Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hong Kong Visa Run: Part 1

Well, we're back from Hong Kong... and boy are we glad to be home!

Hong kong is quite the country, it is one of the
most densely populated places in the world, with an overall density of about 6,303 people per square kilometer... now that number may be difficult for you to grasp, but let me tell you, that is a whole lot of people.

Literally everywhere you are, you can look up and see this-->
I wasn't able to take any pictures with my camera that capture the insanity of their skyline, but you can see it in the Hong Kong wikipedia entry here.

We got to Hong Kong on Thursday night and were excited to be in a place where people speak English. That night we went to see the Hong Kong city light show. This is the largest permanent light show in the world that is put on every night at 8pm along the Hong Kong skyline. Below are some videos I took during the show, it was pretty cool.


video


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After that, the trip went down hill! Friday morning we headed out to the Taiwan Consulate to get a 2 month visitor visa. The visa that we entered Taiwan on was a non-extendable 30-day visa that expired on Monday. So we had to get another visitor visa to cover us until our work visa is processed.

The first snag in the day happened on our way to the visa office: Nick's ATM card was eaten from an ATM machine! So I took out the most my bank allows me to take out in one day and we went on our way. When we got to the visa office, however, we realized that we didn't have enough money to pay for our visas, so I had to go all the way across the city to get our Travelers checks so that we could pay for these things. The whole ordeal took about 3 hours!


After that we wanted to grab some lunch, Hong Kong is supposed to be the culinary capital of Asia... unfortunately I have to admit we weren't able to find any exceptional food while we were there. Friday afternoon was no exception.


I think we were in the financial district or something because it seemed we were completely trapped inside a maze of buildings and there wasn't a side walk or a way out in sight. It was unreal. I had a mini-breakdown because there were so many people everywhere and I couldn't handle it, I kind of freaked out... I was just overwhelmed by the whole thing. It was quite the ordeal.


Our first impression of Hong Kong (and lasting) was not very good. I'm sure that there are some very beautiful places in Hong Kong and it certainly has its positives, but the sheer amount of people makes it a very unappealing place for us.


Here is a short list of the pro's and con's of Taiwan as we see it:

Pros:

  • light show
  • Victoria Harbor Skyline
  • Ferries
  • Very diverse population
  • Great public transportation
  • pretty cool temples built in the 1700's
  • Kowloon Park
  • Shopping.... LOTS and LOTS of shopping!

Cons:

  • Rude (cold) people... I guess you get this in any big city
  • Billions of people
  • Buildings that you can't get out of
  • Dirty bathrooms (this I found amazing... the city in general was very clean, but the public bathrooms were just atrocious... horrible!
  • There are run down high rises EVERYWHERE!
  • It is very difficult to walk around the city
  • Relative to Taiwan, its very expensive
  • Hawkers: there are hawkers everywhere. If I got $1 every time someone asked me to buy a tailored suit or foot massage, I'd be rich right now... its very annoying

Here are some more pictures from Hong Kong:

  • This is a picture of the bathroom in our hostel (we got a private room, so it was basically a cheap hotel). Right behind Nick is the shower, so you take a shower in the same place that you go to the bathroom. Nick literally used the toilet while he was taking a shower, just because he could!
  • oooooooooooo the humanity!

  • This is called the "travelator" its basically a people mover that they use to transport people from a lower area of the city to an upper-section of the city. Its pretty long and I'm guess it can save you over an hour of walking. Next time you're going to get on the people-mover at the airport you can say "I think I'll take the travelator now," haha!


The second day we were in Hong Kong was much better than the first... but I'll save that for part 2!

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