Periscope Depth

hong kong, part 5

Part Four

  • What else is there to do in Hong Kong, besides eat dim sum and buy cheap merchandise? Try a foot massage! But get a recommendation first, because every block has the sign of the smiling insole poking out of one building or another. We got a recommendation from Josh and Emma (echoed by Fodors, so we marched through Central to Happy Foot Reflexology Center. $200 HKD (about $26 US) apiece got Sylvia and I 45-minute foot massages. And these people do not waste your time. They will grind, roll, buff and pummel your legs from the knees down. I appreciated it, but Sylvia, who dances when she’s not accompanying me through Asia, felt like she’d been given a new pair of feet. Highly recommended.

  • Speaking of typical tourist stuff: Victoria Peak is worth the hype. Find a way to get your tickets ahead of time (lots of tour buses offer packages) and plan to eat at a restaurant on the peak gallery. Take a public bus down for cheap and save yourself some time, too.

  • Expats drink all over the city, but the best place to find them seems to be Lan Kwai Fong (LKF). Picture New Orleans spread through a series of near-vertical alleys, only accessible by steep, cobblestone paths. Josh and Emma took us to a couple of bars in the neighborhood our last night there. I remember none of their names.

  • Sylvia found us two museums. The Hong Kong Museum of History had a permanent exhibit on the history of the island, taking us from its geological formation (I skipped that) through the days of its early tribes, up to British rule, Japanese occupation and the present day. The Hong Kong Museum of Art featured a lovely exhibit on calligraphy, the history of Chinese “export painters” who reproduced British sketches en masse and the art of scroll paintings. Each museum advised us that their doors were disinfected eight times per day.

  • Hong Kong seems prepared to funnel users into and out of the city better than anywhere I’ve been. Free shuttles loop from every hotel in Kowloon to Kowloon Station, where you can take a reasonably priced monorail across the water to Hong Kong International Airport. You can even check in for your flight at Kowloon Station. Only Walt Disney World (where you can do flight check-in from your resort hotel) beats it for convenience.

  • Several people asked what was my favorite part of the trip. I always have a hard time with this question. Small talk remains a mystery to me, and this question seems like such an obvious conversational gambit (e.g., “Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge”) that it shakes me out of the moment. I wonder if I’ve failed at my end of the conversation: if I’ve just been staring blankly, rather than providing entertaining patter, and the other person is prompting me.

  • But here’s a contender: one night, Sylvia and I took dinner in the lobby lounge of the Intercontinental Hotel. The lobby features two-story windows that sweep through a lounge the size of an auditorium, looking out over Victoria Harbor. As an effusive waiter served our cocktails – a Ruby Dragon for the lady; Laphroaig, neat, for the gentleman – the daily light show began. Lasers beamed from one end of the bay to the other while the tallest buildings in the city – the Bank of China Tower, the World Trade Center, the ICC Building – lit up from within. Ferries and party yachts glided across dark water. I sat before one of the finest views of a city I’d spent a decade longing to see, scotch in hand, and thought: I win.

Not my photo, but you get the idea.