Mong Kok Streets

HONG KONG 2009

Bookmark and Share 30/03/2009

Oddities and brief adventures during a recent trip to Hong Kong.

The EA Experience, how Coke relates, androgynous Hello Kittys, surrealist jazz bars and getting chatted up on a plane…

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This is a loose continuation of a post on a recent trip to Malaysia. You can find the related post here: Malaysia 2009.

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Hotel Room

The View

The view from our hotel room was impressive, but it was nothing compared to what they are building across the harbour. When complete, the International Commerce Centre (ICC) will be Hong Kong’s new highest building – 75m taller than their current tallest building, the International Finance Centre (IFC). The ICC will have the third highest roof in the world. Apparently it was going to be taller but it had to be “… scaled back from earlier plans due to regulations that didn’t allow buildings to be taller than the surrounding mountains.” Right.

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The Peak

The Peak During The Day

The view from The Peak is one to savour. We arrived just before sunset …

The Peak At Night

… to see it transform.

The EA Experience Intrigue

A trip to The Peak is what one would expect, but then you run into this – The EA Experience.

I’m not sure who at EA thought this was a good idea because it makes no sense. Is this what EA spent all their money on before the global financial crisis hit? Hundreds of visitors walked right on by with barely a glance, but as a long-time gamer I could not resist. What is contained within this temple of EA? Exclusive merchandise and collectibles? Rare memorabilia? Unique insights into upcoming games? At the very least, how about some cool Spore statuettes and figurines for purchase?

The EA Experience Disappointment

No. Just lots and lots of boring EA merchandise. By boring I mean nothing you couldn’t find at your local games stores (except EA clothing but who in their right mind would wear EA?). Why bother with this expensive endeavour if it has nothing exclusive or interesting to offer? As a gamer this could have been a very worthwhile and pleasant surprise. Instead it was just a confusing disappointment. What a wasted opportunity.

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Happy Valley Racecourse

An amazing racecourse situated a short tram ride away from the city.

Happy Valley Racecourse - Below

It seems this is where a great portion of expats congregate on race nights. An inverse racial demographic to the rest of Hong Kong.

Happy Valley Racecourse - Above

The view from the topmost public balcony. A lush shade of green I haven’t seen in a very long time.

Did I mention it’s spectacular?

And yes I placed a bet and yes I lost because I had no idea what I was doing.

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Victoria Harbour

A trip on a ferry around Victoria Harbour is a must, as it reveals parts of Hong Kong you wouldn’t normally see from the land. Sights like…

HSBC Takes Aim

A massive pair of guns atop HSBC. I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure they point towards the Bank of China.

Hillside Graveyard

A large hillside graveyard. A view to die for…

Dragon Holes

Apartment blocks with huge holes in the middle so that dragons can fly through them. Really.

Tsing Tao Extreme

Wine bottle sized uh, bottles of Tsing Tao beer.

I jest. This was actually soon after the ferry ride. Alcohol is so cheap and prevalent in Hong Kong it puts Australia to shame. You can purchase two of these bottles in any 7-11 for HKD$20. That’s around $2.50 Australian per bottle!

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Dada Bar & Lounge

A surrealist jazz bar located in The Luxe Manor.

The Luxe Manor is an intriguing celebration of the abstract and the extraordinary. As richly diverse in style as the origins of our guests, The Luxe Manor is a boutique hotel as though fashioned from Salvador Dali’s fertile imagination. Surreal yet unexpectedly comforting, discover a delightfully rich eclectic mix of Oriental and European decor with Post-modern sensibilities.

In reality it’s insanely impressive.

Love Chairs and Madness

A unique experience, full of weird and wonderful things.

Jewels

Tables full of jewels.

Portals?

Ornate décor and much, much more (if you’re only going to click one link, this is the one).

Unfortunately on the night, we were basically the only patrons around. The jazz band (who were great considering) played to us exclusively but we could only last a set before the awkwardness of the whole situation became too much to bear. It was a great place but hopefully next time around there’ll be others to enjoy it with.

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Marketing

Coca Cola Hong Kong Style

The Coke side of life. In Hong Kong that means eating the craziest hot pot ever while being crazy happy (I can’t read Chinese).

Wear Halo Wars

Microsoft teams up with fashion label XLarge to promote Halo Wars. Obviously game marketing is ‘different’ in Hong Kong. I thought the EA Experience was the exception. I was wrong.

In hindsight I should’ve bought the special Halo Wars pack and resold it on eBay. Only in Hong Kong…

Hello

An androgynous Hello Kitty. It looked at me longingly…

This explains its origins. I guess…

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In-Flight Chat

We flew with budget carrier Air Asia X the entire trip. Usually it’s what you would expect from a budget airline, but due to their recent acquisition of new planes, flying Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur ended up as quite an interesting experience. Why? Free in-flight chat between passengers.

What does it offer? Private and public chat rooms, customisable names (the seat number is mandatory), and word censorship (swear words and sensitive terms like ‘terrorist’ and ‘bomb’ are asterisked but oddly enough ‘fuckshitifoundabomb’ isn’t censored).

Unexpected Advances

So what would you do if you had access to in-flight chat?

a/s/l

And much to my surprise, everyone in the chat room knew what it meant. IRC is alive and well.

On the flight back to Australia, the 15 of us (Australians, Malaysians, Canadians) got to know each other without ever meeting one another. We were dispersed throughout the plane and we could see each other but no one ever made physical contact. Classic really. But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh no.

So 14J (Loves To Spooge) and 26F (me) got to chatting about this and that. You know, defending our respective cities (14J Gold Coast, 26F Brisbane), slagging off other cities (in Sydney the gangsters have bazookas), where we’ve just visited, when we’re going back to work, and then the food carts arrive. Being Australian the topic of beer comes up and well… 14J asks, “26F: Can I buy you a drink?”

Of course I said yes. It would be impolite to say no. The second I accepted I could hear giggling nearby, and gasps of disbelief from my partner sitting next to me. “Is 14J serious?” exclaims my brother in the seat in front of me.

Clarity

A few minutes later.

“Excuse me sir. Your friend from 14J says this is for you.”

“Oh… thanks.”

Typing on the screen, “My shout next.”

“Sure thing mate.”

Returning the Favour

And I never even met the guy… Australians…

A few minutes later I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was home.

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Posted by Yang Wong in talk Top
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  • http://if90.net Shu

    So many cool sights! It still amazes me how such a relatively small place like Hong Kong can house so many little (and not so little) wonders. How long was the HK leg of your trip? Also, that in-flight chat system is ingenious. How long it will remain a friendly utopia where strangers buy each other drinks, however, remains to be seen!

  • mh

    Awesome views of HK. Any interesting eats?

  • maggie

    I don’t think they are guns on top of the HSBC building. I think they are just cranes for moving large stuff up and down the building

  • Yang Wong

    @Shu 5 days all up. There’s so much to do in Hong Kong and lots more we did that isn’t in the post. Would love to go back.

    @mh We had a fair few interesting encounters with food over there. Will see what I can find. Took photos of most of our meals. I still have a massive Malaysian hawker post I should write up too. Argh. :P

  • Yang Wong

    @maggie That’s what they tell residents and then one day during an invasion the whole building transforms into a giant robot that protects the city… oh wait this isn’t Japan.

  • miranda

    did you watch the light show at 8? my favourite part of it was everyone’s oooh and aaaahs at the lazers :P

    did you walk around the edge of the peak? there is a walkway that goes around the mountain. it’s awesome to be in dense bush looking down on HK!

  • Yang Wong

    @miranda We did but from afar at Aqua Spirit so we didn’t get the full effect. Still pretty cool though. We didn’t end up walking around the peak this time around. Got dark pretty quick.

  • Al

    Hey great photos from Victoria Peak. I never got a clear day at the peak, so to see the view in it’s entirety is really impressive.

    Ahhh man, I want $2.50 towers of tsing tao beer :(. Amazingly enough, being crazy happy and eating from the Hot Pot equialent of noah’s arc is exactly what Coca-cola means to me too ;)

    Haha, I love the inflight chat up story. Awesome.

  • Kate
    • Totally guns on the top of HSBC.
    • Your in-flight conversation was the highlight of the flight back. I couldn’t believe it actually arrived! It was horrifying.
    • My face has been pedo-swirled
    • I should have taken a handful of the ‘gems’ – I was obsessed – plus, we’d be rich. RICH!
  • CHWong

    Air Asia X sounds like an awesome flying experience. Might be time to book a flight to KL when I get some holidays.

  • http://ninjawookie.livejournal.com ninjawookie

    Hong Kong was attacked by Godzilla in Godzilla VS Destroyah. Now they need gun turrets on top of the buildings