Category Archives: Hong Kong

Misunderstood Hong Kong

aDuring the last weekend, I stayed in Hong Kong for few days. I found I had some serious misunderstanding of the city.

Hong Kong has 40%+ land reserved. I started to be interested in the Hong Kong Island Trail, a path winding 50 km in the mountains from the peak. A another good reason besides attending meetings, and shopping in Hong Kong is, mountain hiking. It sounds crazy, but it is rare to find that good path.

For the first time, we stayed outside the Central area. We stayed in the Causeway Bay. The people there, and the buildings there are so unique, and I completely enjoyed the great amount of people put into the small area. The pedestrian flow at green light crossing the Hennessey Road was amazing (the reason I watched the movie Crossing Hennessey again).

I completely enjoyed the food there, especially the sweetie. It is rare that I would be attracted by a city because of food. Even Chengdu didn’t attract me at all, but the Soup and the Sweet in Hong Kong just keep pulling me southward. Wendy and I had many soup and sweet those days.

Hong Kong is much more than what it showed to me in the last few trip.

P.S. Disney land? What a joke. No one – including Yifan – enjoyed it. It is the worst deal we had in many years. We thought about leaving the place one hours after we got there.

Poster about Financial Crisis in HK

Saw the following two interesting poster at Peking Road of Hong Kong:

Bascially they are the same, one in Chinese, and the other in plain English. It is maybe the only sign of financial crisis I saw in Hong Kong during my two day stay. Is there any other changes? I just don’t have a benchmark of what the city should look like in normal days so I cannot tell.

Photos of Hong Kong in December 2008

The IFC (Hong Kong International Finance Center). Obviously it does not change over years, but every year, and the persons who take the photo should be the same as the previous trip, but every time, the feeling is still slightly different.

Hong Kong’s ferry has a very lovely name: Star Ferry, or 天星小轮. It by itself is a highlight of my Hong Kong trip.

At night, the lights of buildings always shines under the clear sky:

The street scene of Hong Kong is pretty much similiar to Shanghai, reminding us of the deep connection between the two cities around 1940s.

Hong Kong Not More Expensive Than Shanghai

Another finding of this trip to Hong Kong is, Hong Kong is not too much more expensive than Shanghai today.

I had the impression that Hong Kong is super expensive, compared to Shanghai. Many years ago, I cannot understand why a bowl of noodle costs 40-50 RMB, and a direct ride on Metro cross the Victoria Bay costs around 9 RMB. At that time, same distance of Metro in Shanghai only cost 2 RMB.

During this trip, I have new ideas.

The first factor is the exchange rate. Now, 1 Chinese yuan = 1.12664683 Hong Kong dollars. Before, Hong Kong Dollar worth more than Chinese RMB. Something like 1.1 RMB to 1 HKD. Today, it is completely the opposite. I withdraw cash on local ATM machines – 200 HKD, and I got SMS notification that 177 was deducted from my China Merchant Bank card. I am feeling good about it.

Taxi is not that expensive also. A short trip from Hong Kong Station of Airport Express to Island Pacific Hotel cost 30-40 HKD. It is by no way cheap, but considering a typical Shanghai taxi drive also cost 20-30 RMB, I feel it is in the same range.

Noodle still cost around 40 HKD, but comparing to 30-35 RMB noodle shops in Shanghai, that is also pretty close.

My conclusion: it is not because Hong Kong becomes cheaper, it is because Shanghai gets much more expensive, so I don’t feel the gap any more.

Island Pacific Hotel is Pretty Nice

I stayed in Hong Kong Island Pacific Hotel during my stay. It is pretty nice hotel, and not super expensive – around 600-700 HKD. The only problem is, it is still far from the Sheung Wan Metro Station, and it don’t have free Internet access. An option for my next Hong Kong trip, besides the Youth Hotel we stayed during our first visit.

BTW, both JW Marriott Hong Kong, and Shangri-la Hotel Shanghai offer free Wifi service in their lobbies and meeting rooms. It is very nice. Just FYI, in case you are really in need of a WIFI service in Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Impression of Hong Kong

When I am going to conclude my forth trip to Hong Kong, let me describe what Hong Kong is in my eyes.

Transportation System

Hong Kong is the super crowded city, but the transportation is so efficient that both taxi and bus run pretty fast. The road system in Hong Kong is well planned, so there are cars running on all the smaller roads, unlike Beijing (with only big bold backbone roads like the rings but not too much working connecting road). Shanghai is a little bit better, but still far behind Hong Kong.

Prosperity

Although standing like a harbor in the sea of financial crisis (many times), you still can feel the prosperity of the city. The pace of the city is so quick – a detail I noticed since my first visit – the staircase elevator is faster in speed than Shanghai and Beijing. Standing at the over-street pedistrain bridge at Central, you just feel the flow or the river of people passing around. It is not like Nanjing Road in Shanghai, where the street is packed with shoppers, and tourists, the Central is packed with office gentlemen and ladies.

International

As the tag line of the Hong Kong Tourism Bureau designed for the city: Asia’s World City. Although people may argue whether it is Hong Kong or Singapore (but definitely not Kuala Lumpur or Shanghai yet), Hong Kong is really international. You can use Chinese (Mandarin) and English alternatively in most places, and people are speaking different languages other than English, Cantonese and Mandarin. It is very international.

Hong Kong? I Love It

If I have to decide the second city I may live in, I have the following candidate so far:

1. Bay Area in US

2. Beijing

3. Hong Kong

I don’t have a particular order for the cities yet. It seems Beijing may be in the no. three position in my mind so far, but still before most other cities.

On my Way to Hong Kong

I am sitting on the floor of Pudong Airport Terminal 2. My flight KA897 is going to depart at 17:20 to Hong Kong.

This is my forth time to Hong Kong.

First time, Wendy and I traveled there – I fly from Beijing to Shenzhen (cheaper), and she flys there from Shanghai. That was the longest trip, and my best trip there. My trip record: Hong Kong – the Amazing City

The second time, I went there for PR train. (PR = Public Relationship). That is single day trip – go there early in the morning and returned Shanghai on the same day. During that trip, I learnt Cantonese for street name: 百花街 (pronounced as Bai Fa Gai)… I don’t have any photos for this trip, and I didn’t write about it.

The third time was the fireware dinner for Randy. Stayed in JW Marriott Hong Kong. Report from Hong Kong in Jan

This is the forth time, attending the Red Herring Conference.

My Experience with Hong Kong

How many times I have been to Hong Kong?

The first time, I get here with Wendy, and Eric, and stayed at Minji’s place (the Sea Ranch on an island).

The second time was a pretty short one, on March 10, 2005. I couldn’t find an entry about the trip in my blog. Anyway, it was a really short one. I fly in in the morning, get to Upstream Asia’s office at noon, started the conversation in the afternoon, and get back at 6:00 PM. One day trip to Hong Kong. It was during that trip I learnt Cantonese: 百花街 (Crookedest Street). In Mandarin, it is Bai Hua Jie, but in Cantonese, it is pronounced as Bai Fa Gai…

The third time was today in 2006. I started in Shangri-la in Pacific Center – nice real estate project

This is maybe the forth time, and I stayed in the same area, just opposite to the Shangri-La hotel – JW Marriott. It is a very nice hotel, especially to have a harbor view. I was not able to take pictures at night when all the lights went off, but I will definitely take some shots tomorrow.

Hong Kong

I have never see a place where high-raise buildings are so close and concentrated like Hong Kong. Even New York don’t give people the energy like Hong Kong.

Taxis in Hong Kong is more aggressive in starting and stopping, but due to relatively better traffic rules (I mean relatively), it is running pretty smooth.

Miracle

Hong Kong is a miracle. Miracle, Energetic are the keywords I describe Hong Kong. I like here.

Visa? I hate Visa

What makes me feel bad is, I still need something like Visa to visit Hong Kong. Visa application time is so long – 7 days – which is even longer than U.S. visa, and India… Also, most people don’t need a visa to Hong Kong, but I do. :-(

Habibi

We had Egypt food in Habibi (Sounds like Kijiji). The food and music attracted me to pay a visit to Egypt.

P.S. Tired today. Let me go to bed now, and maybe watch the harbor view tomorrow morning, taking some pictures, and post it on this blog tomorrow.

P.S.2 Wendy went to see Swan Lake today.

Hongkong Restaurants Close in New Year

At LAN KWAI FANG, I found a good restaurant, called YUNG KEE (镛记) Restaurant. It is at 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +85225221624. (D2 Exit at Central Station of MTR). It is amount the best of these days’ meals. There is a big KFC near it – the fact is, the KFC seems to be the most obvious sign there.

It closes from Jan 28 to Feb 1 during the Chinese Spring Festival to celebrate the holiday.

This is to respect the holiday and tradition better than money, and I think it is the right way to do. In Shanghai, and many other cities in China, businesses do not close at holidays, and event at the Lunar New Year’s Eve.

It is very convinient, but there are no break in the entire year. I appreciate the decision the restaurant made to reserve the tradition. It is a big restaurant at the heart of the Hong Kong entertainment area – the LAN KWAI FANG, but still took the four day leave, for their staff and for everyone.

Second Day in Hong Kong in Jan

It was full day intensive meeting. Tired, and don’t want to type too much. It was exciting to talk with people with intensive experience in Asia. That was so good.

1. Hong Kong is a decent city, from the garden design to the dress of waiters in restaurant.

2. Sun came out today after 8 days (I heard) of cloudy and rainy weather. Hong Kong is such a charming city when it has blue sky and blue water (the reflection). When it is raining, it remians me of Shanghai in winter. Zhang Zhang said this winter, Shanghai is completely another London already.

3. All most all the people I spoke to can speak mandarin. It was not so common even years before. It may be because I am in the business district, or the usage of mandarin is more adopted.

4. Pacific Center is such a large building. According to Skylines Hong Kong by Peter Moss, it is “the largest, versatile and best integrated enclave in the city centre”.

5. My first trip to Hong Kong stayed in Sea Ranch (thanks to Minji’s hosting). The last time to visit is one day round trip from Shanghai.

More Hong Kong articles can be found in my Hong Kong page.

Report from Hong Kong in Jan

This is the third time I am in Hong Kong. It is cloudy. The city does not look as charming as it was. After dinner, I walked back to hotel and took the following pictures as my memory of the short trip in Jan, 2006.

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On the left is the Bank of China building, the master piece of I.M. Pei

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View from hotel

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Colorful lights

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Lights II

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Lippo Tower and the recent building on the right

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Stone lasts longer than human. The stone was put as the foundation stone in 1903

P.S. To answer Reno’s question, the picture 3 and 4 are slow shuttle and move the camera while taking the picture. It took about one second for exposure, and the colorful lights leave their tails as recorded in the picture.

The Sea Ranch , Hong Kong

I would have never been to the private resort on the Lantau island named Sea Ranch if Minji (Eric‘s girl friend) hadn’t lived there.

Private resort at Lantau island of Hong Kong, where Wendy and I were hosted

I understand why Dan Washburn found a contact at each location before he started his journey to go around China. A contact there is so difference that you (have to) visit somewhere you would never visit as a normal visitor.

Ferry leaving Sea Ranch to Cheung Chau

It is 45 minutes ferry’s ride away from Central. Minji take the ferry to work and take ferry back. It is so interesting (for the first time visitor), yet boring (if you have to take it everyday) trip. The place is marked as Tai Long Wan even on the most detailed map. According to Min, there are only 50 residents on the island. Although it is on Lantau, the largest island in Hong Kong, there is almost no path to other parts of the island, so, it is a seperated world connected to the outside with ferry service.

Facing south, the strait is on the route from Hong Kong to Macau.

At night, sitting at the gate of the resort and the whole beach and sea is just above you. It rained heavily when we were there. The sound of the sea wake us up every morning. It is just like our Sanya trip at the beach of Holiday Inn. The difference is, it is the daily life of the people on the island – it is really a resort far away from the most crowded city.

The nearest place for residents to buy food and other goods are the island of Chueng Chau – I have marked the island on my map.

Look at this picture. I like it very much.

Small restaurant on the street of Cheung Chau. © Jian Shuo Wang

Hong Kong MTR

I was very impressed by the Hong Kong MTR. I have just uploaded some pictures of the MTR onto the photo section of this site:

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The Hong Kong MTR ticket is very similar with the ticket in Shanghai. The difference is, it is much more expensive (9 HKD to go across the Victoria Strait v.s 2 RMB to cross Hong Pu River in Shanghai).

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The Hong Kong Metro is colorful.

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Hong Kong is famous as a crowded city, but the metro was built with large scale. There are very big halls undergrand, many wide tunnels and enough elevators. I didn’t experienced jam (short delay due to too many people) there.

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I like the transition of the Metro most. From KCR to Central, I can always get to another line on the opposite side of the same platform as I get off. It is like Singapore. Shanghai and Beijing are different stories.

P.S. I am on business trip these days. I travel to a city, sometimes a county, sit down and have meeting with local customer, get on to a van, travel, and then sit down with another group of customers. I visit two places every day and sleep in a different city every day until this Friday.

How to Go to Hong Kong via Shen Zhen

If you want to enjoy easy and relaxed trip, and you are not interested to save money at cost of time, just directly fly to Hong Kong from anywhere in the world. However, if you want to get there with a budget trip from mainland China, to visit Hong Kong via Shen Zhen is a cheaper choice. You can experience the KCR (Kowloon Canton Rail) and Hong Kong MTR (Massive Transit Rail).

I went to Hong Kong via Shenzhen. The ticket to Shenzhen I bought one day before the departure was 790 RMB (55% off). If I directly fly to Hong Kong, it is more than 1400 RMB for single trip. (Wendy bought the promotional package from Shanghai to Hong Kong and it is 1660 RMB for round trip). From Shenzhen back to Shanghai took me 700 RMB only.

Here is a route map I created based on my memory. I didn’t refer to a map when I created it so its anything but an accurate map.

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It is said the Shenzhen airport is 40 km away from the Luohu Custom Port. I took airport bus there and it took 20 RMB and about one hour (maybe 40 minutes, I do not remember). After I left the bus, as I expected, I was very confused since there is no single sign pointing to the destination many people are interested – the Luohu Custom Port, the gateway to Hong Kong. I asked four persons to find out my way to go to Luo Hu Custom Port. Two pointed to the right direction, one gave me the wrong way on which I met the forth person who were looking for Luohu too. She confirmed at least the way she came from is the wrong way so I turned and continued seeking. Later, when I approached the entry to the custom building, I finally saw the first sign pointing to Hong Kong – the typical Hong Kong style black bordered sign.

If you follow the same route, follow the following suggestions:

1. After you get off board the bus, turn left and go directly along the street for 200 meter.

2. Get to the over-head pedestrian bridge and go upstairs.

3. Go to the end of the road and turn right. (Never turn right along the road until you reached the end off the road)

Passing the Custom

Passing the customer is easy. Now, mainland residents still need a special Hong Kong/Macau Entry Visa to cross the border. There are not many people if it is not weekend. It took about 20 minutes to me, but others suggest to plan one and a half hour for it.

After getting into Hong Kong, I don’t need to talk about the route since everything became very easy and there are volunteers to help. Get onboard the KCR train (almost the same train like MTR), and transfer at Kowloon Tong (the only station) to MTR. After you reach MTR (or subway, or Metro), you can reach almost every corner of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

See some pictures of Hong Kong MTR at my Hong Kong MTR Photo Gallary.

Hong Kong – the Amazing City

I am back from Hong Kong with the late flight at 9:45 pm via Shenzhen. The Monday that just past was a busy day for me, after my absence in office for five weeks. Everyone including the Ayi, seems to have something to say to me. Now, I have left Shanghai and now I am sitting at the desk of Shangri-La Hangzhou. I will start my journey in Zhejiang from tomorrow.

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Jian Shuo before Standard View of Hong Kong Island. Photographed by Wendy.

Well. Considering it is already early in the morning, I won’t talk too much about the Hong Kong trip this time, although I have so much to talk about it. Hong Kong is an exciting and attractive city. This first time visit helped me to learn that there is still a very long way for Shanghai to catch up with the standard Hong Kong built and maintained, as a friendly metropolitan, as a business central and as a tourist city.

Here is what is the key learning this time. I will find more time (maybe this weekend) to explain the trip in more details.

  1. Hong Kong is a city with great usability (as Eric said). Look at the Hong Kong metro – so effective and so clear.
  2. Hong Kong is a communication intensive city – there are 5 times more signs, signal lights, yellow lines (on the road), posters and other ways of communities than in Shanghai
  3. I like boats there – the star ferry is fantastic. I also took private boats and fasterTurboJet.
  4. I love the islands around Hong Kong – we visited Cheung Chau, and Lantau (the Sea Ranch). – Thanks for Minji to host us on her small island.
  5. Hong Kong is an ideal place for hiking – surprise? I claimed up to the maintain along Mt. Davis Path to the Jockey Club Mt. Davis International Youth Hostel. It took me 35 minute but the view was breath-taking

I took about 600 pictures there and it takes sometime to upload it to this website. I will be back.

Acknowledgement

Wendy and Jian Shuo would like to thank Minji and the German girl (we didn’t know her name yet) for hosted us on their 50-residents island, and Eric for professional tour guiding.

Smart Card ID Card in Hong Kong

Phil shared the new Smart Card version of his Hong Kong Permenant Identification Card on hisFlying Chair website. It looks very cool. “I actually like the fact that I can put my driving license information on it and carry less cards. If you put it in a reader you can see all the information stored in the chip….”, Phil mentioned. It is a cool feature. Now, I have at least three government issued cards I need to carry with me every day – the National ID (who knows when I need it), the Driver’s license (if I will drive) and the Social Insurance Card to see a doctor (good thing is, the expense will be covered by my insurance). It will be a good news if these cards can get together.

The Social Insurance Card I have already have some kind of IC card feature – I can go with the card and every hospital will recognize my name and dedute money from the card.

101 Building in Taibei

Thanks to Taipei101 MBlog website. There are plenty of pictures of the newly built 101 building in Taipei (via CNBlog)

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Credit: Taipei 101 Mblog

It has 101 floors and took 5 years to complete. It is 88 meters higher (509m) than the Jinmao Tower (421m) in Shanghai and now ranks the tallest building in the world. This building looks similiar with Jinmao Tower from outside.

Weather

Shanghai is getting much cold now. I cannot do without a warm coat. Winter has arrived. I still remember my first winter in Shanghai. There was no A/C or any heating device in my dorm and people screamed when getting into the cold wet quilt. :-(

This is the scene from weatherpixie.com, describing today’s weather:

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