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Trip Report Diary of a Cranky Traveler, Part 2: Hong Kong

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Continuing from Hong Kong. (The earlier installment of this drivel, which carps about Japan and a little bit of Hong Kong, is at http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/diary-of-a-cranky-traveler-rizzuto-seeks-food-clothing-and-light.cfm).

If you have never been to Asia, there's just no way to be ready for what you're stepping into.My first trip to Hong Kong, or Asia for that matter, was in 1990. My Former Beloved and I flew first to Hong Kong, then on to Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok. Information was mainly from guidebooks, maybe a speck or two from rec.travel, and from reading Noble House. It seemed like Hong Kong would be magical, and it lived up to its promise.

Hong Kong looks different now: the skyscrapers of 1990 have been dwarfed by new ones, complexes of a dozen 40-story apartment buildings have sprouted up all over, the airport is modern and efficient instead of cramped and lots of fun, and the ubiquitous cigarette smoke has been replaced by ubiquitous haze. But all of that is superficial, and, at its core, Hong Kong is still as special a place as you can ever hope to visit. The special part of the city isn't what you see in your first day or two along the main shopping streets in TST and Central. Instead, the allure is when you turn down the little alley that couldn't possibly go anywhere, the alley that's not on the tourist map, the alley that's filled with dark corners and amazing sights and smells. Where you're perfectly safe, yet you know that a dozen unseen eyes are watching your every move. This is the Hong Kong where you want to wander, where you want to stop for a bowl of noodles or some dim sum. This is what you'll remember forever.

So I had a good day today, as you might have figured out. A fitting at LeeBaron, then stopped at my old fried Raymond at Tai Kwong Optical (28 Mody Road) to get a new pair of progressive lens glasses, then wandered the back streets of TST and TST East. Stopped to pick up some take-away dim sum at a tiny shop -- shrimp dumplings were exceptional, char sui bao was ok, and steamed beef was pretty good. Looking forward to a restorative nap.

I did bring my camcorder along (mostly for the lights festival in Lyon), and I took a little video The View from the Promenade. The thing about the harbour view is that it's not just a view: it's a city that constantly in motion. I can't do any video editing on this notebook I'm using, and the handheld camcorder gets a bit shaky, but here's the link:

http://vimeo.com/17459078

(Hint: the video can be very slow if you try to stream it. Seems to work better if you open the link, then pause the video and let it download for a few minutes before you play it.)

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