13 April 2007

What's New in Hong Kong

At the hotel I stay at, Harbourview Horizon, the club house is open until only 9 p.m. I got back at 8:30 and quickly whisked away the kids to the club house for them to enjoy a few precious minutes in the playground. These same kids were complaining about sore feet from walking all day, but now had the energy to slide, run, and crawl. Kids!

I didn't expect Hong Kong to change much since my visit in 1994. After all, how much more advanced can it be? Well, it can and it is.

I already mentioned about the subway's glass partition, but another obvious change is the use of RFID tickets. Back in 1994, entering or leaving the train platform requires feeding the ticket to the turnstile. For us tourists who buy single-trip tickets, this still holds true, but for the locals the Octopus card is the way to go. Without even taking the Octopus card out of their wallet/purse, most people simply put it atop the card reader and off they go. It is similar to the system in use in some office buildings. How I wish the NYC subway would evolve to the next level and use the same method. It is very frustrating to slide the dang MetroCard too fast or too slow.

Victoria Peak is probably to Hong Kong as the Statue of Liberty is to NYC - you have to go there when you are in HK. For me, another reason was for my Son to enjoy yet another train ride. He loves train very much. I remember the Peak that I visited in 1994 only had a few telescopes to look around. There was a path to walk about, perhaps lined with local artists hawking their wares. The Peak that I visited yesterday was a multi-story mall. There was a post office, a video game parlor, Madame Tussaude Wax Museum, souvenir shops, fast food restaurants, etc. Sadly, another change is the higher level of pollution noticeable from the Peak. I don't know if I have any 1994 photos taken from the Peak, but supposedly if I do, I would be able to see the difference. All the building tops are now covered in smog. One entrepreneur on the Peak viewing platform claimed that he can "clean up" the smog in the photo. I suppose he would take pictures of the tourist and then digitally add them to a clean HK skyline.

During my 1994 visit, I stayed briefly at the apartment of my future wife's Uncle on her mother side. Near the apartment was the "new" Dragon Center mall. What made the indoor mall special was that it had a working rollercoaster. Supposedly, for safety reason, the coaster is no longer used, but the tracks are still there. I tried to photograph the tracks but for whatever reason a security guard didn't let me. I don't see why. Even with 911 and threats of attacks to the NYC subway, no law has yet been passed to ban photographing in the NYC subway. Maybe the guard just liked to pick on us tourists. Other new additions to Dragon Center are the ice skating rink and arcade zone.

No comments:

Post a Comment