2 national heroes side by sideLast Friday I left for vacation to Hong Kong for 3 nights and 4 days. This was my first trip since December, and also my first time to leave Japan since arriving last September. It was an awesome trip; amazing and cheap Chinese food and cheap knockoff products like DVDs, t-shirts, sunglasses, and watches. I wish I would have had more time to be there, but in the short amount of vacation I had I think I did a pretty good job of enjoying myself.

I did my usual pre-vacation routine on Thursday night, pulling an all nighter, not packing until the last minute, and rushing myself at the end so as to not miss my train/plane. I made it, however, with plenty of time to spare at Narita before my flight, even after getting my JAL mileage card and boarding pass stuck in a machine and arguing in Japanese with a retarded luggage carrier grunt. My JAL card had a dent in it, so it must have jammed the machine. After I put my documents into the machine to try and get my frequent flier miles, the machine shut down and displayed a “Out of Order” message. I call the worker guy over, and tell him that my stuff is stuck and I need to get them back. He is obviously confused by this, and points at the 4 kanji on the screen reading them aloud slowly, “Out. Of. Order.” I almost bodyslammed the guy right there. Yes, Ace, it went out of order after it ate my docs; get them out! Luckily a real desk worker lady came over quickly when she realized I was talking to the retard, and she helped me out with about a thousand apologizes and bows. So yeah, JAL staff is really helpful at the airport as long as you don’t ask the retarded luggage carrier guy.

It was about a 4 and a half hour flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. I think it was actually delayed, but as soon as I sat on the plane I fell asleep until we landed. I was so tired I didn’t even wake up to eat the nasty airplane meal, which I usually would at least do. From the airport, got on the Airport Express train line to central Hong Kong island. The train was really nice, about on par with the shinkansen in Japan. I was quite impressed. Met up with Spiderman Derek, who works and lives in HK. He picked me up from the train station and hauled my suitcase a few blocks to his office. I would usually feel bad about my friend lugging my stuff that far, but since Derek can bench press Godzilla, I figured it was OK. Derek’s office was way sweet, if not in the very least because of the vast amounts of free snacks and drinks for the employees. I went to explore HK a little while Derek finished work, wandering around shopping centers in Central and Causeway Bay. It was pretty awesome just to explore. I’ve only been to HK once with my family when I was in middle school, yet somehow a lot of things seemed familiar. Even the smells of HK, good and bad, seemed the same as nearly 11 years ago. I should mention here, however, that Hong Kong was incredibly hot and humid, especially compared to the weather we’d had here in Japan before I left. Just walking around I felt pretty gross and exhausted from the traveling.

Had lunch at some Chinese fast food place. For 39 HK dollars, only around 5 USD, I was able to get a nice bowl of rice with cha-shu roast pork and a drink. Absolutely amazing. I wish food in Japan was half as good and cheap as food in HK. Then for dinner, Derek took me to this place named Satay King feastSatay King which has some amazingly good and cheap food as well. We ordered enough food to feed the entire Brady Bunch, and did pretty well on it, having to only take 2 small doggy bags afterwards. We had some good chicken wings, stuffed snails, curry, and a ton more food. The absolute best, however, was one of the most popular dishes of the house. It was some kind of special Satay noodle soup, kind of like ramen but with the thin vermicelli noodles. But the soup, oh man. It was amazing. Kind of like a thick miso ramen base, but definitely had more interesting spices and maybe some kind of peanut sauce in it? I actually have no idea what was in it, but it was probably the best soup I have ever tasted in my entire life.

greatest brunch on the face of the Earth

If you haven’t guessed already, one of the main reasons I went to Hong Kong was the eat awesome food. Sunday morning, Derek and I went to get dim sum. We were going to try the City Hall place, but it was packed so we headed to another place Derek knew in Causeway Bay. It was definitely not a bad second choice. Much more local, but it was amazing nonetheless. Between Derek knowing how to speak Chinese and read some, and me knowing how to eat Chinese food and read a few kanji, we were able to figure out what was what on the menus. We ordered tons of food again, and yes it was great. Cha-shu bows, noodles, more noodles, tripe, chicken feet, etc. After lunch and on our way out, the rain of the day started up. It was really strange; kind of on and off but really pouring whenever it started. Anyways, I went off to check into my hotel for the last 2 nights. The Eaton Hotel somehow gave me a free upgrade, so for pretty cheap I had a really nice room on the 19th floor. I spent the rest of Saturday shopping in Mong Kok and Temple Street, the famous night market which happened to be 2 blocks from the hotel. These street markets are the kind of place where you can get the shady bootleg stuff. I picked up a t-shirt, a watch, and some DVDs the first night. Unfortunately, Hong Kong is recently cracking down on the bootlegs or something, so while you can still find them easily, it’s not as ridiculous as I was hoping for. They also had a lot of stuff on DVD-9 format, which means you get a ton of episodes, but the compression is so high the quality is terrible. I had a feeling this was the case, and luckily only bought 1 set to test first. I got the first 3 seasons of The 4400 on DVD for 100 HK bucks (about 13 $US). Not only were the episodes TV rips probably gotten off BitTorrent, but all 3 seasons were compressed onto 2 discs, meaning the quality was like YouTube. Needless to say, I didn’t bother buying anymore of these super compressed sets.

Sunday, slept in and watched some TV. I hadn’t seen American stuff like Leno since last year, so it was fun to watch. Also I was never a Letterman fan, but has he always been this terrible? I watched an episode and pretty much every joke seemed just awful, and the bald guy in the band who is like Letterman’s co-host really needs to just shut up. Anyways, met up with Derek again and did some shopping and exploring in MK (everything in Hong Kong has an abbreviation it seems) then headed to Causeway for dinner. First we had snake soup, which was pretty delicious, then we had time to kill so we went to this electronics shopping mall which was cool to look around in but very tempting. Then for dinner, went to this great yakiniku viking. Believe it or not, I defeated Derek. Yes. The King of Yakiniku was defeated. Actually Derek had to get up and run to the toilet to relieve himself supermodel-style. Hahaha.

Spent my last night shopping in Temple Street and trying to buy a bunch of stuff. I got a nice compact DVD player for 300 HKD that plays pretty much everything: any region of DVD, DIVX, VCD, MP3, MPEG, karaoke, etc. It actually works, so I’m happy. I bought some more DVDs, t-shirts, 3 fake RayBan aviators, and a polo shirt that was cheap but feels really thin. Anyways, I stayed up late, woke up later than planned, and had about an hour of panicked last-minute shopping at the nearby department store. Headed home in the afternoon and arrived in Japan around 8PM on Monday n
ight. Narita was a ghost town that late, which made immigration and customs super fast. All in all an awesome trip. I’ll write some more about HK observations, but now I need to go to bed.
(I finished this blog around 4AM after starting it much much earlier tonight and being distracted by Futurama on my mega-DVD player.)