Kowloon: The Phog!
Yes, it's time for another phog. (Should I have made some sort of "phog is rolling in" joke there? Possibly. Oh well.) Rather than another Hong Kong phog, I thought I would mix things up a little and make a Kowloon phog. Which is sort of splitting hairs, since Kowloon is part of Hong Kong, but if you don't like it you can move to China and make your own blog. So there.
For those who aren't up your Hong Kong geography--God knows I wasn't until I went there--Hong Kong consists of three main parts: Hong Kong Island, which is where I took pretty much all the pictures in the previous Hong Kong phog; Kowloon, which is the area across the harbor from the island; and the New Territories, which is the land that surrounds Kowloon and is next to the Chinese mainland. This trip, we stayed in Kowloon. The area we stayed in, which was just across the harbor from Hong Kong Island, is called Tsim Sha Tsui. In Cantonese, that is apparently--and quite confusingly, I might add--pronounced "chim sa joy." And no, I don't understand it either, for what it's worth, but it doesn't really make me want to learn Cantonese, that's for sure.
Anyway, since I posted so many pictures from Hong Kong Island last time, I thought I'd only post pictures from the Kowloon side this time. Like, say, this one, which is the view of Hong Kong Island from the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront:
(Side note: Here's some pictures of the view at night.)
If you don't want to take the subway under the bay, the best way to get across is by taking one of the Star Ferries:
This cracks me up. How big is shopping in Hong Kong? So big that cruise ships that come into Hong Kong harbor actually dock at a mall, which is what the building to the right is. Passengers literally step off the boat and into the middle of a gigantic shopping center:
If you look closely, you can see a junk sailing in front of the swoopy building with all the glass, which is also known as the Convention Center. The building, that is, not the junk. I'm not sure what the junk is called, but if I ever had one of my own I would christen it "In the Trunk." That would be awesome:
Besides a really big mall, filled with stores like Prada (one of six in HK) and Burberry (one of nine, I believe), the Tsim Sha Tsui area is also famous for having a bunch of gigantic, run-down, hostels and guesthouses and apartments. Exhibit A:
This is the most famous place, the Chungking Mansions. Looks nice, doesn’t it?
(Side note: If any of you have ever seen the film Chungking Express, it was filmed in and around Chungking Mansions. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's confusing and not much happens but it looks incredible. I'm not sure if that's a recommendation or not, but it's what you're getting.)
The funniest thing about walking around in Tsim Sha Tsui is that it looks just like you imagine Hong Kong looks before you actually go to Hong Kong: lots of crazy little streets with people selling food that looks and smells fairly questionable, and neon signs everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. I think some streets had so many signs hanging over them that if it started raining when you were walking down one you wouldn't ever know. Because, you know, the signs would stop all the rain from actually hitting street level. Okay, okay, I know it's weak, but it's the best I can think of right now. Well, other than trying to make some sort of torturous comparison to The Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns builds a huge dome to block out the sun. Which doesn't really have anything to do with signs in Hong Kong, but it's a pretty funny episode ...
Um, where was I? Oh, I remember. Signs. Loads of signs. D'oh!
However, Tsim Sha Tsui (you are saying "chim sa joy" every time, right?) isn't all cruise ship piers/shopping malls, fancy stores selling overpriced handbags, and crumbling blocks of apartment buildings. While we were wandering around one morning, we discovered that it also has a park. And not just any park, oh no--it has a kung fu park. Seriously:
(The sign is a little hard to read, but it says "Kung Fu Corner.")
The view from our bench at kung fu corner. Why they decided to fill said corner with weird sculptures is beyond me, but I kept waiting for someone to destroy one of the statues with their bare hands using some fancy kung fu moves. Sadly, it never happened. Who could have guessed?
And apparently, "Kung Fu Corner" is a total misnomer, because lots of people were doing other stuff. Really, it should have been called "Generic Martial Arts Corner" or something, because these people ... these people are not doing kung fu:
These two guys, however, were doing kung fu. It looked like the were practicing for a Jackie Chan movie--lots of fast punching and blocking that looked very fancy, but didn't actually accomplish anything:
And these people ... I'm not sure what they were doing. Basically, the guy just stood there while the woman punched him in the back for about a minute straight. I call it abuse, they call it kung fu. Tomato, tomatoe, whatever:
On the way back from the park, we walked by something funny. This guest house, the Mirador Mansion--or, if you go strictly by the sign, the "Mirador an ion", is where Holly stayed the first time she ever went to the HK, eight or nine years ago. Makes me sort of glad that I missed it:
This time, we managed to stay at a much nicer hotel, despite the fact it was not called a "Mansion," or even a " an ion." In fact, when we checked in, we even got upgraded to a room with a "harbor view." Naturally we were excited, until we actually saw our harbor view. It could have been a little better:
However, despite our lack of a true harbor view, we carried on, undaunted. (So brave of us, I know.) How? Well, mostly we did it by walking across the street to hang out at the much nicer (that is, much more expensive), much better known hotel across the street:
(Felix, and its famous bathroom, are on the top floor of the Peninsula.)
However, since we figured the staff at the Peninsula probably would have gotten annoyed at some point with us just hanging out in the lobby, we decided to have high tea as our last official act in Hong Kong before we went to the airport to come back to Shanghai. Probably getting dim sum would have been more fitting, but we'd already had dim sum for breakfast and I'm not sure you can have it twice in one day. Well, I supposed you can, but I'm not sure you should, since dim sum isn't exactly health food. Then again, neither was high tea. Scones with jam and butter are low fat, right:
How was it? Well, the food was good, but I think it would have been a little better if it had been "High Coffee." And actually, I would have liked to have the crusts on my sandwich. And actually, a nice roast beef sandwich would have been nice. And maybe some pie or something to go with my coffee, preferably cherry, banana cream, or sweet potato-pecan. That wouldn't defeat the entire purpose high tea, would it? No, I don't think so either ...