20 July 2004

Capitalist Enclave.

Hong Kong is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Two days was nowhere near enough time to see the city, but we got a good impression. I stayed with Sarah Kirk (THANK YOU!), who showed us around the city for two days. In the morning before meeting up with Sarah, we went to the enormous mall near the pier for lunch at the best food court I've ever been in (gelato anyone?). We took the famous Star Ferry across the harbor to Hong Kong Island where we visited the jade market. Although of questionable authenticity, there was a lot of interesting jewelry and Mao antiques. Commie chic is definitely in fashion.

After the market, we took the world's longest covered escalator to Hollywood Road and visited the Man Mo temple, one of the few temples in Hong Kong not for the sea god. We walked along Hollywood Road window-shopping in the various antique shops and stalls. Later, we took the cable car to the top of Victoria Peak for a fabulous dinner overlooking Hong Kong. We went out on the observation deck, and although the typhoon had just left, it was still a beautifully clear night. We took a cab back to the Kirk's high-rise apartment, and watched some English news and read American magazines for a much-needed update on US current events (Kerry named a running mate? News to me!).

The next day, we slept in and took the shuttle bus down to Hong Kong, and walked around downtown on our way to the Banana Leaf Curry House, a fabulous Indonesian/Thai restaurant. They used to serve food on banana leaves, but I think the health department has since intervened. Even thought the food was only on plates, it was still delicious! After lunch, we took the double decker trolley car over to Stanley, where we had dessert at a cafe overlooking the beaches before walking through the "wet" market (fish and such) to the famed Stanley Market, where we shopped around for a little while before heading back downtown. I caught the Star Ferry back to the Kowloon side, and had dinner before rushing back to the ship for departure. Hong Kong was an amazing city- it's so different from anything I've ever seen!

Two news items that may reach home – The typhoon was anticlimactic- Hong Kong ended up with just over 1 inch of rain, and no damage. The seas were a bit rough, so that's why the ship couldn't dock until late. The group that was supposed to fly out before us got delayed, but they made it in around 10pm that night. The ship finally made it to the dock around midnight that night- everyone on the boat missed his or her first day in Hong Kong. Also, I don't know if this is on the website or made the news, but while in Beijing, a student fell seriously ill and delirious, and was rushed to a hospital, where it was discovered that she had a very large, inoperable brain tumor. Sadly, she passed away two days ago in Beijing, after seeing the Great Wall and Beijing, one of her life dreams. The ship had a beautiful memorial service last night for her. I just wanted to make sure everyone knew what happened in case it made the news back home. We've decided that some of the fundraising we do on board ship will go to a scholarship in her memory for future students on Semester at Sea.

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