Enjoying Hong Kong

The paintings below are a creative interpretation of the crowded apartment living in Hong Kong:The photos below are of creative sweet Desserts in the shape of a Ramen bowl, a fish pond and Kimchi pickles:

Enjoying Hong Kong

It was a strange sight indeed.
Right outside of the huge steel and glass Apple Computer store in Kowloon, Hong Kong, we saw dozens of hawkers selling shrink-wrapped boxes with the new iPhone X for MORE money than it sells for inside the Apple store.

We did not want to buy the new iPhone X, but we were puzzled about why anyone in his right mind would buy the new iPhone from a kid with a suitcase on the pavement, when the Apple store was right there, and to add insult to injury, to pay MORE money for it from the hawkers with the open suitcases or coolers.

We decided to ask the hawkers with the suitcases.
A young woman with a boxed phone in each hand, told us that her iPhone X’s are indeed originals, not fakes.

She said that they charge about $65 MORE than the Apple store, because in order to get the new iPhone X at the Apple store, you needed to get to the store early in the morning, stand in a long line and make a reservation for the phone.
You will get it when the stock becomes available, which could be between a week to a month.

The sales person inside the Apple store confirmed that this is true.
And then he said that he could not guarantee that all the iPhones that the hawkers outside sell, are genuine.

“Maybe some of them are originals, maybe some are not, who can tell…”
He said with a smile and then added, “The people who sell the iPhones, and almost all of the people who buy them, are from Mainland China.
They come to Hong Kong for only a few days, and they cannot wait for our stock to arrive, so they buy them outside on the curb.”

When Jules spoke with the concierge in our hotel, she told him that many people from Mainland China come to Hong Kong to buy goods, but mostly they come to buy gold.

Along Nathan Road, the main shopping thoroughfare of Kowloon, there are many, many Rolex watch and jewelry shops.
They sell mainly big, gaudy gold jewelry.

Most of the buyers come from Mainland China and the jewelry is not bought for its unique design, but by the weight in grams of its gold.

We did not want to buy gold, we were just curious, so we stopped and asked at a big gold jewelry shop.

The thick bracelets contained around 49 grams of 24 karat gold.
According to today’s gold price, this was about $22,000 Hong Kong dollars, or roughly $3000 USD.

The people from Mainland China have different motives to buy gold.
Some are laundering their undeclared money, while for others, gold is the only way to invest their money in something that holds its value and that they can understand.

Still other Mainland Chinese face the problem of how to take their money out of China and gold, worn as jewelry, is one way.

It is easy to make money in China nowadays.
People have disposable income and if you have a product or a concept that people need or want and that works, it is easy to become wealthy.

The problem is investing, preserving and growing your money inside China or getting it out of the country.
And so these are some of the ways some people choose to circumvent the restrictions.

Hong Kong is an island of contrasts.
On the island of Hong Kong Central, you will see lavish opulence, commercial buildings with futuristic architecture and many high end shopping malls and global brand names.

On the Kowloon side, just north and across the bay from Hong Kong Central, you will see many more shabby residential high rise buildings, busy markets, small eateries and many kinds of malls, from simple neighborhood malls to fancy high end malls.

We divided our stay in Hong Kong into two parts.
For the first few days, we stayed on the island of Hong Kong Central, and then we moved to the Kowloon area to get a different taste of the place.

Walking the busy streets of Kowloon, you will be approached a dozen times by people selling copies of designer bags, fake Rolex watches, offers to tailor a suit for you or sell you something.

People will hand you dozens of brochures and pamphlets, discount coupons for restaurants, massages, foot reflexology and brochures explaining why the Falun Gong is an evil cult run by a power hungry self proclaimed master who manipulates his followers into self mutilation.

On another street there are the Falun Gong followers, practicing Chigong and claiming to be unjustly persecuted by the Chinese government.
In the streets of the more open minded Hong Kong, the Falun Gong is not banned from practicing.

The pulse of the city is rhythmic, efficient and fast.
Huge and frequent double decker buses take you to remote parts of the city in clean, air-conditioned comfort.
The subway is also efficient and the trains run across the harbor between Hong Kong and Kowloon through an underground tunnel.

There are so many markets in Hong Kong.
The Gooseneck market is bustling with shops and eateries selling golden roasted ducks and long necked geese.

As you walk through the flower market, you are intoxicated by the wonderful perfume of the flowers.
They have miniature versions of all the flowers and stunning orchids.

At the bird market, you see colorful birds for sale.
There are clear plastic bags full of live worms or grasshoppers to feed your bird.
Vendors sell hand crafted wooden bird cages and the whole market sounds like the Amazon river, teeming with bird songs.

At the Ladies Market there are many stalls selling cheap clothing, phone covers, knickknacks, bags, and many family-run Middle Eastern eateries.

There are markets of dry foods and Chinese herbal medicines, selling mixtures of herbs, tree barks and roots, tree berries, red dates, snake skins or hearts, shark fins and dried seafood.

The fresh food markets and night markets are crowded with food stalls.
The night markets are not as wonderful as the ones in Taipei and in Seoul, but they are colorful and interesting.

If you ask me why we flew to Hong Kong, I will say I came here to eat.

Yes, there is good food everywhere, but in Hong Kong the quality of the food is elevated.
Be it Chinese or Middle Eastern, Moroccan or Indian, Organic Vegetarian or Yum Cha dim sum, chances are that if you look for it, you will find fabulous food in Hong Kong.

We ate not only Yum Cha and Dim Sum, we also had a very tasty South Indian Dosa and other delicious Indian food in a vegetarian restaurant called Saravana Bhavan in Kowloon.

We had flower flavored ice cream served in the shape of a rose flower in a cone in Central Hong Kong.

Many restaurants in Hong Kong are not on the street or on the ground level, but are located on different floors of shoddy buildings that look like they were once housing old factories.

In one such shabby building we had very good Moroccan food.

We had fabulous raw vegan cakes in the most unlikely place.
It was a tiny stall on the second floor of a dirty and rundown municipal market building.
Most of the stalls were closed due to hygiene problems, and a plastic banner from the city health department stretched across these stalls.

The vegan stall was so tiny, it only had room for a fridge and a tea kettle.
The friendly owner told us that she became a vegan three years ago after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

She said that she had cured herself with wholesome food, and opened this tiny stall to share her revelations with others.

She told us that she only has a few raw cakes in the fridge and if we wanted to eat, she could make us a veggie burger, but we had to order it a day ahead.

I didn’t really want a dessert, but she was such a darling and so earnest and sincere, that we had to sit down.

Her tiny slices of raw cakes were sweetened with natural coconut, and they were very good.
They came with tiny cups of herbal tea.
She opened a tiny folding table and two chairs outside of her little nook and we sat down for our afternoon tea between the neighboring stalls and a storage area, filled with huge sacks of rice and dry Pu’er tea.

This is our second time in Hong Kong and I was surprised to see how much I still remembered from our first visit.
Some things have stayed exactly the same, like the flower market and the bird market, while the southern part of Kowloon, with its “Walk of Fame” and art museum, is now a major construction zone and closed to the public until sometime in 2018.

Despite the crowds and the noise, I love walking the streets for many hours and feel inspired by the Spirit of the place and of its people.

I get lots of inspiration from Nature, but I also LOVE people and enjoy observing their gentleness, their talents, their creativity, their devotion, hard work and daring and industrious vision.

When I am home, I listen to the bamboo, to the birds, to the waves of the sea and to and the mountains.

When I am walking the busy streets of a big city, I look up at huge and beautiful architecture and I soak in the grand spirit that inspired those who were involved in creating them.

It takes great talent and guts to take such risks, employ so many people, raise so much money and create such mammoth sized structures.

In the world we seem to live in, I see so many people who scrape or scam just to get by, so it is a nice contrast to see the Spirit of those who are unafraid and are willing to take chances.

We looked for the new contemporary art scene in Hong Kong.
There is a converted slaughter house which is now an art center, and another art center in the north part of Kowloon, in a large multi level building that once housed factories.
It is called the Jockey Club Contemporary Art Center (JCCAC) in the neighborhood of Shek Kip Mei.

The nine floor building is now divided into many small studios with a small performing arts and music venue.

It is mostly active on the weekends and remains partly closed during weekdays.
We came on a weekday, but still had a great time seeing creative ceramics, sculptures, miniatures, photography, weaving and a puppet maker.

On the lower level we sat in a traditional tea house with many wonderful tea choices.

On another day, we took a long walk along the river in northern Kowloon, and visited some beautiful Taoist temples, an old village and the heritage museum.

In the heritage museum we saw a wonderful exhibition of animation from Pixar, and a whole floor dedicated to the life of Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee.

On another day, we visited two Chinese Taoist temples, Sik Sik Yuen Wong and Wan Tai Sin.
They had larger than life size bronze Chinese Zodiac Animals looking like half men half animals on two legs.
In the “Wishing Garden” we prayed and made our wishes.

The pagodas and temple buildings were beautiful, with their tiled curved roofs and colorful multi layered wooden beams.

On our walk back to the center of the city, we entered the walled garden of Kowloon.
It used to be a huge slum, filled with crowded multi level buildings that were built with no foundations at all.
For support, one building simply leaned on its neighbors.
If one collapsed, all the rest fell like dominos.

A big urban project begun in 1992 demolished those slums and created an amazing classical Chinese garden.
There were hills, large varieties of trees and bamboo, circular entryways and covered walkways.
You could not hear the city around it, only the sounds of water in the brooks and the songs of the birds.

The people we met were extremely friendly and talkative.
They gave us recommendations of places to see, where to dine and what not to miss.

Tomorrow we take the ferry to the nearby Portuguese enclave of Macau.

Wishing you a world of blessings,
Tali

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s