As always, you never know what you’re going to get when you do an Oracle University class. Originally the Hong Kong class was cancelled, then got rescheduled at the last minute. I was expecting a very small class, but as it turned out I had 19 people, so it was the biggest class I did on this trip.
The room was a little on the small side and a bit warm in the morning of the first day, but we managed to get through OK.
Doing the same course 4 times in such quick succession was a little odd. On a couple of occasions I caught myself thinking, “I’m sure I’ve already said this before”.
The first leg of the flight back home was “interesting”. There was an old guy on my row who cycled between snorting half his brain down into the back of his throat, then coughing up his lungs up into the back of his throat, followed by a good chew and swallow. It was less than a pleasant experience. Added to that, there was a small kid who was intermittently making a noise which kept waking me up. I kinda forgive kids on planes because it’s not a natural environment for them, but this kid had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, twice. When they don’t look cute I’m much less sympathetic.
The second leg of the trip seemed a lot quicker because I was chatting to an Aussie lady about life, the universe and everything. Seven hours flew by.
So now I’m home and trying to deal with the washing, backlog of mail and yet another time zone. I think it’s two weeks until the next trip, assuming there are no cancellations.
In the morning I got a taxi over to my mate Alan’s house and the pair of us, along with his 16 year old step son Kevin, drove up the nearest hill (Victoria Peak) to have a look down over the city. The Hong Kong approach to tourist attractions seems to be, if you think tourists might come to see something, build a shopping mall next to it. I’ve added some more photos to yesterdays. The pollution in Hong Kong is pretty bad, so you will notice that anything in the distance is concealed by a haze. When you are looking at it you still get a lot of detail, but when you photograph it all you can see is the haze.
From there we drove down to the beach. It seems that if public transport can get you to a beach, it is heaving with people (and there will be a shopping mall there). If you need a car it is much quieter. I’m not a beach person myself, but I do like being near the sea.
From there we went back to Alan’s house, where I bonded with his step sons (Adam 13 and Kevin 16) by helping them speed up their computer so their games could run faster. They were playing MMORPGs like Aeon, Warcraft and some Chinese-specific things. I couldn’t understand a word of anything on the screen, because it was all in Chinese, so Captain Support needed a little translation help from Kevin. I did a little tweaking, but most of the performance improvements came from explaining that having 50 programs on all at once, including streaming video and music kinda interferes with the performance of the game, especially one that has to connect to a server, like MMORPGs do. As soon as I closed down the Justin Bieber video playing in HD on YouTube things got a lot faster and sounded a lot better.
From there we went out to meet a couple of the guys Alan works with. Both were Ausies, but have been living on and off in Hong Kong for a long time. We had a couple of drinks, some food, then early to bed ready for my class today.
Regarding food, being vegetarian in Hong Kong is not a great idea. It’s often difficult to find vegetarian food because even things that look vegetarian have a little something-something thrown in for good measure. During the day Kevin was keeping me on track. In the evening Phil was helping me out. My mate Alan speaks conversational Cantonese, after 5 years in Hong Kong, but can’t help throwing in sentences like, “Did you know Eskimos like peanut butter?”, or, “A big monkey is a gorilla and a big gorilla is King Kong!”, in an attempt to amuse/confuse the waiters, so when he was in charge I was a little worried.
I did manage to sleep a little on the plane from Melbourne, but not much, so I arrived in Hong Kong at 07:00 feeling very tired. I got the airport shuttle bus to my hotel. It was HK$140, which is about £11 and I was the only person in the full size coach. I think they may have made a loss on petrol for that journey. The journey from the airport to the city is very strange. Most of the Hong Kong is forest, but then you will have 3-5 enormous skyscrapers more or less springing out of the forrest at intervals. It looks really odd.
Arriving at a hotel that early is often problematic because the guests from the previous night haven’t checked out yet. I got lucky in Melbourne and they had a room for me. In HK they didn’t. I checking in my bags and decided to have a look round. After about 30 minutes (including some moments of feeling very lost) I decided I was just too tired to attempt to navigate Hong Kong, so I went back to the hotel and parked on a chair in the reception. After a couple of hours of nodding off and generally making the place look untidy a room became available and I went straight up hoping to sleep. By the time I had scrubbed the stench of a 9 hour plane ride off myself, I only had about 1 hour to rest before meeting up with one of my friends.
A mate of mine from university moved to Hong Kong about 5 years ago (after a year in Sydney). We had met up a couple of time since he left, but I guess we had not crossed paths for about 3 years. He dropped by the hotel and whisked me off into the city to show me some of the sights (and give me lots of money, because my cards seem to be blocked again. ).
From the perspective of an adopted Brummie, this city is very intimidating. I mentioned in a previous post that Singapore is full of really tall buildings, but there is a feel of open space between them. The buildings in Hong Kong are truly massive and very tightly packed. In Hong Kong a bungalow is 10 stories. What’s more, many of the skyscrapers seem really thin, making them look rather fragile. We started off by dropping in at his office so I could get an aerial view of some of the city. We were only part way up the building he works in and it made me feel a bit sick.
From there is was back down to the street and a trip over to Mong Kok, which I believe is still listed as the most densely populated place in the world. Something like 130,000 people per square kilometre. Alan seemed to think it was a little quiet compared to usual, but it seemed very busy to me. I took a few photos (here), but to be honest all the streets were so tightly packed I quickly realised that taking photos was a bit pointless because it all started to look the same and it also meant I was interrupting the flow of the people, which was not a great idea with 130,000 per square km.
So my impression from day 1 is Hong Kong = Blade Runner.
The plan today is to get out of the city and have a drive around. Hopefully I’ll get some more photos today.
I managed to swap the Melbourne to Birmingham flights, so the Hong Kong date (October 25th-26th) is back again. If you are interested in coming, the contact details are listed here. The date hasn’t made it back onto the website yet, but it is definitely going to happen.
The final trip schedule is pretty scary.
I feel a bit sick at the thought of all that time on planes and all the timezone switches. The last time I did a trip this complicated I was away from home for 2 months. This time it’s compacted into 16 days, so if you see a fat zombie, point him to the projector and tell him to start speaking. Once the mouth starts, the rest will take care of itself.
Two days after getting the final confirmation for the Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne dates and the cancellation of the Hong Kong date things have changed a little… Maybe…
I’ve been asked to try and reschedule the Hong Kong date (October 25th-26th). I’m in the process of trying to check the implications of the flight changes now. If it were a Eurpoean date it would be a no-brainer, but since it’s the other side of the world it has to be combined with the existing trip or there is simply not enough time to get home and fly back out again.
I’m hoping to know by tomorrow if the date can be rescheduled. Watch this space.