Hong Kong Highlights

21-11-2014 — 22-11-2014.

Days 93 & 94.

In Search Of: Studio Ghibli Tickets

One of the things we planned to do in Japan (our next country) was visit the Ghibli Museum. Getting tickets to get into the museum is a little tricky, mainly because you can't them at the door; you have to get them in advance. And that means picking a date and time you want to visit and hoping the limited slots available on the days you want aren't sold out.

Because of this, we wanted to get the tickets as soon as possible. As it turns out, one of the places you could get these tickets was the JAL Satellite Travel Company in Hong Kong, which was back in Tsim Sha Tsui (where we'd been hanging out last night). So we got back on the subway and zoomed on up to Tsim Sha Tsui again and found Miramar Tower, which held a mall on the first six or so floors, then offices up from there. We were bound for the 19th floor, and after a little elevator experimentation, we managed to find the place.

We walked in the door, asked to buy the tickets, and were told that they only sold them to Hong Kong citizens. This small fact that didn't seem to make it to the informational website. We had to leave empty-handed, a little annoyed—not only because we couldn't buy the tickets, but we'd wasted a good couple of hours in the process.

And then we were doubly (or is that triply?) annoyed when we couldn't find a way out of the mall. We'd follow a sign to an escalator, only to learn that escalator was temporarily non-operational and blocked off (this is a town that loves it some escalators). We eventually escaped Miramar Tower, but our energy was spent after the ordeal. So we stopped at some now forgotten restaurant and paid too much for a mediocre lunch before heading back to the hotel.

A Run in Hong Kong

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I went for a run at the Causeway Bay Sports Complex, which had a nice 400-plus meter track.  The air is a little thick in Hong Kong, and by the time I ran around that 12 times, I could really feel it in my lungs, so I decided to stop.

It wasn't until I'd finished that I saw a sign that gave me the impression I had to pay to use the track. There had been a security guard patrolling there the whole time who never looked at me twice, though.

I keep trying to find the time to write up these few runs I've been doing, but until then, here's the Hong Kong run on RunKeeper.

Non-Occupied Central

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Sam's friend Wendy met us for dinner again—this time we'd decided on a steak restaurant. On the way there, we walked by one of the many Occupy Central sites. There were a lot of tents and signs, but no people. No one was out protesting—no one, that is, except an angry Totoro.

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Hong Kong At Night

After dinner we walked back toward the hotel, taking in the sights of night time Hong Kong. It's a really vibrant town that never seems to slow down. There are always people everywhere.

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And because there are always people around, there's always business to be done. For instance, if you needed a place to buy some pharmaceuticals late at night, I think there might be a place to do that.

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And apparently night time is the right time for collecting a big truck full of flattened cardboard.

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Speed Skating in Victoria Park

Speed skaters in Victoria Park.

Speed skaters in Victoria Park.

On our way home, we walked back through Victoria Park, a large city park that was near the hotel. It has a jogging trail that I probably should have used instead of the one at the Sports Complex. Like the rest of Hong Kong, the park was bustling, even at 9:00 p.m. There were active basketball games, soccer games, and even a high-speed rollerblading match. They went by really fast.

Revisiting the Hospital

The next morning Samantha's condition had not improved, so we decided to go back to the hospital and try again. She got the same diagnosis but new medicine, including some that promised to make her drowsy. This was good, because she needed to sleep.

So me and the gals tucked her in to bed to her get some rest while we went out for a little lunch and a little exploring.

QQ Skewer shop and Bingco

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The girls and I left Samantha at the hotel to rest and headed out for some lunch. We decided to try QQ Skewer Shop (QQ便利店串燒), a tiny restaurant stall near the hotel. Every time we'd walked by this place over the past few days, it was always busy.

Skewer samples at QQ Skewer Shop.

Skewer samples at QQ Skewer Shop.

Because the place was always hopping, we thought it was probably pretty good, so it was worth a try. Jackie got corn on the cob on a stick, Frankie got a rice ball, and I picked up a skewer of sui mai with hot sauce. Tasty stuff all around at a reasonable price.

A few doors down from QQ there's another small stall with the name Bingco featuring a funny looking, smiling, avocado green mascot with a twisty hat.

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After a little investigation, we learned that Bingco is a (supposedly) Korean ice cream place that serves the craziest, double-ended, J-shaped pipes filled with ice cream. Of course we had to try it.

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The Peak

After lunch, we took a taxi to The Peak, a popular tourist, shopping, and sightseeing destination just below the summit of Victoria Peak that offers good views of Hong Kong below. Instead of a taxi, we could have taken The Peak Tram, a funicular railway, but it was a Saturday and the lines were reported to be quite long.

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From the peak, looking out over Victoria Bay and Hong Kong beyond, you could really see how poor the air quality was.

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On top of The Peak Galleria, there was a giant plastic bear that was being filled with colored balloons. Apparently it was the world's largest bear-shaped balloon structure and there's a world record attempt going on with this thing. You have to get pretty specific to get a world record these days.

After we looked around for a bit, and found that, aside from a few viewing platforms, there wasn't a lot to do up here other than a lot of shopping. We decided it was time to get home.

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We took the bus (Route 15 to Central) down from the peak. My friend Bret told me the way to do it was get on the top of a double-decker bus and sit in the front for the ride down—more fun than a rollercoaster. We didn't get a front-row seat (these are in high demand), but we still had a good time in the third row. There isn't a lot of room for two buses to pass side by side, and many times the overhanging tree branches would smack along the top of our bus.

Eventually we got to Central. We considered walking down to the harbor and taking a ferry ride back over to Tsim Sha Tsui, but it had gotten dark, we were getting hungry, and we wanted to check on Samantha. So we jumped on the subway back to Tin Hau station.

We had mediocre Indian food for dinner, but some great coffee and dessert at Sillyboo before we headed back to the hotel to turn in. It had been an exhausting day, and we were leaving Hong Kong in the morning.

Notable Statistics

  • iPadographers; 3
  • Taxis ridden: 1
  • Hospitals visited: 1
  • Protesters seen: 0
  • Buses ridden: 1
  • Subway trips: 3

is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

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Hong Kong Highlights
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