Happy New Year!!!
Man, I can’t believe 2009 is already here. It feels like only yesterday I was celebrating 2008 with my high school buddies in Hollywood, California.
But then, it certainly has been a tremendous year – without a doubt my busiest ever. The last twelve months have taken me to four continents and ten countries. I’ve danced away the night for Brazilian Carnaval, stood at the holiest spots for three of the world’s biggest religions, and snapped a photo at the heart of the only standing Wonder of the Ancient World. I’ve spent nights in filthy hole-in-the-wall backpacker lodges, luxurious five-star suites, small Japanese apartments, planes, trains, boats, and even my old childhood bedroom.
And the adventure hasn’t ended yet.
Less than a week before New Year’s Eve, I received a Facebook message from Fran – a Spanish friend in Kyoto. Knowing that I’ve been traveling around Asia, he wanted to ask if I happened to be passing through Korea for the New Year – as he and a friend were considering a visit.
“No, I’m in Hong Kong,” I told him.
“Hong Kong??! It’s been my lifelong dream to spend New Year in Hong Kong! If I hopped on a plane tomorrow, would you be free to celebrate together??”
Sounds like a plan 😀
Originally I’d intended to watch the countdown from Times Square in Causeway Bay – an area that at times can feel just as big, loud, and busy as Shinjuku, Tokyo – but Fran said “no way.” The only option for New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong is to watch the fireworks over Victoria’s Harbor.
So at the last possible minute, we managed to secure tickets for a harbor cruise – and after SPRINTING back to Joe’s apartment to pick up my D40 we were off.
The display was magnificent. BUT, in all honesty, I sort of wish we’d foregone the boat ride – comprised mostly of retirees in Santa hats singing goofy Karaoke – and watched the fireworks amongst the crowds, from Harbor City in Kowloon.
Oh well. As you might expect, we more than made up for it during the ensuing evening in Lan Kwai Fong party district 😀
I said it before, I’ll say it again: I’m so glad that fate just happened to bring me to this part of the world for the holiday season!
morning afternoon of January 1st, I didn’t particularly feel like doing anything productive – but since I was planning to leave Hong Kong in the near future, figured I should force myself out of bed and see one other part of the island I’d yet to visit: the South side. So after struggling to locate the correct minibus for over an hour, I made my way to Stanley.
Man, was it ever different from Kowloon, the New Territories, and the city itself. For such a small area Hong Kong really does have a fair bit of diversity.
Stanley’s beachfront promenade reminded me in many ways of Santa Monica, or the nicer areas of the Venice Beach Boardwalk: lined with street cafes and ice cream stands, skirting the edge of the sand, and populated by wealthy yuppies out to enjoy their day off.
I also stopped by nearby Stanley Market, which although touristy made for a nice afternoon walk. It’s quite funny how anywhere in the world you go, when you get to a touristy market – from the trinket shops near the pyramids of Egypt to the night markets in South Korea – you see countless signs written in Japanese. Those folks sure do love their shopping…and their touristy shopping at that! 😆
On the way back from Stanley I stopped by to watch the sunset from a small waterfront shrine in Repulse Bay – which had quite an amazing collection of colorful statues, very different in style from almost anything I’d seen in Asia.
The directory where I store the photos used in these posts has grown unmanageably massive, so as of 2009 I’ve changed the structure a little bit. Should you happen to notice any dead images or links, please let me know.