Penniless in a Hong Kong Typhoon

I arrived in Hong Kong to notification from American Express that there had been fraud on my account (unsurprisingly as a result of my recent El Salvador trip) and they had helpfully cancelled my card. This was irritating, but in typical AMEX-efficient fashion they promised to have me a new card within days, and I could survive until then on my debit card. SunTrust cancelled the debit card the next day. Since I only travel internationally every single month, SunTrust decided my Hong Kong usage must be fraud and blocked my card. The mindless twits at SunTrust didn’t trouble themselves to notify me of this, or even to ... [Read More]

Hong Kong: The Haze, the Haggling and the Hutong

    Hong Kong’s air generally has more in common with something you’d expect to be used on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay than anything you’d actually want in your lungs. Seriously – visibility in Hong Kong most of the year is about 5 miles. So I was more than a little startled, and thrilled (once I’d assured myself the pilot hadn’t touched down in the wrong place), when we arrived to crystal clear air, with nary a hint of haze or pollution. In nearly three decades of visiting this great city I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so clear. This is a fact about which I apparently found ... [Read More]

Talking about Hong Kong

  One of my best friends, Navini, lived in Hong Kong for about 10 years, about 10 years ago. When she heard I'd be paying a visit the city she so loved, she excitedly talked to me about it for what seemed like another 10 years. My husband, Adam, having visited Hong Kong on many occasions himself, and never one to be short of words, rambled on enough about it to fill another ten. (Put the two of them nattering away in a room together and there's very little oxygen left for the rest of us.) So, once my ears stopped bleeding, I arrived in the former British colony ... [Read More]

The Top of the Peak

Riding the historic Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak is one of my favorite things to do in Hong Kong. First built in the 1880s, this rickety rail-car is pulled by cables up the steep incline from Hong Kong’s Central District to Victoria Peak, from which you gaze out over stunning panoramic views of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon. I’ve been more than a dozen times, and never tire of the experience. One of my very favorite restaurants on earth, by happy coincidence, is Café Deco, perched atop Victoria Peak. The food has always been scrumptious, and I was eager to show off ... [Read More]

Moron moments in Hong Kong

Sometime after landing in Hong Kong yesterday I devolved into a blithering idiot. (Some who know me might suggest this isn’t much of a change from my normal state of being, but I prefer to believe I can generally be trusted to tie my shoes and cross the street without much supervision.) I’m not sure when this change occurred, but it first reared its clumsy head in the Sky Lounge atop the Sheraton Towers. Soo and I were sitting at a table by the glass marveling at the stunning view of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor at night, when I noticed a man a short distance away ... [Read More]

Denied Credit Cards, Street Food and – Bedazzled Scooters?

March 8th, 2010 Greetings everyone! I hope you’re all doing well.  Sadly, this blog isn’t quite as exciting as last week's – does anything really compare to practically free spas and vending machine chicken feet though?  But never fear!  There were still plenty of interesting happenings to share. I'll start with the mold in Hong Kong.  Yes, that’s right: mold.  Never read about that in your Frommer’s or Lonely Planet guide book?  Then you’re not truly reading from someone who lived in Southeast Asia for an extended period of time. Since Hong Kong was probably the wettest/dampest place on Earth next to the Amazon Rainforest, it made sense that ... [Read More]

Good-bye Emory, Hello Asia!

January 29th, 2010 Some people travel several hundred miles away from home to college.  I ran several thousand miles away, to Asia! Where best to begin?  At the beginning of course – from the second I stepped on my first flight, things got interesting. After a very long delay in Chicago due to plane trouble (a 27-hour overnight stay apparently still qualifes as a "delay" in American Airlines’ mind), I arrived in Hong Kong at midnight, and ran immediately into some serious initial culture shock.  It hit me that I was in a totally foreign country when I discovered that no cab drivers spoke even the most broken English, and ... [Read More]