Category Archives: Asia

Hong Kong

Throughout my life I’ve found myself back in Hong Kong, visiting close family who have lived there since I was wee. I’ve always touted Hong Kong as being my favorite city in the world, and I’d say that the sentiment still stands to this day.

Hong Kong, China

Aside from being one of the most modern cities in the world, Hong Kong is also one of the most photogenic that I’ve ever seen. The city is built on the coastlines of giant mountain peaks that rise up from the water to form islands, towering up from any space that the mountains don’t already own. The resulting skyline is a breathtaking view no matter where you are in the city.

What truly makes Hong Kong unique though is how absolutely globalized it feels, being on the bleeding edge of modern society while still struggling to break any old world shackles, remnants of being owned by two old sovereign countries (Great Britain and China). The resulting culture of Hong Kong is a melting pot, with traditional Chinese butted up against a more transient and international population of Europeans and Asians.

Hong Kong is very much a consumerist culture. Every part of the city has beautiful malls or sprawling markets. The transit system is the most efficient and impressive that I’ve ever seen, and every public utility is wiped down regularly due to fears of viruses, remnants of a bird flu epidemic years ago.

At the time of my visit, Hong Kong was and is going through a major identity crisis, where questions about how the mainland Chinese government rules the city has popped up. This has created an underlying level of dread that purveys everywhere, and local Hong Kongers are rising up in protest against the corruption that has crept into the local government. I wish Hong Kong good luck in their fight, since it’s a fight that everybody seems to be facing these days.

I’m choosing not to gush about the food in Hong Kong, but it’s perhaps my favorite cuisine. For food pictures, feel free to check my Instagram page!

One thing that really strikes me about Hong Kong is how it is one of the few giant cities that has almost no traffic congestion. I believe that this is because their public transportation system is run so meticulously well, so timing your commutes becomes a science. Its really impressive!

I will end this post with an image of dim sum scientists engineering the best food I’ve ever eaten.

Terimah Kasi Bali! (Bali Pt. 1)

I just got back from a two week vacation with my mom to Bali, Indonesia and Seoul, Korea, and I’m still a little euphoric.  I’m dividing my experience up into a number of posts due to the sheer amount of pictures that I brought back with me, as well as a separate section on Seoul.

 

 

So for the uninformed (which was me before this trip), Bali is essentially a paradise island, complete with your standard tropical beaches, rain forests, and magnificent mountains, all packed into an island the size of Delaware.  On top of that, the majority of the population of Bali is Hindu, so there are these gorgeous Hindu temples all over the place.   Every town you drive through has multiple open air temples, and most houses have their own shrines in their gardens so that the people can worship at any point in time.

 

 

 

For anybody that has been to Siem Reap in Cambodia, the vibe is basically the same.  Hindu architecture and worship sites are built to integrate into their surroundings and heighten beauty.  It feels very natural and very spiritual.  Also they have these beautiful statues of their gods and goddesses peppered everywhere, with their daily offerings of flowers and rice.  My mother said it best, that it’s amazing how people will build these magnificent structures in the middle of the jungle.

 

 

 

 

 

So to describe the topography and scenery, Bali is comprised of the peaks of mountains along the edge of the Eurasian plate, which inevitably brought about heavy volcanic activity.  So driving through and around the island, you have expansive plains of rice fields with large forested mountains on the horizon.

 

 

 

Driving into and over the mountains is an adventure.  Fortunately the roads are all paved, but they’re windy and narrow.  The infrastructure of Bali was established with roads that are essentially single laned but eventually split into two lanes.  On top of that, the majority of the locals drive scooters and motorcycles, and there are a lot of them.  So driving requires extreme vigilance.   There are very little rules of the road. You have to carve your way to where you need to go.  Motorcyclists there are bold and reckless, often stacking their entire family of 4 or 5 onto one scooter with no helmets on.

 

 

Denpasar, the capital of Bali, is rapidly becoming gentrified and commercialized due to the heavy tourist population.  Once you get outside of the city though, you can find Bali’s beauty everywhere.

The Balinese are extremely friendly island folk, and are quick to smile if you show them friendliness and amicability.  If you go to Bali, be friendly and kind!

 

 

 

The weather in Bali is tropical.  We visited during their summer, which means a lot of rain.  Since Bali is an island, the weather moves quickly and there is a lot of breeze.  The rain only emphasizes the lush green foliage that is everywhere.  Bali is chock full of beautiful flowers and plants, and there are lovely (and scary) insects everywhere.  If you’re afraid of bugs, you probably shouldn’t go! Lots of mosquitoes, dragonflies, praying mantises, and these stupid annoying things my mom called gamu-gamo , which are apparently large flying termites!!!!  Lots of ants, so you can’t leave any food or crumbs, or you’ll wake up to a sea of ants on the table. There are insect eating geckos all over the walls, which are cute but gross when they fall on you.  Stray dogs are everywhere, crossing the street in front of you on the road, and the island does have its share of cats.

 

 

 

Next week I’ll talk about the food and the must sees.