Friday, January 8, 2010

Stuff from first days in Hong Kong

Finally got my internet working, so here's a few thoughts about the first few days in Hong Kong:

January 7, 2010
I arrived in HK last night around 8:00pm. I was originally supposed to arrive around 6:50pm, but my flight in Beijing was delayed about an hour and 15 minutes due to tons of snow there. Chanwa was at the airport waiting for me, but I had a brief moment of panic when I went to the previously arranged meeting place of the Arrival A Starbucks and did not find him there. I quickly calmed down, though, when an Asian man in a Boston College sweatshirt speaking perfect English came up to me from the other side of the hall and asked if I was Blaine. Good enough proof for me that this was indeed the legendary Uncle Chanwa. He drove us (in his beautiful Mercedes S500, I might add) to Uncle Fred’s hotel, The Conrad Hong Kong (an extension of the Hilton brand). We had a late dinner there (Uncle Fred had just arrived about an hour before me), with a view overlooking part of the HK financial district. After that we spent the better part of 40 minutes trying to find my dorm, Lee Hysan Hall. Upon arrival, I was thanking god that we had Chanwa, as the woman at the front desk was a rather severe Chinese woman who spoke not a word of English. Chanwa brilliantly came in with his fluent Cantonese and sorted everything out for me, and after filling out some paperwork I went up to my dorm, being told that I did not currently have a roommate. However, upon arrival I met my roommate who was said to not exist, a Malaysian named Nick. Nick is a freshman (will be a 4-year HKU student) majoring in computer science. His English is remarkably good, and he seems as though he’ll be a very nice roommate. I went to bed relatively early. This morning I woke up around 8am after a restless night of sleep, due to not having any blanket or pillow, and the fact that the room was freezing. Uncle Fred and Uncle Chanwa picked me up around noon, and we headed to Pacific Place mall for my suit fitting. After the suit fitting, we went upstairs to the Hotel Shangri-La for lunch. We called up Uncle Chanwa to come meet us there, and had a really nice lunch overlooking some nice parts of central Hong Kong. After lunch we headed to a department store to get some sheets/blankets/pillows for my bed. The store was enormous, and Chanwa said that it was mostly mainland Chinese that were causing the store to be jam-packed, going so far as to say that without the mainland Chinese, Hong Kong would be gone. After that we went to pick up some transcripts for Chanwa’s son at his old school. He is attempting to transfer from Boston College to either Penn or Stanford. After that we headed to get some passport pictures done for my student ID card, and had some much needed (especially in Uncle Fred’s case, as he was really jet lagged) Starbucks. From there we went to the Conrad, where Uncles Fred and Chanwa did some business. We then went for another suit fitting, where they take pieces of the suit and try them on you to make sure they fit well. It was a bit awkward, having several very small Chinese men poking and prodding and using pins to adjust sizes, but it was a very cool experience. After the suit fitting we went back upstairs to the Conrad, where Fred and Chanwa did a bit more business. We then left for dinner around 7:15, and went across the bay to the mainland, to a different hotel Shangri-La. We had a huge dinner with 2 of Fred’s business associates, Craig and Billy, as well as a Frenchman living in Hong Kong named Loic. The dinner consisted of some excellent Peking Duck. After dinner we headed back to Lee Hysan where they dropped me off, and I said my goodbyes to Uncle Fred for awhile, as he’s heading into mainland China for a couple of weeks before coming back to HK.

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