Weekend Number Two…
The continuation of jet lag has kept me slightly off my game this week. I’ve had all the best intentions to put up blog posts through the week, but after coming back to the hotel from a day in the office, I wind up watching just enough TV to put me to sleep, which hasn’t taken more than 15 minutes each night. I continue to find myself waking up anywhere between 2:30 AM and 5:00 AM, but I’ve been forcing myself to stay in bed to acclimate to the time zones.
In all honesty, it’s probably good that I haven’t posted blogs all week since the greater portion of my week has been spent in meetings with various business and IT colleagues from the AP region. From a work point of view, this trip is definitely reaping rewards, and is proving to be well worth the effort and cost. I’ve gained some valuable insight into the challenges and frustrations that my colleagues here in Hong Kong deal with on a daily basis. From an entertainment point of view, blog postings would have turned out pretty unentertaining for the one or two of you taking the time to read this.
The major highlights of the past week at work though continue to focus around lunches. My IT colleagues have taken pleasure in making sure I get a well-rounded feel for the various cuisines that are available here in Hong Kong. Some business colleagues took me to a marvelous Thai Restaurant (Called, Simply Thai, in Sha Tin) on Friday, while my IT cohorts continued to bring me to local eating establishments with much more regular day to day type menus.
The Director if AP IT Operations, Patrick Chiu, hosted an IT Luncheon in my honor on Thursday afternoon in a very nice restaurant. It was another Dim Sum lunch experience, sans chicken feet, and it was marvelous. And then on Friday night, after work, Patrick was kind enough to drive me back out to Victoria Peak for dinner, which allowed me to experience the Hong Kong skyline at night. Patrick explained that the weather shift during this time of year brings winds into Hong Kong from mainland China, and consequently it causes the perpetual haze that lies over the Island.
Saturday – 15 January 2011
I grabbed my camera, my MTR train map, and I headed off to Lan Tao Island. The MTR takes you all the way there, and drops you about .5 block away from the Cable Car that transports you out to the Po Lin Monastery. It is at this monastery that they have built the world’s largest statue of the Buddha, called the Tian Tan (Giant) Buddha. MAP LOCATION HERE It’s impossible to explain the grandeur of it all. The cable car ride is an experience all in itself. Especially with the wind whipping as it was this past Saturday. IT wasn’t enough to close down the cable cars, but it was enough to get the cars to sway slightly. The cars hold up to ten people, and many of my fellow riders were a lot more squeamish than I over the heights as well as the swaying. While traveling out to the Monastery, we were quite surprised when we saw a maintenance guy riding back in the opposite direction. While I'm not afraid of heights, I don't think there's enough money in the world to get me to ride that cable system in an open basket like that.
Once I made it to Po Lin, I immediately felt things slow down ever so slightly. Hong Kong with its dense population seems to always be buzzing with activity, while here on the other side of the hill on Lan Tao, things were much quieter, calmer, and much less busy. You could say serene, although that would be a bit of a stretch for any place in the Hong Kong area.
As I wandered around the Po Lin Monastery area, taking in the sights and reading about the teachings of the Buddha I couldn’t help but think about my own spiritual journey through life so far. Born, bred, and raised in the Catholic Church and the Christian faith I was of course taught about the “one” way to salvation. As I’ve grown older, and have been exposed to different teachings, philosophies, and religions I’ve moved away from the “one” way, and have gained faith that there are many ways. During one of the presentations on the life of Buddha, I experienced a brief moment of calm, and clarity, and I feel as if I’ve been exposed to validation of my own personal spiritual beliefs. (Enough religion…)
I had to put this away for a while to finish packing and prepare for my train trip into mainland China, and the city of Guangzhou. I’m currently writing this during my trip there. I’m in a First Class train coach with maybe another 4 or 5 people. Two gentlemen from somewhere in Germany and the remainder being either people local from Hong Kong or from China. Being in First Class, I was presented with a small bottle of distilled water. Cha-Ching! I LOVE bottled water here. Only because I’ve experienced what most Americans experience when they travel abroad and take in the local flavor and delicacies. I won’t go into any gory details; suffice it to say that I’ve become quite “regular” during my trip to Asia.
Back to yesterday in Hong Kong. After finishing at the Po Lin Monastery, I made my way back via the cable car to the MTR station and navigated my way back to my hotel. A quick bio break, and a shedding of some of the tourist trappings I had (camera bag, maps, etc.), and I headed back out again for a trip to an area called the Temple Street Night Market. If you read my previous post where I discuss the Stanley Market, this is almost identical in offerings but it’s in the heart of what’s called the Jordan area, and it all happens at night. There’s lots of hawking going on, and as I walked through the market area, I quickly got the sense that there were some real serious negotiations going on. What’s interesting, and humorous all at the same time is that these people are bartering, and at times, rather loudly and with great vigor over something that is labeled at $20 HKD. They don’t want to pay more than $15. They wind up settling on $18 HKD. For my American readers, we’re talking about a product that was labeled at the equivalent of $2.57. They only wanted to pay $1.92, and they wind up paying $2.31. And they’re damn happy to have made the deal!
My dinner last night was once again in one of the very local establishments where I ordered my dinner from the picture on the menu. I wound up getting sizzling Prawns on a bed of fried noodles. That and a cup of hot Lemon, Tangerine, Honey Tea, and the cost of dinner was about $10.00 USD. They’ve got great seafood here in Hong Kong.
This coming week, I’m going to be Guangzhou China on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday evening, I’m flying to Shanghai, and then on Friday, I fly to Taipei Taiwan. To the best of my knowledge, my IT counterparts here in China have my days filled with various meetings with IT folks, business colleagues, and some local IT training vendors. I anticipate to be kept very busy.