Shangai Stuff

The next day was meeting day. My dad had a meeting at the Shanghai youth center. It is a whole building whose whole purpose is to help kids. My dad was going to try to see if he could help some kids get into college into the United States. We got into the fancy meeting room that they only gave to the Gweilos. Even with the signs that said no smoking it still smelled like cigarette smoke. I heard dad’s talk about who to get into college for about the one hundreth time. But luckily I had dads computer so I played some games on it to pass the time. After the meeting we were of course taken out to dinner. In China it is all about the food. There was great food and they were all impressed with my sick nasty chopsticks skills. The day before Sirey and his mom Lingia had invited us to spend the afternoon with them. We told them we probobly wouldn’t make it because of my dad’s meeting. But they came anyway and waited twenty minutes for us to get back to the hotel. Together we walked to old town and visited a garded that used to belong to an aristocratic family but is now a park. You could see where the family lived in all the old style chinese buildings. We walked around some more and had a nice day. we then went back to our hotel and they went back to their friends in which they were staying. after resting our feet for a while in our hotel we went out to meet my parents old friends Edie and Mark Millar and their children Reid and Nora. Mark was not their because he was out on some business trip. First we met up at their apartment by taking a taxi. Their apartment was very big and very nice. We then walked to a nice Shanghainese food. After dinner we went back to their apartment for a lttle while when it got late we said goodbye and thank you and took a taxi back to our hotel.

Bottle Opener Building

The next day was our last day in Shanghai. My dad didn’t have any meeting that day, so we decided to do some touristy things. We ate breakfast at our hotel as we always do. The food is included and is pretty good. The Chinese dishes were good but the American style breakfast foods were a little different. The bacon were just slabs of flavorless pork fat. The sausages tasted like precooked hot dogs, and the French toast looked like it had been soaked in raw egg for 24 hours.

Anyway, after breakfast we decided to visit the Shanghai Financial Center, the tallest building in Shanghai and currently third tallest in the world. But the cool about this buildings that is better than than the ones taller than it is that the observation deck is taller than any other. Also from one angle it looks like a pyramid and from another angle it looks like a bottle opener–like you would use to take the cap off a bottle. We bought tickets to take the elevator up the building. But there is another cool thing about this building. It has two observation decks. One is below the hole and another one is above. We decided to go to the higher one. And the higher one … drum roll please..has glass floor! Bwahaha! It doesn’t have an all glass floor, but it is pretty freaky. After taking alot of pictures and being freaked out on the top, we decided to take the elevator back down.

When we got out it was just the perfect time to get ready to leave for the airport. But there was more confusion. A typhoon was scheduled to hit Hong Kong that day. We tried to call the airlines to find out if the flight was still scheduled  but we didn’t get anyone and there website didn’t say anything either. It probably did but we were on the world’s slowest hotel computer, so it was very hard to get any information out of it. So we decided to go to the airport anyway, and if our flight was canceled.  Oh well.

Turns out the flight was still scheduled, and we had another great Hong Kong Express flight (which is totally better than United Airlines). It also turned out that the typhoon took a 90 degree turn and totally missed Hong Kong.

At the Hui’s House

So far I’ve stayed four nights at the home of Saiyu Hui and Dora Ho and their three boys, Theo, Kyle, and Neil. I call Saiyu and Dora “uncle” and “auntie,” because that is pretty much what kids call their parents’ close friends. Theo, Kyle, and Neil call my dad “Uncle Mark.”

They live in a village near the new town of Ma On Shan in the northeast part of Hong Kong. They don’t live in a huge house. It’s a small apartment in a three-story building. There are two small bedrooms. The first is for Dora, Saiyu, and Neil (he’s two years old). The other is for Kyle and Theo.

They have one common room with a piano, a bunch of toys, a couch, two chairs, a TV, and a dining room table. Also there is a very small kitchen where they cook and where the helper named Annie lives. I’m going to have to figure out where Annie sleeps.

Having a full-time helper is really cool and totally different from what I am used to. Having help means no chores whatsoever. Annie cooks, cleans, does the laundry, washes the dishes, makes beds, and takes care of Neil as a nanny. I think it’s very luxurious to have all this help. Growing up with it would be heaven.

Rugby, Chungking Mansions, and Sushi

Today I went to rugby practice with Theo and Kyle. Most of the teachers there were either British or Australian. There is only one Chinese teacher, who is Uncle William—a friend of Uncle Saiyu and Auntie Dora. William has a son named Nick, who also plays rugby. Nick’s mom is Auntie Annie. I think if I lived here, rugby would be a fun thing to do. Nobody plays American football here, which I think is a good thing, because I don’t really like American football. I much prefer rugby.

After practice, we had lunch on the street—literally on the street (you can see the picture of me that proves it!). After lunch, we went into Kowloon and all of the boys took a walk around Nathan Road. We saw all the cool shops and stores—because there is literally shopping everywhere in Hong Kong. We went into Chungking Mansions, which is a big building where there are a lot of little guest houses, mostly run by Indian people. There are lots of Indian restaurants and stores in Chungking Mansions. It’s definitely not a real mansion. It’s kind of dirty and seems disorganized. But it was interesting.

Then, for the first time in my life, I took a double-decker bus. We all sat in the very front seats on the top deck. I took lots of pictures.

We went to a Japanese supermarket and got lots of sushi and Japanese snacks, and had all that for dinner.

World Expo

In the morning  we went down to meet my friend Sirey Zhang to go to the World Expo that is in Shanghai. Sirey actually goes to my school in Denver, but by coincidence we were both in Shanghai at the same time. So, since my dad had meeting that day we worked it out so that we could go to the expo together.

When we got to the expo after taking the subway, my first observation was that there were LOTS of people. I found out later that that day there were 600,000 people there that day. And that many people means long lines.Very long lines. Almost every pavilion had a 5 or 6 hour wait. The only ones that we got into were small pavilions like Bulgaria and North Korea.

The North Korea Pavilion was interesting though because it didn’t give any information about the country but just showed a bunch of happy smiling people. Marketing I tell you! All these pavilions are simply marketing their country. For example, we got into the US pavilion by taking the express lane which you can pay for or use if you are a citizen of that country. The whole pavilion was full of inspirational videos telling you to come to the US.

But the inside of the pavilions isn’t the only cool part. The architecture of these pavilions is really interesting. Not one is boring to look at. We stayed there all day until it got dark so we could see all the pavilions lit up. Soon after that, we took the subway home and I met my dad late at our hotel. Overall it was a very fun day.

Taxi Ride

After the plane arrived, we grabbed our bags and queued up for a taxi.  Unfortunately for us, our taxi driver was sort of grumpy.  It can be sort of hit-and-miss with taxi drivers.

But the taxi ride was awesome.  From windows we saw tons of skyscraping buildings, each one with lights flashing in different colors.  The architecture is really cool, with buildings in different shapes, including triangles or pyramids.  The ride wasn’t too long, because we went into the smaller, closer-in airport.

After some misunderstanding about the address, we managed to get to the hotel.  We got our room and looked out the window.  Our hotel is called Riverview Hotel, and we have a view of the Huangpu River in central Shanghai.  We can see the Bund and the huge skycrapers across the river, which is called Pudong.  The radio tower looks like two bouncy balls on a stick.  The tallest one looks like a pyramid from our hotel, but when you look at it from a different angle, it looks like a huge bottle opener.

We decide to go look for some Shanghai steamed buns for dinner.  Dad had found a place in a travel book.  We were going to take a taxi, but when a taxi driver told us–in perfect English–that it was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel.  On our walk, we saw lots more of the streets and alleyways of Shanghai. After asking a few people we eventually found the place and ate dinner. After dinner we were pursued by someone trying to sell us a cool laser pointer. I thought it was so when he offered it for 50 Yuen ($8) we bought it. We then went back to our hotel and fell asleep.

Hong Kong Express

The airlines we took to Shanghai was called Hong Kong Express.  I thought it was just going to be a cheapo two-hour flight like on United.  But I was wrong.  It was the coolest, most wonderful flight I’ve ever been on.  I’m now mad at United for not doing the same things on their 747s.  For example, in front of every person, there is a touch screen TV/computer.  You can choose from many TV shows, and a hundred different movies.  As you watch these shows and movies, you can skip forward, rewind, and control what you watch.

The computer also has a video controller and remote, so that you can play video games, too.  I bowled while I was on the plane, and I watched the new Karate Kid movie.

Also, on a two hour flight, we got a meal.  A hot meal.  We could choose from noodles or chicken with rice.  On any US flight of only two hours, you would never get a hot meal.  We also got orange juice, water, and dessert.

In economy, the seat configuration in each row was 2-4-2.  Of course in business and first class, it was more spacious.

Now I only wish we had the same luxuries on the 14-hour flight across the Pacific, instead of this short two-hour flight.

First Day in HK

Me eating clam Chowder at the SFO airport

I woke up refreshed, having slept the whole night (or day) through, having taken a melatonin pill my dad gave me before I went to sleep.

We got dressed, and I looked out the window.  There was a great view of Kowloon, and we could see Hong Kong Island and the Peak in the distance.  We headed out to find breakfast.  I was starving.

Our hotel was basically built on top of a shopping mall.  In Hong Kong, everything is a shopping mall.  So that’s no big deal, I learned.  We walked through the mall, and there was a McDonald’s.  My dad and I both had egg McMuffins.  McDonald’s is always a good place to eat breakfast, at least at first, when traveling.

Then after our breakfast, we took a long walk.  Lots of shops everywhere.  All buildings are at least about 10 stories tall, and many are much taller.  We saw people playing Chinese chess under a stairway.  We saw a juice vendor making juice with only a juicer and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  The streets are crowded, and everyone seems to be doing something or going somewhere.  We saw a small garbage collection center where they were compacting the trash.  And then we saw a much larger collection center were the compacted trash is collected and taking to the dump.

We saw a temple that was absolutely filled with incense.  It’s a traditional Chinese temple.  We saw a very old wholesale fruit market.  We walked all the way down from Mongkok, where our hotel is, to the harbor in Tsim Sha Tsui.  We looked across the harbor and saw Hong Kong island.  Every where you look there is a skyscraper.

Then we took the Star Ferry across the harbor.  It was a fun experience, and the breeze felt very good.  We walked around a little bit, and dad got a coffee.  Then we took the subway (called the MTR) back to Mongkok to our hotel.  We packed up and checked out.

Then we went back into the streets of Mongkok to look for something to eat for lunch.  We found a noodle shop and ordered wonton noodles.  Very good Chinese food.  Then we rushed back to the hotel and caught a shuttle bus to the Kowloon Station to take a train back to the airport.

Next stop, Shanghai.

Our Arrival in Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong, and I was feeling pretty bad.  The last six hours of the plane ride were uncomfortable and terribly boring.  Fortunately, I slept through most of that time, but I kept waking up.

We went through immigration and customs, and then walked out to see the Hui family:  Saiyu, Dora, Theo, Kyle, and Niel greeted us and welcomed us.  We got in their car and headed off to dinner.  Now you have to understand that for us, it was four o’clock in the morning.  At that time, I had a headache and felt like I was going to throw up.

As we arrived at the restaurant, I jumped out of the car and puked in the grass.  There wasn’t anything in my stomach, but I couldn’t get my stomach to relax.  We went to the Park ‘N Shop, a supermarket, and got some water.

Then at the restaurant, I couldn’t eat anything as I had no appetite.  All the smells in the restaurant kept making me gag, even though I thought the food looked good.  I ended up having to go into the bathroom to throw up again. I tried some fresh pear juice, which tasted pretty good.  But I couldn’t keep that down, either.

I was happy when finally the meal was over and we headed to the hotel.  When we got to our room, I brushed my teeth, got in bed, and fell asleep immediately.

14 Hour Flight

I am now on the plane heading to Hong Kong.  We have been on for 4 ½ hours. We are not even halfway there. Everything is going fine and pretty boring. We are in the two middle seats. There are nine rows going down in the economy section. It goes 3,4,3. Since we got into Economy Plus, we get just a little extra legroom. Ahead of us and upstairs is business class. In the very front of the plane is first class, which we “accidentally” went in the wrong door when boarding to take a look at.  There are really wide seats that can recline into a bed, with foot rests, cup holders, and fancy schmancy stuff.

In our cabin for dinner they served, we were offered pasta or chicken with gravy.  I chose the pasta, it was good, but overcooked.  A movie is about to come on.  I’m going to watch it.