*sent on August 4, 2009; part 1 of 4*

Hello friends!

I’m alive and kickin’ on Hong Kong Island! I arrived here at 2 pm on Saturday afternoon (that’s 2am Toronto time) after a 15 hour sleepless flight. Stepping off the plane, it was hot and muggy and within minutes my shirt was damp and I was sweating like crazy.  But I was pumped and ready to go!

It’s 2 am, and I’ve been awake for over 24 hrs
It must have been the excitement or the adrenaline that kept me going. My first night in Hong Kong was a long one.  Upon meeting up with my family friends with whom I’d be staying with, I dumped off my gear at their flat (right outside Tin Hau station), and we headed out for a quick snack.  The thing about Hong Kong is that you can find food anywhere, at any time of the day! As my aunt explained to me, most people don’t cook because it’s much more convenient and, sometimes, more economical to just eat out. Though, it can be an unhealthy habit because I’m sure the meals are packed full of salt and MSG.

Speaking of convenience, one of the things I noticed and loved was how everything in HK is so accessible and interconnected.  Buildings are linked with bridges, there are tunnels taking you from one side of the street to another, you can basically spend awhole day shopping, eating, travelling within their sophisticated subway system (the MTR – which has the Octopus card system where you can add money to a card and swipe with each use. Fares depends on distance) which puts Toronto to shame.

We walked through Victoria Park and toured around Causeway Bay (tons of shopping including Sogo, a 9-level Japanese department), then took a ferry to the Kowloon side of HK to admire the scenic skyline of HK Island.  There was a light show but it was pretty lame (the buildings sort of light up).  Tsim Sha Tsui is a popular shopping district so we headed there first to soak in some of the nightlife. We made our way to a sushi restaurant (which is apparently owned by Jackie Chan!) and had dinner there, then headed to Mong Kok where there is a Ladie’s Market selling everything from clothing to jewellry to household goods.

Along some of the side streets, there were also tons of food vendors.  The menu included things like stinky tofu (fermented tofu, really smelly), fish balls, meat on a stick, desserts, fruit drinks, etc.  We stumbled back onto the MTR and headed home.