Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Farewell China Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Saturday, 11 September 2010 9:23pm

It's funny, even though I've made 18 border crossings already in this trip (UK, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, China), I still don't sleep well knowing that I'll be crossing another in the morning. And this border isn't even really a national border anymore. But I did get an exit stamp for China and an entry stamp for Hong Kong, so it feels like it counts.

Security is starting to tighten up again. I had to give up my scissors and drink down my last Chinese bottle of Aloe drink before they'd let me into the boarding area. I regret the loss of the scissors, but they were definitely not worth checking a bag, and they'd passed fine through the ubiquitous subway X-ray machines in Beijing and Shanghai and the airport X-ray in Qingdao, so I thought I'd see if they'd get through. Nope. (I left my knife—the one that Russian airport security said was too small to be concerned with—at the hotel desk in Beijing because China Post wouldn't even let me mail it back home and I wasn't going to try to carry it on the subway to the train station).

Apart from security and a 1.5 hour flight delay, the day went smoothly. Getting stuff done in Hong Kong is easy after China. I can just ask for what I want and people understand me. I chatted with the Tourism Bureau representative about the various ways of getting to my hotel, got a multi-use subway card (The subway systems in China use proximity cards like the Oyster system in London or Clipper/TransLink in the SF Bay Area. Unfortunately, the vending machines in the stations don't seem to sell anything other than single-use cards that you turn in at the end of the ride, so you can't just put a bunch of money on once and then use it until it's gone, you have to visit the machines on every trip. The system has multi-use stored-value cards, but I couldn't find anyone who'd actually sell me one, and didn't know how to ask where to go. In HK, the first person I asked sold me a card that's not only multi-use, but includes two airport transfers and unlimited use for 72 hours!), and a SIM card with a data plan for my phone.

The hardest part of getting to my hotel was actually getting out of the mall that the subway exits into.

Hong Kong already feels very different. Beijing had tons of fake designer-name t-shirts (Cavlen Keiln). Shanghai had cute animal t-shirts with semi-sensical English phrases. Hong Kong has t-shirts praising Helvetica. Okay maybe there are only two and I saw both of them this evening, but what are the odds?

Also, people don't cross against the light here. In Beijing and Shanghai, they'd cross against oncoming traffic if they thought they could make it (or even if they knew they couldn't, but knew that the traffic wasn't going to quickly to stop). Here they'll wait at a red crosswalk signal even if the street is empty of traffic!