Jackie Chan is EVERYWHERE out here. He’s like Mr. Hong Kong. His face is plastered on what seems like two billboards per block, and I’ve even seen numerous statues and mannequins that look just like him.
It must be nice. Or weird. Who knows 😕
To me, just about the biggest difficulty involved with traveling is food.
In first world countries, if you don’t have a kitchen available it’s often a total budget-breaker or extremely slow and inconvenient. In third world countries, you often can’t read the menus or communicate and therefore have little or no idea what you’re gonna get. As a result, I frequently find myself going hungry….or relying on crappy little snacks here and there.
It’s probably not the best form of nutrition when I’m expending so much energy day in and day out.
Something interesting about the food in Hong Kong supermarkets: since every single product is imported from somewhere, you find that 99% of the pricetags state not just the product name and cost, but also the country of origin. And I’m not just talking about things like fruits and meats – I mean virtually everything. Campbell’s Soup – USA; Skim Milk – Australia; Beer – Finland; Osenbei – Japan; Blueberries – Chile. It’s crazy.
Hong Kong’s mass transit system uses something called an Octopus Card. It’s basically a prepaid card that you fill up with cash and stick in your wallet – and when it’s time to ride the MTR or public bus, you just wave your wallet over an electronic reader and it deducts the correct amount (displaying the amount and your new total on a little screen). It’s incredibly convenient.
Many cities (*ahem*…cities that actually have mass transit, that is) have systems like this in place. What really struck me about the Octopus card is how it’s accepted almost everywhere. It virtually eliminates the need to bother carrying cash (virtually; not completely). You can use it for admission to tourist attractions, when buying a beer at the convenience store, or picking up a watermelon at the supermarket. Just wave your wallet over the reader and you’re good to go.
I mentioned before how some areas of Hong Kong could easily be described as the “epitome of opulence.” Although this is true for those areas, I think I’ve come up with a better, more all-encompassing description: Consumer’s Paradise.
No matter what you’re looking to buy, Hong Kong has got it. Spend five minutes in in the city and all five of your senses will almost almost certainly have already been saturated by advertising from every which way. The city is literally built around consumerism.
I don’t think I’ve been inside so many shopping malls in my entire life – yet, I’ve only actually intentionally entered one. You just can’t avoid it. No matter where you’re trying to go, from the train station to the other side of the road, you get funneled through…and find yourself unable to get out.
In most cases, this is excruciatingly annoying. Except in one single instance.
Hey, I’m a nerd, remember? 😉
Although many countries’ cost of living is far lower than in the US, one thing that’s almost universally expensive is electronics – due to hefty luxury and/or import taxes. Remember when I was trying to replace my low-tech digital camera in Brazil? Or to get it fixed in Cairo? Those types of situations aren’t at all uncommon – and as a result, I almost always find myself waiting for a trip home to upgrade.
But here, parts are even cheaper than in the states – which is pretty tough to do.
And they have everything!
No matter how rare a part I’m looking for – and believe me, I have some pretty uncommon and specific stuff on my list – I’ve found it within minutes of beginning my search. From microscopic WiFi hubs to custom high-ampage batteries for cellphones to barely-released solid-state memory devices; it’s all here, and it’s all plentiful.