Friday, October 16, 2009
Hong Kong is a city that never sleeps. And if you are given only 24 hours to tour the city, then you should never sleep to accomplish it. Of course you'd want a longer one but sometimes time doesn't permit. Your Hong Kong travel will then be rewarded with impressive experiences, stories and images that will last a lifetime.
8:00am or earlier: The earlier you get up from bed, the more opportunity you’ll get to notice how Hong Kong prepares for a typical day. You can visit the busy wet markets scattered in the city, parks littered with tai chi enthusiasts. Or you can have breakfast at local dim sum houses filled with early birds sipping tea and reading the freshest news of the day.
9:00am: At this time, expect to see the real fast-paced Hong Kong at its best. Office workers rush to bus stops and train stations. But this shouldn’t deter you from making your first trip to Hong Kong’s top attractions. Take the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central and capture Victoria Harbour’s iconic skyline from both ends of the harbour.
10:00am: Catch bus #15 to The Peak just outside Star Ferry’s Central terminal. While waiting for the bus to arrive, you can take a morning photo of Hong Kong’s tallest building (at least until its cousin on Kowloon side is finished). On the way to the Peak, you’ll pass by Admiralty, Wan Chai and Mid-levels East section and notice the diverse way of people’s life along the way.
11:30am: After exploring The Peak’s views (we fervently hope the sky’s clear while you’re around) and attractions like Madam Tussauds, it’s time to go down back to Central. This time, take the landmark Peak Tram on your way down. You’ll be able to spend the rest of the morning exploring other views of Central such as HSBC and Bank of China towers or explore one of the world’s longest outdoor escalator system. Afterwards, you’ll be able to grab sumptuous lunch at café bars within Mid-levels area. Be aware that office break time takes place around 12:30 – 2pm so it will be good to get ahead of the crowd; it is normal to notice people standing behind you waiting for you to finish your bowl.
1:00pm: Take the bus 260, 6,6X or 66 at bus terminal at Exchange Square and head off to Stanley Market, a good 20- to 30-minute ride to Hong Kong Island’s southern coast. Grab some souvenir items while you can. There are also relaxing cafes and pubs in the area if you want a midday break. You can spend an hour here before heading back to Central. Take the same bus but alight at Admiralty, just in front of the luxury mall called Pacific Place. Take a short tram ride your way to Western Market. If you fail to do so, you’ll not get the chance when you are in Kowloon.
2:30pm: At the Central MTR station, take the MTR going to Mong Kok. In a hot and humid afternoon, the last thing you’d like to do is get lost in a new city. MTR is clean, efficient, fast and affordable. More importantly, it takes you directly to your desired destination without much hassle. Take the Tsuen Wan line and get off at Mong Kok. You can continue your splurge for exotic items (Chinese ornamentals, shirts or fake jade accessories) or simply wander around the busy Ladies Market.
4:30pm: Time passes quickly when you’re in Hong Kong as there are simply lots of things to do. But it does not prevent you from making the most of your 24-hour stay in the city. As sunset approaches, walking around Tsim Sha Tsui becomes easier (includes dealing with taunts offering various products). Visit an Eprit outlet at Hankow Street or explore shows at Hong Kong Cultural Center (prior booking recommended).
6:30pm: It’s time to gear up for the night’s affair with light cocktail drinks at bars located on top of IFC mall. Watch the day end with one of grandest views of the city without spending too much.
8:00pm: Be prepared to watch the Symphony of Lights that feature Hong Kong and Kowloon’s buildings as props of light and music spectacle. Best places to secure best views include Tsim Sha Tsui’s promenade. But you don’t have to leave your cozy cocktail seat to enjoy the 15-minute show.
9:00pm: Head to Lan Kwai Fong for dinner or continue your bar-hopping experience. The place becomes alive with revelers, after work party goers and fellow tourists. You may extend your reach by visiting pubs in Wan Chai area as the night gets deeper.
As you head to your cozy Hong Kong hotel, you’d be pleased to realize that you have conquered Hong Kong in less than 24 hours. And with photos and memories secured, you’ll be ready to be a storyteller to everyone back home.
Photo credit: Mark Austria
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Another shot at MTR stations and places where staircases are placed in parallel with each other. Have you noticed that even when escalators are a bit out of the way on MTR stations, people usually won't mind getting that extra step just to be able to use them? The obvious reason is that escalators require less effort for passengers to get to the upper floor.
The MTR has posted the "Step Your Way To Health" as an incentive to people who ditch escalators and take the stairs. Yet, people can take the escalator and walk and end up at the MTR turnstile or favorite Midlevels dining place faster.
So how do we get people to use the staircase instead of the escalator. Make the steps resemble as piano keys so that every step you make, a sound will be produced. With the rush hour crowd, and many people rush to use both escalators and staircases I bet the piano tune's gonna be like the Flight of the Bumblebee.
Here's How Volkswagen did it in Stockholm, Sweden.
Photo credit: jparise
Think about it, when you're at the MTR all the announcements on broadcast are predictable. Sometimes they are annoying that they're no longer effective the more you hear them. Unlike airport announcements that have real purpose (delayed flights, changed baggage claims, lost passengers), MTR announcements are out there to
Your attention please, eating or drinking is not allowed on trains or on paid areas of stations
Yes, we know there is no eating. Certainly 99% of passengers can read the signs. Even if the broadcast announcements are for obvious boneheads, the upright ones find them irritating.
Please stand back from the door
Totototototot if I may add. This is more applicable when the train is fully packed during rush hours. But on late night travelers, this will surely keep them from falling asleep and missing their stations.
Please hold the handrail
This announcement is intended to remind passengers to keep holding the handrail when using the escalator to avoid accidents. However, in this video you see the announcement runs even when there are no people in the escalator area. It is just noisy.
An advertising idea is to promote MTR brand by using these ubiquitous signs and announcements outdoors (example: malls controlled by MTR) using the very same voice over lady and people will easily make a connection with this off-MTR experience with the real one.
Of course, these and other announcements are essential to sight impaired passengers, but at least when broadcast, can they be announced less frequently?
Photo credit: stephenk1977
A news story at CNN on teenage prostitution sounds shocking to some, but in Hong Kong this news is often heard on TV newscast or read in newspapers. It is a growing phenomenon about teenage girls involved in prostitution and using the money they earn to buy luxury items like luxury shoes or bags.
Prostitution is outlawed in Hong Kong so the perpetrators of this activity (vendors and clients) use the term "compensated dating" to describe what they do. Girls don't call themselves prostitutes because they can easily quit if they want to. Basically it's like finding a date and paying for her. Except that sex is almost always part of the equation. And when money's involved it's sometimes difficult to put it aside.
Some girls get hooked into this practice because their friends are doing it. And they see obviously what their friends get for doing so. These friends who are involved in compensated dating wear designer clothing or cosmetics. As teenagers who are unable to find work and can't ask for more allowance beyond school expenses, they have little or no way to go to get those desired things.
Or maybe it's one's way to rebel out of a problematic family as social workers notice that these girls belong to a wide spectrum of society; some are from poor families while others belong to rich ones.
Enter a sexually-deprived, well-to-do man in his 40s. He's lonely, maybe unmarried (or married but has a very busy wife) and has lots of money to spend on almost anything. The girl arranges a date, the location, sets the money involved and all date and bed rules. After the transaction, money changes hands and both go on separate ways.
They may also be teenagers who are not good enough to become pseudo models and have their own reasons of getting involved in compensated dating. One admitted to trying it out when she lost her phone, and when the amount paid to her wasn't enough she had to agree on another date.
Government measures of cracking down on these activities is not a long term solution. Care from family is the basic requirement in order for these girls to avoid engaging in this practice. Social workers are there but that's already when these teenagers are already hooked and can't find their way out.
Photo credit: dhun8881
Monday, October 12, 2009
If someone asks you how do you describe Dony and Ami, the official mascots of the East Asian Games Hong Kong, what comes to your mind first?
White vegetables? Octopuses? A pair of hairy teeth? If you find it difficult to determine, you're not alone. And it's not only that. Even if you guessed it right (it's actually lion and fire), that's not helping sales of these mascots. Shops have reported disappointing sales figures that paled in comparison with sales of Beijing Olympics merchandise.
David Leung Pak-keung, who designed the mascots, defended his work. "The mascots are lion and fire," he said. "The idea might be abstract, but they represent the spirit of Hong Kong people clearly."
Many people who were asked what do Dony and Ami stand for have various descriptions that stuck with common finding that they don't represent Hong Kong at all; heck, some are unable to distinguish who is the boy and who is the girl!
It's indeed unfair to pin the blame to the "ugly" mascots for low sales turnout at shops or even sales of tickets (I have a post at SEO Hong Kong related to this). SCMP reported on 30 Sep that "nearly 60 per cent of the 330,000 tickets for the East Asian Games have been sold, two months before the opening ceremony". Another reason could be that there has been lack of promotion in the part of organizers. The East Asian Games in December may have been marred lack of publicity (schools and taxis have now been deployed) so I posted things to do to help promote it in the city in April.
While it is too late to replace the official mascots, it's not too late to generate sales as the Games is still about two months away. There are ways that can be done to prevent further disappointment in the cash registers.
Photo credit: RJ Prescott