Hong Kong & Taiwan 2011 – part 3

04Jan12

Home again. Got no chance to write during the last days.

Before I left Taipei I met up with a friend from last summer. He’s been there all along, studying Mandarin. I’m more than a little jealous. But it was good see a familiar face again, and I enjoyed trying out a new night market.

Nightmarkeds are one of the best things about Taiwan, and although you can buy all kinds of things there, to me they are mostly about food. The meals are composed as you walk along the stalls, usually in small portions, so that you can try out lots of places before you are too full to continue.

This poster says something like “Cooperating with you to create wealth.” Posting it because it’s related to a conversation I had. Asked a girl why people in Taiwan are so helpful, and she said people there actually have a stronger incentive to help others. One reason being that dissatisfaction with the services provided by the state had made people take matters into their own hands.  Additionally there is a belief that both people and businesses must do good and contribute to society in order to be successful. Consequently both people and companies are investing in making society better for everyone. Could be I’m putting too much into this, but  it seems the people really care about doing some good. I wonder what kind of social engineering could be used to inspire this in other countries. Must it be a small country? I kept asking people why they cared so much about both society and the environment, and they would answer: “This is just a small island. If we don’t take care, we would feel it very soon.” Very inspiring.

Creative English, used intentionally and unintentionally, also make the days more interesting. This sign didn’t really make me want to go in there, but maybe that’s just me, because I have seen these shops in several places.

Outside a restaurant steam comes from a statue’s fingers every few seconds. If only I could do that!

After the week in Taipei I went back to HK. Wasn’t sure what to do with my time. Knew a few people I could call, but felt lazy. Ended up walking around the tourist areas, like the harbor, with the Star Ferries, which are old and stylish, and a good alternative to the mtr, when you want to go out to the island. You can even pay the fare with the card from the mtr. In fact you can pay lots of things with the Octopus Card. Since I have this fear of spreading my personal information about, I like this card a lot. It’s digital money, that are entirely anonymous. Why doesn’t every place have this?

There were more exotic boats about, but I guess they’re just tourist attractions.

Found Mr Lee again. He still looks worried. Maybe it’s because of the constant flow of tourists, flocking around, making threatening poses and sounds.

Blue movie poster. When a poster is left up until it fades to this shade of blue, you know it’s a good movie. I love this one. Some day I’ll have to accept that HK is not only about Jackie Chan, but not yet.

As the sun finally managed to find a way down between the skyscrapers, I though of the black kites from my previous visit. It turns out that during winter HK has the largest populations of these in the world. They are all over the place, and most active around sunset. So I noted the time, and decided to go to the peak the next day.

Gangway poster – Are kites are allowed?😉

Improvised a route up to the peak the next day. Ended up on The Green Trail, or something like that. Saw some kites, but only from a distance. Got much more lucky a few days later, but that’s a different story.

Part of the view from the peak, before and after nightfall.

Another day I tried to sneak up on some skyscrapers instead. That was much easier.

In HK small skyscrapers have bigger skyscrapers that they can go shopping in…

The big city gets a bit too much for me after a while, and then I look for places to hide away. The Central Library was one of those places. Good selection of books there, and books make feel safe, and life meaningful. Think that might be a sign I’ve been at the university too long. Hope I will get away one day, but can I really make it on my own out there?

Later on I thought about trying out some of the gyms in HK, but eventually decided to leave that for another time. Note to self: Good gyms are supposed to be Pure, California, Physical, Fitness First.

Towards the end of my stay, I moved to Hong Kong University to visit a friend studying there. HKU is the oldest university, and a place I’ve wanted to see for some time. This was by far the best part of my trip. I didn’t go to HK to be a tourist, but to get a feel for the place, as I’m thinking of going there to work later on. After stuying Chinese I feel sort of stretched. Don’t really belong back home, and not in China either. Have to go over there when I have the chance, but not sure what to do with  my time there. It usually just makes me wonder why I started studying Chinese in the first place. But I forget about all that when I get to hang out with someone familiar, who knows the way around the place. Also, the rooms at the guest house there were awsome! A bit more expensive than a hostel, but more spacious and well equipped than a hotel.

“Sapientia et Virtus” – “Clever and Nice,” or something thereabouts.

Graduate students were climbing all over the place, getting their photographs.

We watched the light show from the harbour one evening. Pretty unique to HK, and it really points out how special this city is. Another day we took a ferry out  to Lamma Island. Amazing that half an hours boat ride away from the busy atmosphere of the city takes you to such a quiet and idyllic place. Lots of people live there and work in the city, getting the best of both worlds.

Just as I started running low on Asics it was time to go home.

The flight back was the smoothest yet. Like a phone I switched to flight mode, and shut of all contact with the world. Couldn’t really tell whether 10 hours had passed, or just 1. The longest stretch took about 12 hours, which is a long time to just sit in a chair, but somehow it didn’t really start to hurt until they said we were going to land soon. Anticipation is dangerous stuff. When I traveled the other way, I’d made sure to have a proper workout the day before, and I wished I’d had done the same now. Much more easy to sit still and relax when that is what the body wants to do anyway.

When I got home I realized I’d forgotten all about home, school, and my normal life. After a heavy semester that’s a real blessing, and the best way I could have prepared for the next one.

So that’s Taipei and HK through my eyes and camera. Much of it is just the standard tourist motives. Will try to something more meaningful next time. Maybe even find a job for a while.



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