Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lord Stanley, Queen Victoria, and little old Nan Jian

Yesterday, (friday) i first visited the "Stanley's Market'. The name threw me, as the first image i had was a nice organic grocery store. Instead, i found out that Stanley's refers to Lord Stanley, an apparent old time Governor of Hong Kong. This is one of the somewhat strange aspect of Hong Kong. Everything is governed by 3 languages here. Alongside names such as Mong Kok, or Shih Wan Tsai, are names like "Diamond Hill" and "Stanley's Plaza".

The use of english goes beyond the names of locations here. EVERYONE at least understands english and i think only those over the age of 60, don't speak it. At hotels when you call, they all use english, not cantonese, and not mandarin, I pick up the hotel room phone to call the front desk, and i hear, "Hello sir how may i help you?" The MTR (the train system here) has a lovely voice that explains everything in 3 different languages. "Mind the gap between the train and the platform" or "Next stop is Mong Kok", i wish i could meet the bearer of this voice as she has an unbelievable english accent.

One offshoot of the fact that everyone speaks english is that it also means i am not only able to get around, it feels even more bizarre. I feel like i am both 20 miles away from Chicago, and also 7000 miles away.

So.. anyway, Stanley's market is an EXACT replica of Venice Beach California. There is no muscle beach, and no rollerblading guitarist, but the street stalls sell the same type of crap, and there is a beach nearby. We had no confidence in the chinese food and instead got some great indian food.

We later went to Victoria Peak, a nice mountainside area with a great view of the city... if only the air pollution wasn't 3x than in LA. The haze is unreal, it sits on everything.

While most of the day was spent with observing tourish and commerical culture of HK, we did get to end the night with a nice walk at a beautiful buddhist garden and a vegetarian meal behind a man-made waterfall. The food was quite incredible, it involved pine nuts fried rice, tempurad mushrooms, this amazing soup and other stuff that i have no idea what it is.

We stuffed ourselves on the food, and made our way across the bay on the Star Ferry. My dad kept remarking that everything was so "efficient", personally, i just think tourists all over the world tend to listen to instructions.

No comments: