Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hanging around Hong Kong....

On Friday evening, Gino and I met up with Lorraine Justice who runs the School of Design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and is considered to be one of the world's most influential designers. A thoroughly delightful evening at every level.
When I first visited Hong Kong in 1988 (and again in 1998), I remember how surprised I was that so many of the aparment buildings...often 50, 60 or 70 floors high...were also so incredibly thin and narrow. If you were going to build something that high in the US, they always seemed to create a much wider base. Or, at least, taper it up towards the top so that it was not like a straight-edge. Not so over here. The streets in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island are packed with very thin, narrow high-rise buildings that shoot straight up to dizzying heights with absolutely no break in their outward shells. Some of them look like they could tip over in a major typhoon.
On Saturday, we hung around Gino's house and went swimming with the kids. On Sunday, Lily (Gino's wife), their three kids, and I took a 2-hour hike into the hills overlooking the city. Although the weather is still remaining a bit rainy, the views along the walking trail are still very impressive. Afterwards, the whole family and I joined Lily's family at their weekly Sunday brunch at an exclusive country club nearby. Excellent food and I got a chance to meet some of Lily's siblings as well as her 85-year old father (the patriarch of the family) and her stepmother. On Sunday night, we had a private dinner with Lily's parents and one of her sisters (a professional actress and singer) at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University where Gino is an Associate Professor. Afterwards, Gino and I went over to visit Lorraine and her family at their apartment on the 43rd floor. They live in a super-modern apartment building with an absolutely outrageous view of the city and of the harbor beyond. We had some wine and enjoyed a fascinating conversation with Cory, a friend of Lorraine and Gino's. Monday was a "work day" so we went into the Gino's office so that he could handle the myriad of things that he still has to take care of before he leaves tomorrow for two weeks in the US.
After work, we took a bus to an area of the city called Mong Kok. This is the best place to purchase anything of an electronic nature: cell phones, TVs, Ipods, video games, gadgets, headphones, etc. etc. They shut streets off to vehicular traffic and so the pedestrians take over until very late in the evening. The atmosphere is energetic and even celebratory. With the bright lights coming from all of the electronic stores and malls, it seemed as bright as midday even though it was close to 11 P.M. by the time we left.
After Gino leaves late Wednesday evening, I will probably begin staying with Lorraine and her family in their high-rise apartment. Meanwhile, Cedrick (Gino's employee that I had first met in Kuala Lumpur) and I are tentatively planning to head over to Macau (via boat) this weekend for further adventures. Macau was originally a Portugese colony (much like Goa in India), and is the closest thing to Las Vegas that China has going right now. In fact, Steve Wynn is currently building a US$1.1 billion dollar casino there right now. I remember doing some lightweight gambling in Macau when I first visited there in 1988, but I'm sure that things have grown a lot since then. Happily, you don't need to have a Chinese visa in order to visit Macau, and the place is considered to be extremely safe with the residents there all enjoying a very high life's expectancy. Tonight, we're going to all get together with Lorraine again for further fascinating conversations.
Meanwhile, though, I'm acutely aware that my three month trip around southeast Asia is slowly beginning to wind least for a while. As it stand now, I've scheduled myself to fly to Maui (via Manila) on Saturday, June 24th, in order to spend a few days with my vacationing oldest daughter, Chimene, her husband, John, and their two kids, Jasper and Kiana. After that, it'll be back to California. More later...


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