As I think I mentioned previously, the purpose of this trip is to help Sun, our colleague in China, do some promotional work to bolster his credibility here. He believes that having me in China to do some presentations and meet people will help. He even got most if not all of my expenses covered by several organizations in China, including Ozark, a popular gear manufacturer. I will not be beholden in any promotional way (no advertisements )other than to give the talks. So why not? I get to make my first trip to China. I hope I am as valuable as he seems to think I will be.
Aside from the duration of the combined flights, there was nothing particularly epic about them. We boarded in Portland, were treated notably better by the Japanese flight attendants than their US counterparts and ended up in Honk Kong with Sun waiting for us. We spent our first night in a room that was quite literally not much bigger than the foot print of the bed. The bed was tucked in against a wall on three sides with perhaps a 3 foot strip along the fourth. There was a small but perfectly adequate bathroom. We slept well or as well as one can after nearly 24 hours of travel across 12 time zones.
It turns out that the room was a metaphor for Hong Kong. Everything is tightly packed but clean, functional and interesting. After too much really good dim sum (a pattern that repeats itself) we went down to the Victoria Harbor and crossed from Kow Loon to Hong Kong Island and the financial district on a very old ferry. This is what I expected to see when we got here. Namely, many modern buildings housing the Asian headquarters for some of the world’s largest and most prosperous corporations, shoehorned onto narrow and congested streets. Much of the limited flatland bordering the waterfront has been reclaimed from the harbor. If these reclamation projects hadn’t been halted, one could image a land bridge connecting Kow Loon to the Island. They are currently tunneling into this area, parallel to the shore, like contour lines on a map. Some of the roads will be rerouted underground, replaced by walkways. It could be a big improvement. Although I found walking about enjoyable, I must admit the rush hour experience would be much more pleasant if the cars disappeared into tunnels.
Beyond these few blocks of flat streets, the city rises quickly up a very steep slope that leads to a wonderful view of the city, Victoria Harbor, the S China Sea and the surrounding subtropical vegetation. We took a bus to the top and then a tram back down. These people are masters of building on slopes. I have not often seen such large buildings so perilously perched. They have also gone to notable lengths to shore the slopes up. Sections are labeled with a code to make monitoring their condition easier. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time in the city to investigate what appeared to be a large network of steep and serpentine walkways up between and past some older colonial-period buildings and gardens.
We spend the day with Lester, an educator who teaches at a medical training center for paramedics, doctors, nurses and the lay public. The center was pretty impressive, well supplied to teach a pretty wide range of courses. As a resident of Hong Kong, he turned out to a good guide and great company.
Off to Shenzhen.