01.23.2012 - 01.24.2012 45 °F
Before I talk about the end of my trip in HK, let me take a moment to introduce you to my cats: Huai Bao （坏包）and Bao Bao （宝宝）。 I've had Huai Bao just over a year and Bao Bao about seven months. By the way, Huai Bao means "Rascal" or "Little Devil" and Bao Bao means "Baby." When I got Bao Bao, he already had his name and I'd been going back and forth about Huai Bao's name for a while. Prior to becoming Huai Bao, I called him "Chip," "Mister Mister" and probably some other things I can't even remember now. So when Bao Bao came into our lives, I thought naming the older cat "Huai Bao" gave it a nice symmetry and made it seem like they're really brothers. Also, one of the reasons I got Huai Bao a brother is because he would usually wake me every morning by biting and scratching me. Therefore, "Little Devil" seemed to be a fitting name for him.
Fortunately, having two cats has relaxed him somewhat and saved my skin (most days), unless they commence to chase each other around the apartment like they did this morning. I was lazing around and trying to sleep in a bit in my nice warm bed, but every minute or so, a cat would streak across my legs or feet (and once, even my head - I have the scratch on my forehead to prove it). When they get like this, I have no alternative but to get up. As much as they can aggravate me at times, I love them dearly! Check out just how cute they are:
Huai Bao and Bao Bao sleeping on the futon
They were sleeping, but you can see they've opened their eyes just a bit to see what I'm doing - I love how Bao Bao props his feet up on his brother and Huai Bao doesn't even seem to notice
Huai Bao in the bathroom sink (no, your eyes haven't lost the ability to see color - it's a black & white photo)
Bao Bao in the basin underneath the bathroom sink
If you're wondering why they're in the sink and basin, it's because they follow me from room to room in the apartment. If I'm in the bedroom, they're in the bedroom (unless I've locked them out - Bao Bao can open closed doors, he's that clever!); if I'm in the living room, they're in the living room; if I'm in the kitchen, they're in the kitchen; if I'm in the bathroom, they're in the bathroom. I have no more rooms in my apartment, but you get the idea. For people who think that all cats are anti-social, you haven't met mine yet. Although, I must admit that I think Bao Bao is actually part dog. You see, he likes to play fetch! Balling up a piece of paper is a surefire way to get Bao Bao to jump up and pay attention. If I throw it, he runs to catch it, then brings it back to me and drops it. He'll run after the ball for probably 30 minutes or so, then finally instead of dropping the ball, HE drops to let me know he's finished playing. I've never had another cat like him!
The reason I bring up my cats is twofold: one, they're my boys and I want to show you how cute they are. Two, I realized last night without a shadow of a doubt that they are Chinese cats. China just celebrated the Lunar New Year on Monday and today is Day 5 of the new year. That means today is the birthday of the "god of money." Therefore, Chinese people greet him with the sound of firecrackers. It was pretty intense late last night since so many people followed tradition to greet him. Even in a closed apartment, you could smell the saltpeter (gun powder) that reminds me of the air outside after my dad goes target shooting. And the racket was much louder than you might imagine. Fireworks shows in the US tend to be spaced out a bit, but here, they sounds just don't stop for several minutes. So how did my cats react? They'd wake up occasionally, but then go right back to sleep - they're definitely Chinese. What's funny is that if someone knocks on the door, they'll growl quietly, then run and hide under the couch. Based on their reaction last night, I hope that means they were as unaffected by the sounds on new year's eve, since I was in HK and wasn't there to comfort them.
Now, back to HK. On the 23rd, the first day of the year, my friends and I went to "Central" on HK Island to the Apple store there. One of my plans while in HK was to buy a new iPhone 4S, but that didn't happen. It's basically impossible to get one because the scalpers have figured out a way to cheat the system (and the average person like me). But I still needed to get a new battery for my laptop. I've been using the same laptop since summer of 2006, but I'm on my third battery now. Eventually, the battery swells up and it's time for a replacement. When I got the first replacement in the States in 2009, it was free (I think it had something to do with previous or pending lawsuits at the time). In HK and China, however, you have to pay for a new battery. By buying it in HK, I saved more than 200 RMB which is more than $30! Here's a picture of HK's one and only Apple store (by contrast, Shanghai has three, one of which happens to be on the same road on which I live).
It must be awesome at night - the lit apple must look like a beacon
My friends, stopping to pose together on the way from the Apple store to the ferry terminal
Part of the skyline on the HK Island side of HK harbor - the HK Convention & Exhibiton Center is built out right on the water on reclaimed land
Looking back at the Star Ferry Terminal
The IFC (International Finance Center) building - the Apple Store is at the base of the tower
Annaliese (LOVE the tights!) on the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). TST is part of the Kowloon peninsula, which is the mainland section of HK. Technically HK consists of Kowloon, HK Island, the New Territories (where my friends are living) and over 200 offshore islands. In fact, HK's airport is on one of those islands, also built on reclaimed land
One of the few photos I have with my friend and 2/3 of her kids - this is at TST looking back at HK Island
My last winning hand at "Bananagrams." It's similar to Scrabble, but instead of all the players building one board together, you build your own and win by using all of your tiles before your opponents can finish using theirs. I'm especially pleased with the cluster of tiles at the top left - "cab," "greatest" and "zoo," also "ago" and "brood." I'm not completely full of myself - my friend suggested I take a picture of my win
As I predicted, I didn't do too many touristy things - in fact, the one touristy thing I did (riding the ferry across the harbor) was my friend's suggestion. She feels that no trip to HK is complete without a ride on the ferry. It was also a bit necessary, since we needed to go from one side of the harbor to the other - don't you love when these things work themselves out?
I would have wanted to do more (I especially like to go to Victoria Peak - you can get great views of the whole harbor from there on a clear day) if the weather had been nicer. As it was, it was colder and grayer than I thought possible for HK. My other trips there were also in January, but I enjoyed some sun and warmer weather at those times. You know what this means - I'm going to have to return to HK sometime later this year... Oh darn! (said very sarcastically)