Saturday, February 12, 2011

What I learned about Hong Kong

First things first. There's no news on the bidding front.

Second things second. All of our Hong Kong pictures are up on Facebook -- links are below. And no, you do not need an account to view them:

Third things third. Here's a rough account of what we did during our trip:

  • Wake up around 10am. Maybe 11am. Watch Nat Geo Explorer (the only English language channel). Shower. Maybe leave the hotel around noon. Or later.
  • Grab a hot dog and an eggy waffle to sustain us while we hunt for real food
  • Find real food. And coffee.
  • Walk. People watch. Walk some more.
  • Find more food. And more coffee
  • Walk some more. Admire all of the pretties that we can't afford and don't really want anyway but hey they're super nice to look at in the store windows. Watches and electronics for Nick. Clothes and digital cameras for me.
  • Get dinner around 9pm. Or later.
  • Get drinks. And maybe a late night snack.
  • Back to the hotel and in bed around 2am. Maybe

We've found that people here in Kabul are generally surprised to hear that we spent 8 days in Hong Kong. I guess it's not a place people think to go as a final destination; only as part of a grand tour through China. And people really don't think to go there from Kabul. Most of our colleagues seem to head for home (or wherever their families are safe-havened), the beach (Thailand), India, or Europe.

But as I probably said in my posts about our time in Bali --we're not really beach people. Nick doesn't like sand, I get bored just sitting around all day, and neither of us are much for water sports. And as much as we love the outdoors -- hiking, camping, etc. -- the bottom line is we are city people. We love living in DC, with all of the people, restaurants, and stuff to do. We really miss that life; Kabul is the exact opposite. Nowhere to go, no one new to see, nothing to do (especially now that we're not allowed to go out to restaurants for "meetings." This has intensified the feeling of being cut off from normal life). Hong Kong offered lots of everything we miss about normal life -- restaurants, shopping. movies, people watching, hustle and bustle. Plus, Nick and I are different in that he likes to sleep and take naps while on vacation, and I prefer to go, go, go. With Hong Kong, if Nick wanted to take a nap, I could quite easily head out to do something on my own instead of sitting around waiting for him.

So, as strange a choice as it may have seemed to others, Hong Kong was really quite perfect for us!

Fourth things fourth. Here's some stuff I learned about Hong Kong:

  • Sleep is for the weak. The city is open day and night -- even more so than NYC. We were out every night past midnight, and invariably all of the restaurants on our walks home were PACKED with late night eaters.
  • Style is in the eye of the beholder. Hong Kongers wear what they like, and like what they wear. We saw some very...interesting fashions on parade. Although as with every other major city in the world right now, riding boots over tights are de riguer for women. Also, Hong Kong women don't seem to wear jeans. Maybe jeggings. With boots, of course.

  • Maybe sticking out is a good thing. Usually when travelling in exotic lands, it's easy to spot other tourists. They're the other lost looking white people. They notice that you look lost. And then you bond over being lost together. But in Hong Kong, the expat community is so large there's always tons of white people around. So we didn't stick out as being tourists -- we were just another expat couple. So neither the expats nor the Asians reached out to us as travelers. I did kind of miss the random conversations with fellow travelers.

  • A girl for every guy. Attention all middle-aged, divorced expat men. Go to Hong Kong. You're sure to find someone attractive (and Asian) to keep you company. Not judging; just saying!

  • If you drink beer in a bar, everyone will know what you're drinking. Bars in Hong Kong serve beer in brand glasses. If you drink Carlsberg, you get a Carlsberg glass. Drink Stella Artois? You get a Stella glass. Hell, I was even served Strongbow in a Strongbow glass!

  • In Hong Kong people drive on the left, and walk...wherever the hell they want. Nick and I consider ourselves to be experienced city walkers. We know how to look up to admire tall buildings while not crashing into anything. We know how to pass slow walkers and merge into a surging throng when getting back on a sidewalk. But in Hong Kong....man, something about the way people walk there. We just couldn't get into the rhythm. Nick said it was because the locals don't walk in a straight line; they kind of drift side to side. So it's nearly impossible to get the timing right to pass a slow walker-- they're drifting, the oncoming pedestrians (and it's such a busy city that there's always oncoming pedestrians) are drifting. Everyone is drifting and all we could do was drift along with them.

All in all we had a great trip, and returned to Kabul much more energized than after our Turkey trip. Our friends here even noticed the difference.

I'm not sure when we'll get out again. We had planned to go on our last RRB in early March and our last R&R in late April. However, we found out this week that I'm only entitled to one RRB and one R&R during my last 6 months at post, because I'm not doing a full two years (even though Nick is doing two years and I'm on his orders). I finished the first year of my tour at th end of November, and I just used my one RRB to go to Hong Kong. So I have just one more vacation between now and when we depart post in June. Nick, however, has 2 more leaves. This news, on top of the bidding mess, Nick's new tablet breaking, his expensive headphones breaking, and my beloved Chuck Taylors (Converse All Star sneakers, for the unhip) being stolen from outside our apartment (update: my Chucks were returned!) pretty much killed whatever glow we had left from Hong Kong.

But I can still look at the pictures, and marvel at the fun we had, the food we ate, and just marvel at the simple fact that I've been to Hong Kong.

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