Travel to the South-East Asia: Hong-Kong and Taiwan
"We are back! I am looking forward to telling you that Taiwan and Hong-Kong is absolutely different lifestyle, it is incredible and instructive. I promise to publish the itinerary and the photo coverage, because for those 12 hours on the plane while getting back home I finished writing all the notes - only the style polishing left!" - which I wrote at Sandytimes still at night on the 7th, but the problems that came up every second prevented me from getting down to the creative process...
Anyway, luckily I got over all the obstacles, and the first part is complete.
|Appreciations to all our employees, especially Pavel Alashkin, our Editor-in-Chief, for the good chance they gave us to forget all about the rush in Moscow and the trip my boss and I had together.
I was too nervous before the trip and bothered all with the questions like - "If this or that happens, what will you do?", invented "double- and triple redundancy", tortured all our system administrators with reminders of what they were to do, to check, not to forget - all in all, I was intolerable-)))
Thanks very much indeed to all the for the understanding and patience - we saw that 3DNews has grown up enough and proved robust to all the problems of life, which is nice to feel and even makes you proud of that!
Our trip as usual was arranged by our friends from GeoClub who had taken all the trouble with planes, transfers, hotels, vouchers, thought out, provide and finally hand out precise instructions to every tourist.
The trip was fantastic, but for myself in many ways that was a succession of shocks, indeed.
Here is shock number one - two days before the trip:-)))
The boss is calling, ghastly perturbed:
- On what date are we to arrive in Taiwan?
- on the 31st.
- Are you really sure????
- Yes, sure, I got the tickets on hands-)
- Check once again!
- Just had a look. Yes, on the 31st of January precisely. Why?
- I am ordering a Peking style duck for that evening. Booking a table and ordering a duck.
Wow! The boss! Booking a table himself! Ordering a duck! Almost a week in advance!
That was simply incredible, but that was indeed a remarkable event, and in many ways the trip was incredible...
Finally, my favorite taxi-driver Pyotr (who regularly gives a lift anywhere to my family folks whenever I can't, drives me whenever I want to have some drink, and who already knows Andrey's private address, the address of our office etc.) took us to the Sheremetyevo airport on the evening of 29th January. That day was dreadful - heavy snow-storms, skids and traffic-jams.. It took us over two hours to get to the airport (by the way, Pyotr was getting back for for over three hours), and all the time we feared to get stuck completely and miss the plane.
The takeoff strip was continuously being cleaned - otherwise, no one would have been able to fly up. When we finally got on the plane, we were closely watching the plane being processed with a special compound against icing...
But from the very beginning we were all lucky in the trip, and even the departure was not delayed.
Andrey was doing his regular ritual of traveling abroad, explaining all the details to me, since it was the first time we were on a long journey together, and I was not "at the wheel", so was able to maintain any "tradition".
Traditional coffee with whiskey, a sign of traveling abroad, a taste of freedom and vacations...
At Duty Free, we immediately bought a 1 liter bottle of whiskey and 1 liter of tequila to be enough for the forthcoming week to recondition ourselves on evenings, and took a half-liter bottle of whiskey with us on the plane as a life-saver for the boss during the long 12 hours to Hong-Kong when it's not allowed to smoke.
The departure was set at 11-25 pm, so we could hope for a sound sleep to which abundant quantity of whiskey might favor.
We called all the relatives, said good-bye, listened to valedictory and wished, and went off to the boarding. There were few white people traveling in the plane, those who were flying were mostly Chinese.
We picked up some Russian newspapers - "Kommersant", "Vedomosti" and whatever lying on the bar, understanding we might see Russian papers again in a week.
Got at the seats. I sat down by the windows - I adore watching sunrises and sunsets through the viewport. Then we took out the whiskey, drank to the success of the trip, to the safe running of our website while we are away, then ... we ran out of whiskey, switched off the lights, had supper and dozed.
There were 3 seats for us two, so we were able to sleep lying outstretched in turn. My "turn" once happened to much shorter - I had compassion on the soundly sleeping boss who finally forgot in his dream that it was not allowed to smoke...
All in all, whiskey is a great thing - thanks to it the flight didn't seem too long or tiring. We were awoken two hours before the arrival to make us fill in all the papers and declarations stating we hadn't experienced SARS and that we are good and healthy people.
I am filling in forms
PART 1. Hong-Kong - aka the special administrative district Xianggang (Xian-Gang as per the Old Chinese maps)
30 January, 2004
Hong-Kong, 1 pm local time. Landing almost in the ocean - a complete perception that we are landing on water. There is very little land over here, so they bulked a whole island (!) of soil for the airport (!), two strips - one for takeoff, the other for landing, the traffic is impressive, and the airport is as huge as as a city!
It is built of light structures - a chain of 80-100 giant glass hangars stretched along the whole island.
We passed through all the controls easily and went off to the city. But Andrey had to take off his hat every now and then - it either rang or the sanitary inspection feared he was hiding a disease under his hat, or the photo of a typical botanist in his travel passport didn't fit his current image of a "cool cowboy".
It is 30 January, winter outside, but 17 C, green everywhere, the sun is shining.
We breathed in clean, fresh ocean air - isn't that the PACIFIC? Incredible!
We got at a taxi and drove to the Park Hotel, almost scragged our necks because we kept on looking around. The taxi to the city costs 300 Hong-Kong dollars, (i.e. 45 USD).
Motorways! Bridges! Tunnels! Hong-Kong actually takes a tiny area - the island itself and a little of mainland - Kou Long peninsula, and on the mainland part immediately near the shore there start mountains. To build something, they clear up the construction site, connect the mains and erect a "branch" of skyscrapers.
Multicolored branches of skyscrapers
The city layout up to the shore is unwonted - nests of residential skyscrapers located wide apart from one another. The motorways are excellent, were built yet before 2000 under the British guidance (in 2000, the treaty was over and now Hong-Kong is Chinese, not British).
The cargo port - we were driving along it for over 20 minutes at 110 km/hr, that is, it is at least 30 km long. That is something incredibly huge, and it is still being built extensively... Hong-Kong is a concentration of cargos and money from all the South-East Asia, which immediately catches your eye - the city is rich and very busy. Inside the city itself, even in the oldest part, construction is underway everywhere - old houses are pulled down, and skyscrapers are built instead.
A lodge :-)
The Park-Hotel met us amiably and gave us an apartment bearing the lucky number! -)))))
The Chinese lay much stress upon numerology, they liked us, so we were given apartment No. 1111.
The lucky number means the trip is going to be fortunate!
A scene from the room's window
We dropped our luggage, changed clothes, drank a small whisky to refresh after the 11 hour long flight and rushed off to look around the city. We found ourselves on the mainland part of Hong-Kong (Kou Long district) - that was unforgettable experience, but anyway you should stay here for a couple of days: one day for the island, the other for the mainland part. Two days and night is quite enough to look around the most remarkable and interesting - the whole Hong-Kong takes merely 1000 sq. km, but one day is definitely not enough.
We "worked through" our (mainland) part of the city well enough - walked through a dozen of streets located perpendicularly to the embankment, then another five parallel ones.
The Chinese New Year (22 January) celebrations were still on, so all the decorations were still there.
At the entrance to the shop
Holidays are still on...
"City night club"
We had lunch at a Japanese restaurant, I really had a hankering for really delicious meals - e.g. my favorite miso soup. We, frequenters of sushi restaurants in Moscow ordered a helping of soup and were dumbfounded when they served us each a huge dish of it - as much as 1.5 liters. The soup was so thick to make a spoon stand. Neither Andrey nor I were able to eat it all up - but it was really delicious! So we were eating it long and circumstantially from both dishes, enjoying.. and the sushi was superb. The waiter was desperately trying to figure out what country we came from, but the word "Moscow" proved know over here as well, he was staggered to know how distant our Motherland was and immediately brought us some restaurant souvenirs.
We had a long walk around the city, had coffee at the French "Kafe de li France", some beer at Huppo Pub for recovery - there in Moscow we mostly sit at the PC monitors, in a car, at parties, and here we made a long walking journey a few kilometers long.
"New mandarins" - in my pseudo-English transcription -)
|Some lyrical digression.
My boss has extremely developed "third signaling system, which regularly saves us many troubles in life :-)
Say, he is reluctant to come to an important meeting although he swore to come - I am brawling, persuading him, even cursing... It turned out later he was right - there was some sort of a complication, so there was no sense in going there. Or,he and I quarrel dreadfully on matters of principle for the thousandth time "once and for all" -)) when I firmly decide to give up the boss and 3DNews, I pull myself up to make irreversible steps and then on the very last moment there comes Andrey with urgent problems and issues (which are indeed a matter of life and death) and all becomes no toys, then all rows are forgotten.
Well, regarding the that signaling system - we walked along lots of streets, I was about to sit down and take the air, but Andrey was still looking for the passage to the embankment. Wherever we walked, the passage to the embankment was blocked by construction sites, so I decided to do without the embankment, but something was pushing and shoving Andrey not letting him calm down on the seen -))
Anyway, we did walk out to the embankment and... no, that was absolutely incredible! We were standing with the jaws dropped - why couldn't we have seen that before!!!
We spent about an hour over there without leaving the place, only taking pictures of that repast of color music and urban planning of the 21st century. On that side of the gulf, on the insular part of Hong-Kong - on the roofs of endless skyscrapers there were color laser rays crossing and twisting into spirals (regardless of distance between buildings they are all synchronized with the ray colors all pre-selected.
When we showed these pictures in Moscow to various people we repeatedly changed planes in Hong-Kong to the Taiwanese flight - the response was unanimous:
- Are we really flying above that fascinated beauty??? How comes that we have stopped for a moment to watch all that???
On the embankment, we came across just the IT stuff as large as life. We were simply astounded by a photographer with superb digicams and three photo printers on a trolley (he fitted the power supply from a large battery like that for the car). He takes pictures, prints them out immediately, puts into neat transparent covers and all is ready in 5 minutes! There are lots of people wishing to get a photo right at the embankment.
We were also tempted and that was not in vain at all
We were taking pictures of all that beauty untiringly, my "ladies'" model of Cassio camera was not up to the mark of course, but Olympus was on par and now it's time to recall all that and imagine those days looking at these photos. We were long choosing to embark a pleasure-boat and look at the embankment where we were standing from out of the ocean, but... that was already a late evening and we would have to get up early the next morning for the flight to Taiwan (7 am local time or 2 am Moscow time).
We walked along the quay of pleasure-boats and suddenly saw a real huge ocean liner moored right to the embankment! And one more nearby! You can't grasp it with one glance, and they were simply standing by the quay. We had thought special piers were needed for such leviathan, but here they are, simply nearby. Ocean, vast depths near the shore?
The ocean liner
At the hotel, we tried to find out with the porter where the nearest striptease bar was - to get all the impressions of "high life", and they directed us to the Kangaroo bar. By the bar, there was an unbelievably jaunty sports-class Ferrari, but our attempts to get into the bar failed - the owner of that Ferrari hired the bar together with the striptease dancers...
"Bummer" - as Andrey said :-)
That evening ended up in a gangsters' pub where people were throwing dice and gambling. We bought a bottle of beer each and were shocked by the price - they explained to us that 6 bottles would be sold at a huge discount, but we simply didn't want that much beer. The waitresses were ashamed about that price, and when we finished with the beer they brought us each another bottle as a gift from the shop.
In the pub
We were slowly coming back to the hotel, understanding that were were unlikely to see that marvelous view again... Too difficult to get here, too far away, too expensive, and - simply too little time for such travels.
That was really smart of Andrey to plan it all carefully in advance (which is by the way shock number two!) so that were able to gain those 24 hours for Hong-Kong and see the city instead of simply changing planes at the Hong-Kong airport to a flight to Taiwan, which we regularly do, that we got a detailed idea of the local shops, restaurants and smoking-rooms at the airport :-)
P.S. I hope it is clear to everyone - you have read a coverage of the First day of our travel. It will be continued in part 2 that follows:
||CPU & Memory: