my wife) so I can only imagine what their shirt would look like (it’s gross) after a day in the Hong Kong humidity. It’s also impossible to tell from this picture how much of that moisture is actually sweat and how much is the aforementioned urine that evaporated from my body. I will acknowledge that holding your pee isn’t the best idea and that I’ll probably develop prostate cancer by the age of 50, but it was nice not having to go the bathroom every half hour and letting our depleted ozone layer do all the work.

IMG_6040This is the view from Rob and Dana’s terrace which didn’t quite crack the Top 5, but deserves honourable mention along with Rob’s hospitality. The lone blemish on our trip was the fact that his wife Dana and daughter Alice were back in Montreal visiting family. Hong Kong is a very cool city (figuratively speaking) but this trip was more about reconnecting with old friends, and we couldn’t have been happier with the result.

We awoke Monday morning and headed to the airport for the next leg of our journey. Fortunately, this time we didn’t require the escort of an intoxicated Asian. Off to Beijing…


1. Jordan - August 18, 2009

Go here to see the Crotch Fireworks Video…


Viewer discretion is advised.

2. Sean - August 18, 2009

Well done Jordan, yet another enlightening post. I look forward to Beijing.

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