Scenes from Hong Kong

(Click on any image for a larger version.)

Just back from my first visit to Hong Kong—long in the anticipation. Some random observations:

This shopping-mall display brought to mind this old National Lampoon cover from 1972:

I won't really go into it, but in 1972 this was a timely and clever joke. The big panda warrior had hundreds of little minions:

This business was a mystery at first sight. I haven't taken the time to really decipher the Web page, but my best guess is they purport to assess the talents of individuals (especially children of achievement-obsessed parents) by analyzing fingerprints.

At first glance I thought this was Spanish moss hanging from the tree, but it turns out this is a Chinese banyan tree (several of which line Nathan Road in Kowloon). The dangling things are root-like structures which I guess are the tree's attempts to spread itself horizontally. But, surrounded by pavement, the poor tree is doomed to an existence of sexual frustration.

Best (and cheapest) thrill in Hong Kong (technically not Hong Kong but the Kowloon peninsula facing the island of Hong Kong): walking the waterfront promenade at the tip of Kowloon at twilight. By accident of topography, the Kowloon peninsula is surrounded and embraced by Hong Kong island as the map below shows, so the Hong Kong skyline presents a sweeping view. (Second-cheapest thrill: taking the Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong at twilight or night, which costs less than a dollar.)

Looking down on the Hong Kong skyline from the ridge of the island.

Since Hong Kong island was almost uninhabited until the British established a colony in 1841, there are no thousand-year-old temples to be found. There are some younger ones, such as the Man-Mo temple, built in 1847. 

The Man-Mo temple in context.

Entrance to Jumbo's floating restaurant in the Aberdeen district of Hong Kong. Actually, the restaurant exists as a large boat, with the kitchen on a separate boat alongside. You take a smaller boat to reach the restaurant. This has overall the most extravagantly exotic menu of any place I visited.

Note the expression "海天潜水" appears twice in this picture, with two different translations: "Scuba Diving" and "Ocean Sky Divers." Google Translate renders this phrase as "Sky Dive." (The individual characters mean "sea-heaven-submerge-water".) The dictionary didn't help to clear this up, but the image itself gives clues: PADI is a scuba-diving organization, and the red silhouette of a scuba diver, if you can make it out. Note also the use of bamboo for scaffolding.

These apartments we saw on the way to the airport were awe-inspiring (perhaps less so from the inside). I could only capture a small piece from the taxi window, but the block extends like a vast 300-foot wall.

Haunting advertisement which instills the irresistible urge to buy... well, I don't know what, exactly, but I've got my wallet and I'm headed to the store. 

And, finally, a subtle escalator-cultural-psychology observation. In the USA, a string of escalators is typically arranged head-to-tail, so that one travels upward in a zig-zag pattern. Up and down escalators are intertwined in a sort of flat double helix. People traveling on the up- and down-escalators would be facing the same direction. In Hong Kong, the up- and down-escalators are usually arranged in pairs so that people ascending are facing in the opposite direction from people descending. And then to reach the next escalator, one must walk around from the end of one to the start of the next. Frequently the next set of escalators is even in an entirely different location. 

The skyline picture above shows non-parallel escalators, but even there one had to walk to get from one escalator to the next.