Tuesday, May 5, 2009

“When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it.” -Hugh Newell Jacobsen

Post by: Beth

Our move to Hong Kong was smooth and uneventful... After a 4-hour flight, we landed safely and took our first HK taxi to our new home. From the plane and taxi windows, huge mountains were surrounding and hiding much of the city. About 3/4 of the way through the taxi ride, we drove between two mountain ranges and all of a sudden, the city was in front of us and HUGE. My camera was all packed up in the trunk, so I didn't get to get any pictures as we entered the city for first the time, but as soon as we got to our apartment, I took lots of pictures from our window:

The next day, we had the usual errands that need to be completed after a move into a new city... Buying subway passes, finding Raja's work building, locating cell phone providers and sorting out plans, etc. It's not so bad since it's a good way to see a new city and learn how to navigate the area. The day's activities took us all over Central, Hong Kong, and I took lots of photographs of our first day out and about in Hong Kong.

The metro stations are modern, clean, and efficient.. much like the subway cars themselves. Digital screens tell you how many minutes until the next train arrives, and despite my research leading me to believe that there'd be much pushing and shoving as people try to load the subway at the same time as passengers are exiting, it's organized and people wait their turns to load until all departing passengers have stepped off the trains.

Many of the buildings in Hong Kong are VERY tall... It's an amazing skyline to view, and at any point you can look up in the sky and see buildings towering above you. Most of the buildings in the Central area look very modern, and are well taken care of.

We're on the way to the IFC (Int'l Fiancial Center) buildingto check out some of their stores, visit a bookstore for a guide to HK, and eat lunch.

The IFC building contains a huge mall, plenty of restaurants, and many floors of office and commercial space.

After lunch and some shopping in the IFC mall, we're off to locate Raja's office building. Before too long, we found it right outside of a metro station:

Since Citi's office building is in a large business district, there are lots of huge buildings all around... Before we headed back home to Kowloon, I took a few pictures of the office buildings in Central.

We had a good time exploring the city and taking photographs for the blog, and got some of our errands done at the same time. First impressions are that Hong Kong offers lots to do, has a public transportation system that's very easy to figure out, and is every bit as large and energetic as we'd heard.

For more facts on Hong Kong, I took some info from chinahighlights.com, in case you're interested:

Hong Kong is the Pearl of Orient and an economic centre of Asia. For tourists, Hong Kong is a shopping paradise because most of the goods in Hong Kong needn’t to be tariff. The famous Hong Kong attractions are Disneyland Park, Kim Tin Walled Village, Kowloon park, and Victoria Peak.

Location: Hong Kong is located at latitude 22°15′N and longitude 114°10′E. It lies in the southeast of China and borders on Shenzhen to the north and South Sea to the south.

Area: Hong Kong covers an area of 1.07 thousand square kilometers.

Terrain: Hong Kong is hilly. North of Hong Kong is lowland. About 200 islands exist in or around Hong Kong. The Dawu Mountain is 959 meters in height and it is the highest peak in Hong Kong.

Climate: January, with an average temperature of 15℃, is the coldest month and July, with an average temperature of 28℃, is the hottest month.

Number of Population: 6.6 million

Languages: Mandarin, Cantonese and English

History of Hong Kong: For thousands of years, Hong Kong was a small fishing village. In 1842, Qing Dynasty's army lost Hong Kong Island to Great Britain after they were defeated in the first Opium War. In 1860 Qing Dynasty's army were defeated in the second Opium War and the whole Hong Kong was occupied by Britain. In 1970s, Hong Kong's economy developed rapidly. On July 1st, 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to China.

Update on our next move....

Post by: Beth

We're in the process of moving from Singapore to Hong Kong, which signals the final 6-month rotation period for Raja's job. So far, we've rotated through Manhattan, St. Louis, Bombay, and most recently, Singapore.

Singapore has been great.. It's given me a totally different perspective than India lent, which is one of the cool things about all this moving around. India was crazy, hectic, dirty, and really challenging. Singapore is calm, quiet, extremely clean, and a REALLY easy lifestyle. There's good to both, really.. Singapore is so simple and I get around so easily by myself and everyone speaks English so the days and nights are easy and fun. India was a lot tougher, but I feel like I really stretched myself and learned so much from the place and its people. I've gone from one extreme to the other, and both are good experiences. I survived in both, that's what's important!! Haha!

From what we can tell about Hong Kong, it should lie somewhere in between the two, as far as lifestyle and environment goes. A lot busier than Singapore, but probably not as chaotic as India. There will be much fewer English-speakers than are here in Singapore, but probably still enough to get by without any MAJOR problems, due to it being a fully-developed nation with a lot of influences from the West, along with a strong ex-pat presence. We also know a few people already located in Hong Kong, so that will be quite a change from our experiences in India and Singapore, where we initally knew no one. All in all, we've done about as much research as we can, and the only thing left to do in Hong Kong is to live it and find out for ourselves what's ahead.

"It is so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun?" -Matthew Arnold

Post by: Beth

Our last weekend in Singapore was jam-packed with fun things we wanted to do before we left... Here are some pics from the highlight of our weekend: a trip to Sentosa Beach. :)

We took a tram over from a mall to Sentosa. Along the way, out the windows, we could see strings of cable cars that also take people to Sentosa... Each of these little dots on the line is a cable car carrying passengers across the water.

After a 30 minute tram-ride, we're in Sentosa! You can see the yellow tram below, ready to take passengers back to the city.

The merlion is a well-known icon of Singapore. It's an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Its name combines "mer" (meaning the "sea") and "lion." The fish body comes from Singapore's ancient name back when it was a fishing village — Temasek — meaning "sea town" in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore's original name — Singapura — meaning "lion city" or "kota singa" in Sanskrit and Malay.

We spent a few hours at a restaurant patio on the beach, and then headed back to the tram to ride back to the city. Here's Sentosa at night, just before we left: