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Trip to Hong Kong, Day 1

  • 27th Dec, 2004 at 8:03 PM

The day started off with a nice breakfast. Uncle Luk went downstairs to buy some buns and milk, while we got ready. It seems that hot water is heated in a most peculiar way here. Instead of having a large tank of hot water ready, people install small gas water heaters along their pipelines. When you turn on the hot water tap, the heater flares into action, and heats the water on demand. So you can never run out of hot water, unless you stop paying your natural gas bills.

After breakfast, we went to see the mountain peak. We went through the subway, and then took a tram to the top. The mass transit system in Hong Kong is completely privatised, with multiple bus companies running separate lines. They are, however, tied together with a prepaid debit card system called the "Octopus". The mountain was filled with tourists who walked along a public trail. The mountain side is partially covered with concrete, to prevent erosion. Looking down upon the city and harbour, the most we could see were the taller buildings, everything else was obscured by a thick layer of smog. There are trees growing all along, but every so often, you see a clump of them that are dying of pollution.

Eventually, we became tired of wandering along the trail and decided to backtrack. We took the bus back to Uncle Luk's, dropped off our stuff, and headed to my paternal grandparents' flat. There, I helped grandfather with some last-minute cooking. He taught me some nice wok technique that I'll look forward to trying at home.

I can't stop noticing little inane details about how Hong Kong differs from Canada. The big things are really quite the same. Televisions still show boring, annoying drivel. People still get pushed in front of subway trains. But things like milk here are just different. They cannot get their milk from Holsteins. There are too many solids in their milk, which needs to be shaken or you'll leave some at the bottom. Plus, the milk comes in little 185ml bottles with foil caps, as opposed to 4l sacks. Not only does the milk taste more intense, but so do the fruits and vegetables. For instance, at dinner I ate some Thompson grapes. Now in Canada, we get perfect little Thompson grapes that have no blemishes. The grapes here, however, were all wrinkled and oddly shaped, but they had a very intense grape flavour. And the vegetables are the same: they're smaller and have more blemishes, but there's a more subtle flavour to them. However, there are other things that have less flavour. Take bread for instance. In Canada, I can go to nice little Belgian bakeries and get a really tasty baguette. Here, the best one can do is squishy white bread, that doesn't even taste of yeast or wheat. And people apparently like it this way!