Monday, February 27, 2012

Not in Cambodia Any More

Megacity outside our hotel window
When did Dorothy say to Toto "We're not in Kansas anymore."?  Well I remember walking out of the Hong Kong Airport Friday night and right up to these glass sliding doors, the LED sign said "Next Train in 6 Minutes".  Where were the tracks?  Five and a half minutes later a phantom sidled up and the glass doors opened to reveal a sleek clean fast train and in two stops I was at a 5 star hotel and that's when I said "I'm not in Cambodia anymore".
Eddie showing the way
      My brother Eddie does international trading and was in Tokyo during the week and then had meetings in Hong Kong this week, so he invited me to spend the weekend with him.  It was great to see him and to do things together in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is really an incredible city.  Like Manhattan it is built on an island and has a dramatic skyline, but unlike Manhattan it is surrounded by mountains and islands that make the city more interesting and varied.  Although Hong Kong is the most crowded city in the world it has preserved a lot of green space and some of the islands that are part of Hong Kong are almost entirely preserved.  That means that the only way to develop is vertically.  Illustrative of this is that Eddie and I hold the record (along with many others who might be too inebriated to know) of having the highest draft beer in the world.  The Ozone Bar is at the 113 storey of the RitzCarlton Hotel.   I also might me one of the highest persons to sit in a hot tube at 76 storeys,  braving a chilling mist after I got off the elevator both before, and especially, after I got out of the 95 degree water.  Now I don't think Sir Edmund Hillary or Tensing Norgay hold either of those records and I did it on consecutive days.
Subway enterance
       A little history; Hong Kong was part of the British Commonwealth for years, but we all know that it is part of China.  In 1997 the British gave it back but at that time it was a wealthy city that was about as far from communism as you can get.  The millionaires and billionaires threatened to move to Vancouver if they were forced to share, so China proclaimed Hong Kong a Special Autonomous Region (SAR); one country two economic systems.  All the fat cats stayed and now China is moving more to the Hong Kong model.  Money talks and Hong Kong is the dominant financial center in SE Asia.  Hence Eddie's meetings and my visiting him there.
City lights
Afternoon inthe park
       We both like birds so on Saturday morning we took a ferry across Victoria Harbor and then out to Lamnar Island.  This is the largest island in the SAR and probably a real destination in the warm weather.  There are a cluster of restaurants near the ferry and than a lot of really nice cove beaches surround by rocky green hills.  Looks a little like Maine, but warmer.  Eddie and I totally mis-read the trail map, took the wrong trail that made our hike 3 hours instead of 40 minutes but we took it slow and had lunch at a really nice restaurant right on a beach.  As in Cambodia, not many birds.  The most common were Fishing Eagles, no gulls or crows, strange.  We were supposed to meet his friend to watch a rugby match but got back too late.  Ed went into the office to catch up on emails and I went to the 76 floor to establish what might be Guinness Record status.  Later that night we went out on the town and finished with an exciting call to Mom.  "Oh that's nice that you are in Asia together, but when are you coming home?"  Soon Mom. 
Green space
      Sunday we went to the Hong Kong Zoo.  Beautiful park, felt sorry for the animals and saw some cool "free" birds while sitting outside having coffee: mynars, some kind of warlber, a Red-whiskered Bulbul and a Masked Laughtingthrush.   We walked back toward the subway and had a great lunch and then said goodbye.  He went to meet a college friend and me to wonder how fast this weekend went.
The streets of Phnon Penh

 I clicked my heels together and before I knew it I was in the back of Samol's tuktuk and driving through the chaos and the mess and I couldn't help but say to myself "There is pno placeh like Phnom" (Penh, that is).


  1. How nice to be with your brother in Hong Kong! What are the chances of that happening?! A hot tub? I can just see you...

    I like your pun at the end.

  2. Rustic charm by Jackie Naylor

    According to reliable furniture shop in Phnom Penh construction materials information, this vacation home was designed by owner Jackie Naylor in a rustic style that complement the woodland outlook of its surrounding.
    “Underfoot, reclaimed wood flooring from old barns was used,” said Naylor. “All the worn elements on the interior are the real thing – the closest we came to veneer was using bark stripped from local trees to create the eye-catching finishes on the window and door surrounds.”
    “We discovered a local artisan who creates furniture and bannisters made primarily from locally found twigs and branches,” added Naylor. “We commissioned him to create this bannister, which has become a feature of the living areas.”
    All of the rooms’ design has a rustic feel thanks to the distressed woodwork and ornate moldings and exposed structures of beams as well as the authentic finishes of the natural timber.