Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hong Kong

Arrival in Hong Kong meant crossing a border (not officially “international,” but into a “Special Administrative Region” with its own passports—Hong Kong is under China’s “one country, two systems” policy and even Chinese citizens must get a visa to visit Hong Kong).  You see remnants of British organization, but it is now much different than my visit just prior to the handover in 1997.

If Beijing has grown into a rich and powerful commercial center, Hong Kong is still the capital of conspicuous consumption.  As you take the train into the city, you are arriving in what was once the purest system of capitalism in the world.  Much has changed, but there is still a LOT of money and spending here, and every upscale brand is visible on the streets and on the signs in the shopping districts. 

We arrived at our destination, the Salisbury YMCA on the tip of the Kowloon Peninsula at around 9 pm, and made our way to our rooms shortly after.  We arrived without Todd Rivetti, who was to join us here Friday night.  His flight from the USA was cancelled and his arrival put back to Saturday night.  This meant that we would take most of the day Saturday without agenda or commitments, which turned out to be a great blessing for the two of us.  Myron was able to catch up on work without having to show me around, and I was able to rest, wander the streets (I’ve been here before and have a slight familiarity with things, though by no means an expert), and enjoy being able to use some English and visit Starbucks, where I could get coffee and 20 minutes of free internet!  I was able to post my previous posts there—couldn’t access this host in China—check my email, use Facebook and Twitter (not available in China either), and do a little gift and souvenir shopping (more looking than shopping, but got a few things).  Myron joined me for late lunch and a walk through the port area, then he headed to the airport in the late afternoon to get Todd.  When Todd arrived, we went on a walk through Kowloon Park, and then the Temple Street Night Market.  We then came to one of Myron’s favorite “hole in the wall” restaurants (the entrance really was a door into a walkway and you would not see any evidence of the restaurant from the street).  A great meal was followed by a walk back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

A word about the YMCA where we are staying.  It is run by a management that has the desire to “put the C back into the YMCA”.  They continue to be a testimony and ministry to the community, in addition to operating an excellent hotel.