Hong Kong

Streets of Sheung Wan
We had accommodation booked for the first few nights in Sheung Wan, in the north west corner of Hong Kong island. After visiting Kowlooon where the cheaper hotels are, we decided to stay in that part of the island, which has a more traditional Chinese feel. I can highly recommend Traders Hotel (formerly Hotel Jen, on TripAdvisor); the staff were very accommodating and pleasant, the reasonable tariffs and the rooftop swimming pool and gym were a treat. The trams and buses were easy to navigate to get to the rest of the city, but you get a sense of what everyday life is like. We went to the hot pot (‘shabu-shabu’) restauruant across the road on our last night, and ate our body weight in seafood: great fun.

Solar Star
It’s difficult not to draw comparisons with Sydney when visiting a place like Hong Kong; both are spectacular harbour cities (HK is more picturesque at night, Sydney during the day) with a very high standard of living. But one is famous for world-class public transport, the other infamous for years of bungled infrastructure planning. ICT infrastructure is also lagging in Australia: although plans for a Government sponsored broadband network are underway, even in the central CBD the free wi-fi coverage is patchy; in HK it’s very good. Both cities are struggling at the moment with housing affordability, have a real epicurean bent, and are A-list haunts. Hong Kong gives the sense of having been extremely well managed for many years (although some might say the authorities are too proscriptive) while Sydney, for all it’s natural advantages, struggles to shine. One last example: getting off the plane at Hong Kong airport, getting to our hotel (around midnight) was simple and inexpensive. Arriving back in Sydney, it took over 90 minutes to get into a cab to take us all the way home.

220 Dollars
Hong Kong’s reputation as a shoppers’ paradise appears to be unwarranted nowadays. Locals tend to visit Shenzhen across the border in mainland China for their discounted goods. Comparing prices of photographic goods, off the shelf prices are cheaper in Sydney. There was some fun clothes shopping to be had in Mongkok, but a little internet research suggested that finding a decent tailor could be an onerous task. No complaints of course: the less spent at the counter, the more to fritter away at the track and at table (gambling and culinary).

I had an interesting experience with Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit. M-C has an iPad, and I had hoped to make use of it to back up photos throughout the trip. So I bought a CCK on our second day, having read a review that it could read RAW files from the Canon 5D Mark I. It can’t, and Apple’s tech specs give little indication of what it can do. What you can and can’t do with the device is tied up with Apple’s struggle with DRM and (it seems to me) artificially limiting what you can do with the iPad to increase sales. The Kit also comes with an SD card reader (the Mk I is Compact Flash), so M-C could load up her photos well enough. I ended up taking 490 photos, but was curating all the time; an 8Gb was enough.

You can view the Hong Kong set of photos on Flickr.

Posted on October 24, 2010

Leave a Reply