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They learned from Taiwan under 馬英九 July 6, 2019

Posted by hslu in China, Democracy, Economics, 民主, 中國.
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Hong Kong Protests Turn Violent as Demonstrators Storm Government Building

http://flip.it/uK1SCL

These hard line protestors are doing a disservice to Hong Kong’s future because their actions will push foreign companies and capitals away from the island city.

The roles Hong Kong played for the past many years probably have already been replaced by Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Hong Kong is way less important to China now than just a few years ago. The violent protests will accelerate the pace to the detriment of Hong Kong.

Pushbacks from the government and China are coming and the entire Hong Kong will pay in the form of a stagnant economy, low wage growth, higher unemployment and decling wealth.

It’s crazy in HK July 5, 2018

Posted by hslu in 特朗普, Economics.
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Source: Flipboard

.

That’s $6 million Hong Kong dollars for one parking space. Giving an average parking space is 144 square feet, 8 feet wide and 18 feet long, this parking space costs USD $5312.5/sq feet.

The real estate market in HK can only be describd as a bubble the size of a baby Trump.

Source: CNN

香港 Grand Harbor Hotel November 15, 2017

Posted by hslu in China, Travel.
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I decided to stay one night in Hong Kong instead of Kowloon this time on our way from Taiwan to Sanya, Hainan, China. A side trip to Macau for 2 nights completes our 9 day vacation for our birthday celebration.

I wanted to stay at a hotel that is close to the Hong Kong harbor with a view of the sea. Price, of course, has to be reasonable and it has to be close to a metro station. 

Hong Kong Grand Harbor in the Forest Hill area met my requirements. It is about 5 minutes’ walk from the metro station and 8 stations away from 中環 where one can take the airport shuttle to the Hong Kong Int’l Airport.

Since we had an early morning flight to Sanya, I booked a room with a harbor view without breakfast.

The area is busy with students and people in and out of the metro station. All kinds of small shops and restaurants dotted the major street here. The hotel is situated in front of an elevated highway right by the nirth shore of the Hong Kong Island. The surrounding area is busy and the streets are narrow. It isn’t ideal but this is Hong Kong, a city with a very high population density. 

The hotel is well suited for businessmen but not for couples who are looking for a quite time together. The staff is helpful in explaining things to us.  The room is okay but the view of the harbor was very disappointing. 

We will not stay at Harbor Grand in the future even though the front desk staff bumped us to a bigger room.

I had a bowl of Vietnamese noodles here.

$70 Hong Kong dollars.

I can’t figure out what that was. Can you?

This is the view.

Lobby.

The double deck bus is very narrow. Looks odd.

I saw her pushed this very heavy cart around street corners looking for crowds. Not many buyers though. Tough life.

陳文茜:崇美,夸张 , 混淆视听 July 17, 2013

Posted by hslu in China, Cold War, Economics, Energy, Euro, Global Affair, Obama, Oil, Politics, Taxes.
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A friend forwarded me the following article from 陳文茜. I searched the web and found many sites quoting 陳文茜 as the original author。

I know it was an old post dated sometime in  2010。 Furthermore,my post is seriously out-of-dated but there are a few points need to be addressed.

The following is a copy of 陳文茜’s original post:

美國人又來了 (老美真厲害).

My comments continue after 陳文茜’s piece.

———————————————————————————————————–

美國人又來了 (老美真厲害)

陳文茜 

我人生前50年,短短的50年裡,已聽到2次全球經濟中心由西半球向東移的大趨勢論調;2次事隔25年,2次發聲皆來自美國。

第一次差不多於1985年時達到高峰期,當時《Japan as No.1》的書籍剛出版,撰寫書籍者為一位哈佛大學教授;美國各大報紙紛紛發表社論,有的充滿畏懼,有的充滿憤怒。也就在那一年日本為了平衡對美貿易順差,壓力下簽署「廣場協議」;之後美歐聯手拉抬日圓,漲幅近三分之一,吃掉了日本大半外匯,日本正式進入泡沫經濟時代,也終結戰後最大繁榮期。

 

現在事後看來,日本人真是傻!1988年還高興地抱著現金買下洛克斐勒大廈,甚至打主意入主紐約地標「World Center」。「歐元之父」諾貝爾經濟獎得主孟代爾去年9月接受香港鳳凰衛視專訪,明白點出當年「日本人做了愚蠢的決定」;日本從此經濟消20年;前10年泡沫經濟留下壞帳,1997年亞洲金融風暴,「Japan No.1正式結束神話;後10年經濟停滯,只靠出口微成長。

現在美國人又來了!金融海嘯剛發生時,向全球賣出有毒金融產品的美國人曾短暫懺悔一下,但也就那麼一下。一年後美國人又大聲了,而且聲調、語氣、論述都複製1985年的版本。這一次他們的對象是中國。

第一部曲,宣告並預言「中國即將統治世界」;

第二部曲,高唱人民幣嚴重低估論,130名國會議員聯名指控中國操縱匯率;

第三部曲,美元不聲不響地與其他國家貨幣競貶,由於美元仍居全球不可替代的國際貨幣地位,美元貶值等於美國人將他們的債務丟給包括中國、台灣等持有龐大美元資產的國家分攤。

金融海嘯發生後,美國有一批學者積極研究日本消失的10年,很怕美國重蹈日本之路。這些美國學者當然不會有足夠的客觀性,願意把時間再往前推10年,看著勤奮的日本人是如何走上這條不歸路。

美國沒料到中國這次變精明,他們也正研究日本消失的10年;北京請益西方孟代爾、史迪格里茲等經濟大師當國師。這一次中國官方早已吃了秤砣鐵了心,人民幣絕不上當,不會重蹈「廣場協議」陷阱。中國不向美國帶頭的國際壓力屈服,人民幣大幅升值,讓中國經濟從此也走上日本的不歸路。

中國謹慎不當傻子

日本人隔海看著這場主角換人但戲碼熟悉的人民幣大會戰,感慨恐怕很深。日本民間是全球購買最多雷曼債券的受害國,事後他們沒有從美國得到一絲補償。日本唯一賴以出口稱霸全球的TOYOTA汽車,又因煞車出包在美國不斷被放大層次;美國國會史上第一次出現一位外CEO,至國會被質詢羞辱。世界上有沒有一個國家有權請雷曼CEO或馬多夫,至該國接受國會質詢或批評,日本人最親美也受害最深,但他們沒有一絲絲權力表達憤怒。

中國小心謹慎地看待後金融海嘯的時代,最壞的已過去,因此全球一致行動的時代已結束;從此是各國角力的開始。中美不可能全面鬧翻但也不可能為了換取對美貿易,中國再誤上賊船。從去年開始。

中國官方幾乎駁回多數國企對美併購案,中國不想當個傻子,投資美國,再被當地工會套牢。一位了解中國核心政策的朋友告訴我,中國官方領導人的原語談話,「連自己多少斤兩都搞不清楚!被騙光了,還以為自己是贏家!」

按照最新2010年新數據,西方至今仍佔全球經濟總額2/3;談亞洲崛起,不如正確地說亞洲只分了一柸羹。至於所謂「中國統治世界」,別跟著美國瞎鬧了! 

CASE I
詹姆士,美國人到中國旅遊,用10萬美元兌換到68萬人民幣在中國吃喝玩樂了一年,花了18萬人民幣。他要回去了,到銀行去,因為人民幣兌美元升值到 1:5這位美國人用剩下的50萬人民幣換到了10萬美元。來時10萬美元,回去還是10萬,高高興興地回家了。

CASE II    

布萊恩美國人,也拿10萬美元換了68萬人民幣。在中國花50萬買了房子,吃喝玩樂花了18萬,想回去了。房子增值了,賣後淨得100萬人民幣,以匯率 15,剛好能換20萬美元。布萊恩在玩,也在掙錢。

CASE III     
王念祖中國人,到美國打工,68萬人民幣兌換到10萬美元。在美國辛辛苦苦了一年,賺了3.6萬美元。他要回去了,到銀行去,因為人民幣兌美元升值到15。這位中國人用13.6萬美元換到了68萬人民幣。來時68萬人民幣,回去還是68萬人民幣,悲傷地回家了。

PS: 匯率真厲害,不可不小心。
   歐巴馬真會算,要求人民幣升值。

 

———————————————————————————————————–

To me,  陳文茜 article reads like someone who admires the strength of an all mighty empire, or a bully if you will,who wielded tremendous power  in the world doing whatever it wanted to do without any negative consequences. This might be true in 1985 but it is less so since Obama became president of the United States in 2009. It was clear to me that 陳文茜’s 崇美 mentality was in full display in her article.

陳文茜 ‘s “漲幅近三分之一 “ assertion on the Japanese yen after 廣場協議 is misleading. In 1985, one US dollar would get you on average 238 Japanese yen. After 廣場協議 which took place on 9-22-1985, Japanese yen rose to 128 yen for one U.S. dollar in 1988: that‘s almost doubling its value against U.S. dollar in three years. In contrast, Chinese 人民幣 appreciated a little more than 25% in eight years: from 6.8人民幣/US dollar on June 11, 2005 (when it last traded at this level) to 6.14人民幣/US dollar on July 17, 2013.

Now a little background on 人民幣/USD exchange rate first:陳文茜 used the exchange rate of 6.8人民幣/USD in her examples. The last time when one US dollar could fetch 6.8 人民幣was in June, 2011. 

Now, we’ll exam 陳文茜’s three examples further which, to me, also showed 陳文茜’s “崇美” mentality. But some fact before getting into the actual discussion.

Fact: the actual 人民幣/USD exchange rate one year after June, 2011 was around 6.5; not 5 as stated by  陳文茜.

Case I: 詹姆士

Let’s for the argument’s sake take the stated exchange rate of 5.0人民幣/USD in 陳文茜’s examples, the purchasing power of 詹姆士’s 10萬美元 is in effect reduced by 26% in 人民幣terms. In other words, after 詹姆士 returns to the U.S., he will have to pay 35% more when he buys stuff made in China at local Wal-Mart. In essence, his 10萬美元 is no longer the same 10萬美元 he bought to China. 詹姆士 高高興興地回家。Buts James will be 伤伤心心地花钱 once he is home.

 

CASE II: 布萊恩

Here 陳文茜 didn’t specify how long 布萊恩stayed in China. If she implies the same one year time frame as in the other two cases, it is not likely that布萊恩’s house can double in just one year of time.

 Be that as it may, let’s take a look of 布萊恩‘s Play and Earn scenario.

 It is not only possible but it had actually happened all over China albeit at a slower pace. The sky-rocketing appreciation in Chinese real estate (30-50% rise per year) has all but disappeared in recent years. But I still think 布萊恩 should get a lot more from his real estate investment unless he bought it in a 四,五线城市。

Here is why:人民幣 is a controlled currency and it appears that 中国人民银行will only let人民幣appreciate 4 to 5% per year. To appreciate from 6.8:1 to 5.0:1, it will take 人民幣at least 7 years to reach that level. It is more than likely that houses in上海or 北京 can double in value in 7 years. Since 布萊恩 already wasted 18萬人民幣in the first year 吃喝玩樂, he has to work to make a living or borrow against his real estate investment to get by for the next 6 years. Gone are the days of 吃喝玩樂! 布萊恩actually had to work for a living:waiting tables at 上海新天地or teaching English for 新东方for six years just to get by。He may even have to borrow some money using his real estate investment as collateral。In the 7th year, 布萊恩 sells his house, pays off his loan and probably still has 100 萬人民幣when he goes back to the U.S.A. Not bad at all.

 Yes, this is totally possible in 7 or 8 years! But not in 1 year.

Well, I think  陳文茜 exaggerated to make a point. But she needs to make sure her facts are right.

CASE III: 王念祖

First of all, 王念祖 probably isn’t’t very smart. Everyone knew 人民幣 was an appreciating currency. There was no compelling reason for 王念祖 to wire his 68 萬人民幣 and converted it to the U.S. dollar. Besides, deposit in 人民幣 gets at least 3% interest in China. Deposit in U.S. dollar received a mere 0.25% interest in one year. Unless 王念祖 is a 傻瓜, he won’t wire his 68 萬人民幣 to America to begin with.

 Even 王念祖 did wire his money to the U.S., the purchasing power of 王念祖’s  68萬人民幣a year later is 26% higher than the 68萬人民幣 he took to the U.S.A. Based on 陳文茜’s 5 to 1 USD/人民幣 exchange rate. 王念祖 will find out that all the stuff made in the U.S.A. at 上海好市多(Costco) is a lot cheaper now。王念祖又高兴起来了。

Now, let’s take a look of “ 匯率确实厲害,不可不小心。”

Here I, like many others, totally agree with this point and I hope every country in the world can learn something from American’s bullying act in 1985 and the prices Japan and Japanese people paid in its aftermath.

日本人是真傻!The United States dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.「廣場協議, Plaza Accordis the third atomic bomb dropped by the U.S. on Japan’s economy. The damage on Japanese economy can’t be calculated because Japan is still paying for it in the form of lost decades, lost pride and mounting national debt which is estimated to be 230% of its GDP. We’ll see whether Abenomics can or can’t revive Japan’s failing economy in a few years. If it fails to do so, Japan will bankrupt on the weight of its debt and Japan will have no one but the U.S. to thank for.

日本人是真傻 because Japan still treats U.S. like it is Japaneses best friendLast time I checked, Shinzo Abe came to America looking for guidance and assurance. He should have demanded retribution from the U.S. for all the damages 廣場協議 did to Japan’s economy.

But he didn’t!

日本人是真傻 but 日本人活生生的例子taught Chinese government a very good lessona lesson worth trillions of dollars. How successful Chinese government can defend its currency and its economy will depend on how good that lesson is. 

There is no doubt that China knew what had happened to Japan since 1985. 中国人民银行, on one hand takes in billions of U.S. dollar and Euro from exports but, on the other hand, controls the level of appreciation of 人民幣 to ensure it will not hamper the growth of China’s exporting industries. In 15 to 20 years, 人民幣 may be allowed to float and by then 中国人民银行 will have a few more trillions of dollar and trillions of euro to defend人民幣’s trading level on the open market. So far, Chinese government uses its foreign currency reserve buying out natural resources all over the world because this is what China needs the most.

The United States has deliberately devalued its currency in order to, according to 陳文茜, 

將美國人的債務丟給包括中國、台灣等持有龐大美元資產的國家分攤。But, the United States will ultimately pay the price in the form of diminishing purchasing power, rising international and domestic inflation, rising interest rates, crushing national debt, growing tax burden by all Americans and reduced service to its citizens from federal and local governments.

The pivot of American’s foreign policy from Europe and Mideast to Asia, or making China America’s enemy going forward, has an expected consequence: forcing China and Russia to a united front to combat America’s aggression.

The era of a new “Cold War” is happening right now!

The rise of China coupled with Russia’s cooperation, however, will have an immediate impact on the behavior of U.S., arguably the only bully in the world for the past 70 years. China, along with Russia, will provide the sorely needed check and balance on the world stage. It is actually happening right now on Iran, on Syria and on Snowden, just to name a few. In addition, Obama’s “America is no longer the world leader” attitude isn’t helping America’s case either. When Europe eventually gets out of its current crisis in three to five years, a stronger and more competitive Europe will rise from the ash.

By then, a new world order; 三国鼎立, “will play out in front of our eyes again.

What an interesting time we are living in right now.

I can’t wait to see the new 三国演义“ as it is written in real time.

July 19, 2013

 

 

 

Obama, what now? June 23, 2013

Posted by hslu in China, Cold War, Congress, Global Affair, Obama, Politics.
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Schumer, when refering to Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong to Moscow, said the following on CNN:

“Putin always seems almost eager to stick a finger in the eye of the United States – whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden.”

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/u-warns-countries-against-snowden-travel-014740817.html?.b=index&.cf3=World+News&.cf4=1&.cf5=Reuters&.cf6=%2F

This of course happened after U.S. told countries in the Western Hemisphere that:

Snowden “should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.

This is just another example that the once all mighty America is no more:

1.    Of course, Putin approved the flight and, after he snubbed Obama on Syria just days ago at G8, is not afraid to take on him again.

2.    China knew full well that Obama “丢够了臉”  or has been thoroughly embarrassed at G8 in the hands of Putin. As such Obama will suck it up and hide behind his teleprompter if he is challenged on the world stage again. This was the reason why Hong Kong, by extension China, let Snowden leave. In other words, there won’t be any consequence from the U.S.

3.  Both countries were able to shame Obama publically and they did it without having to deal with the extradition mess. There are plenty of South American countries who will take Snowden in. Is there another international flight being planned for Snowden?

4.    Schumer wasn’t talking to his TV audience or Putin for that matter when he made the comment on CNN’s State of the Union program. Schumer was addressing Obama and he is telling Obama that you better make the consequence to US-Russia relation “serious.” Schumer is watching but he probably will be disappointed.

5.     The United States’s pivot to Asia has pushed China and Russia closer together than ever before. This last episode on Snowden was just a small example of how these two countries will work together to fend off America’s influence.

I bet Obama has no time for this small matter. He is busy with his family’s $50 million vacation to Africa. Better enjoy it on someone else’s money when he still can.

I wonder what my share of that tax money is? Do not forget that almost 50% of Americans do not pay any federal income tax.

Average Home Prices of Major Asian Cities December 12, 2010

Posted by hslu in China, Economics, Global Affair, Shanghai, Taiwan.
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When you talk to people about Shanghai’s real estate market, nine

out of ten times, the immediate response was: “The home price is too high.”

However, based on recent data collected from major Asian cities, the

average home prices of these cities may surprise you.

Here are the average Home Prices of Major Asian Cities as of

November 11, 2010

Average Home Prices

City
(TWD/坪) (US $/坪) (US $/sq ft) (US $/sq meter) (RMB/sq meter)
Hong Kong 2,020,000 $ 67,043 $         1,885 $          20,280 ¥134,256
Tokyo 1,720,000 $ 57,086 $         1,605 $          17,268 ¥114,317
Singapore 1,129,000 $ 37,471 $         1,054 $          11,335 ¥75,037
Seoul 860,000 $ 28,543 $            803 $            8,634 ¥57,159
Taipei 469,000 $ 15,566 $            438 $            4,709 ¥31,171
Shenzhen 366,200 $ 12,154 $            342 $            3,677 ¥24,339
Shanghai 337,600 $ 11,205 $            315 $            3,389 ¥22,438
Beijing 285,800 $   9,486 $            267 $            2,869 ¥18,995

Hu Tong and Michelin – Hong Kong August 30, 2009

Posted by hslu in Restaurants, Travel.
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Hu Tong and Michelin – Hong Kong

On the August 9 – August 15, 2009 issue of 世界週刊 “shi4 jie4 zhou1 kan1;” the weekly magazine of Chinese World Journal “世界日報 si4 jie4 ri4 bao4,” Ms. Wang Ya Lan 王雅蘭女士 gave an interesting description of traditional Cantonese cuisines versus the new style Chinese cooking in Hong Kong “香港 xiang1 gang3”. She chose four restaurants in Hong Kong and Kowloon “九龍 jiu3 long2” to illustrate the differences in cooking style and approach to Chinese cuisine.

The first restaurant discussed in the article was Hu Tong “胡同 hu2 tong2” which Maria and I went to in 2008. Hu Tong is one of the Michelin’s Top 10 Restaurant Values in the world according to the director of Michelin guides. Hu Tong is a one-star Michelin restaurant and is very affordable. Michelin even suggests that if you have only one night in Hong Kong, this is the restaurant you should go. Ms. Wang liked the stunning scenery overlooking Victoria harbor and Hong Kong Island, nice décor in the beautiful Chinese style dinning room and chef’s casual approach to fine dining. We liked it a lot when we were there.

The other three restaurants were all traditional Cantonese or Chinese restaurants: 竹園 “zhu2 yuan2” in Kowloon for its lobster in cheese and butter sauce, 西苑 “xi1 yuan2” in Hong Kong for its roast pork and pineapple buns and 浣紗廚房 “wan3 sha1 chu2 fang2” in Hong Kong for its smoked chicken and 擔擔麵 “dan4 dan4 mian4.

You might want to try them out when you are in Hong Kong next time.

香港三日游; 3-days in Hong Kong 10/8 – 10/11/2008; 10/9/2008 – Hong Kong and Hutong Restaurant November 15, 2008

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香港三日游; 3-days in Hong Kong 10/8 – 10/11/2008

Thursday, 10/9/2008 – Hong Kong and Hutong Restaurant

We got up very early today because Maria wanted to visit the Bird Market 鳥街, Flower Market 花街, and Jade Market 玉街. I wanted to go to Hong Kong Island for lunch and check out a few places there. We then have to come back to Kowloon because our big dinner at Hutong was at 8:30 in the evening.

I have already checked the map and decided to take the subway. We stopped by a small restaurant on the way to the Jordan station and had our breakfast there: a bowl of pi dan shou rou zhou 皮蛋瘦肉粥 , a piece of you tiao 油條, a small pan-fried cong you bin 蔥油餅, and a bowl of dou jiang 豆桨. It was okay but it definitely can be improved. Subway was convenient and was a little crowded with students and office workers. After getting out of the station, we only had to walk a short distance to the Bird Market.

We were early arrivals. It was on top of a small hill about several hundred feet long and 100′ wide. Only a few others with their bird cages had arrived before us. A few shops had just opened their doors to start today’s business. We walked around and saw about ten birds in their cages singing and chirping as if they were greeting their old friends. Later on, more shops opened for business as more people arrived with more birds. They all seemed to know each other and had their usual places to sit and hang their bird cages. Some birds had much clearer and beautiful voices and we could hear them from far away. What was more interesting to me was that the shops were selling insects, mostly grass hoppers big and small, and people were actually buying some in the hundreds to feed their birds. The green ones were selling for $18 HKD a bag. The colored ones were selling for $33 HKD a bag and the smaller ones were asking for $48 HKD a bag. I wasn’t sure how many grass hoppers to a bag but it must have at least 50 of them in each bag.

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I saw a guy preparing grass hoppers for his bird. He first cut out their feet and wings to prevent the grass hoppers from jumping or flying away. He then feed them to his bird through the cage. I also saw a post looking for a parrot that was lost on June 5th, completed with a picture and a detail description. It also promised a reward but didn’t give any amount. I didn’t bother to find out how many bugs a bird ate at a time. We left there after a half hour stay.

The flower market was just around the corner. Many shops had just opened for business and shop owners and helpers were still preparing their flowers before any customers show up. Some were unloading flowers from delivery truck while others were watering or re-arranging flowers. The place smelled great and looked very beautiful in the morning sun. It was a sharp contrast though to the sidewalk which was dusty and in need of cleaning. There were many kinds of flowers and they were all very pretty. The most unusual ones were Lotus flower buds and Lotus seed pods. There were also many orchid plants. They were all blooming nicely, a lot better than what we had at home. I wished I was good at raising orchids like they do.

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Before arriving at the Jade Market, we passed by five or six cars parked under an elevated highway. They were all from different driving schools and were waiting for students to come for road driving training. We also stopped by the tian hou miao 天后廟 or Empress Goddess Temple and paid our respect to guan yin 觀音. The temple was very small but the front yard of the temple was quite large. Many people sat under several old 榕樹 Banyan trees enjoying the nice sunny day.

When we arrived at the Jade Market on Canton Road 廣東道, I was very disappointed because the place was kind of running down and didn’t have quality stuff for sale. The open market was inside a large building with no walls. It had about 20 make-shift stalls selling stuff which can be found at 女人街. Maybe the owners kept the high quality jade pieces hidden and you had to ask to see them. Maria looked around but I had no interest at all. After we left the open market, we saw quite a few antique shops that were actually jade stores. Here the quality of the jade was much higher and prices were in the tens of thousands Hong Kong dollars. Maria actually had the nerve to stop by a store and asked to see a few jade pieces and jade ear rings. Since her knowledge and mine in jade were very limited, we wouldn’t dare to buy any. We looked around a bit more and decided to take the subway to the Hong Kong Island.

Although we had been in Hong Kong two or three times before, we only came to the Island once to attend a lunch in a huge restaurant about 10 years ago. Most of the time, we stayed at Kowloon because Damon, Maria’s brother-in-law, lived in Kowloon. This would be the first time we actually visited the island.

We got off at the Central Station 中環 and walked along Queen’s Road 皇后大道 and many side streets. Hong Kong is different from Kowloon in many ways. I now realized why Damon and people who live in Kowloon don’t want to come to Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong looks and feels like a business district while Kowloon is more like a huge busy shopping center. We decided to go to the restaurant I picked out earlier for a dim sum lunch.
While visiting Hong Kong, one has to try dim sum. The restaurant I picked out in Hong Kong Island was Lu Yu Tea House 陸羽茶室. It was touted as a unique, traditional and authentic tea house with changing weekly menus, traditional dim sums, stylish interior, and old waiters in their traditional white shirt and black pants. We sat down and the waiter asked us what kind of tea we like. I said “jv pu 菊普.” Do you know what he said to me? “We don’t have jv pu. You can have “pu er 普洱 .” I immediately said to myself”What kind of Cantonese restaurant is this? It didn’t even have my favorite tea.” Well, surprise aside, I took his offer and order a pot of pu er 普洱 tea. I then saw the menu which was printed on a sheet of whimsy paper; the kind of paper I used to see when was a little boy back in Taiwan. I glanced through the items on the menu and picked out several that I like to eat. I gave the order to the waiter who had been on my side waiting to take my order. I then said to him “I like to have an order of 鳳爪 (Chicken feet) and 荷葉飯 too.” Did you know what he said” We don’t have 鳳爪 and we don’t have 荷葉飯 either.” And he pointed to the menu and said “That’s all we have.” What? No more than 20 or 30 items? I can’t believe what I hear. Not to mention that their prices were almost twice as much as I would get in any Cantonese restaurant here in the United States.

It turned out that none of the dim sum dishes were special or worth writing home about but their specialty dishes looked interesting. I was totally disappointed at limited selections and disgusted at missing a good opportunity to try great dim sum that we like.

We then walked around the side streets but didn’t see anything special. The Grand Millennium Plaza 新記元廣場 was a nice place to take a break. The IFC Mall 國際金融中心商場 was very busy with many students on their way home from school. We stopped by for ice cream and enjoyed the view of the Hong Kong harbor.

Instead of taking the subway back to Kowloon, we decided to take the ferry since we are just a few blocks away from the Start Ferry 天星碼頭. The ferry ride was less than 20 minutes and it was very pleasant under a clear sky. We then walked back to the hotel and get ready for our dinner at Hutong 胡同.

Hutong is one of the most popular chic restaurants in Hong Kong. It is in the heart of 尖沙嘴 Tsim Sha Tsui, less than 10 minutes walk from our hotel. It is on the 28th floor of One Peking Plaza and I have reserved a window table for 2 at 8:30 PM.

The term hutong 胡同 refers to the small ancient alleys of Beijing’s traditional courtyard neighborhood. Although Hutong the restaurant bears no resemblance to Beijing’s hutong, the name reminded me of old world Chinese charm as if I am taking a leisure walk along the back alleys and immersing myself in the daily lives of people along the narrow streets. We took the elevator to the 28th floor and were met with several attractive hostesses in traditional Chinese dresses. We were a bit early and I told them about the reservation. The hostess asked to wait for a while at a private dinning room near the entrance. The ceiling to floor windows in the room provided a beautiful view of the gleaming skyline of the Hong Kong Island. The interior is traditional old Chinese with wooden screens and wooden doors completed with 門聯. The private dinning room has a 60″ round table just like what we have at our house. It was set up for ten guests with ten high back wooden chairs. After we had a chance to take a few photos, the hostess came and led us to a window table in the middle of the dinning room.

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The interior of the dinning room was dark with a few red lanterns. Long red silk curtains were draped from the ceiling. The tables and chairs were old style Chinese. The window is on one side of the dinning room and it is probably 12 to 14′ tall. There were 20 tables or so and the restaurant wasn’t very busy when we got there. I saw some flash lights when customers took pictures to remember the special occasion. I liked the interior of the restaurant because it is modern and trendy yet it retains the old charm of China. The wood screens were beautifully carved. From the entrance to the dinning room and then to the bathroom, all décor was traditional Chinese. There were a bronze Buddha’s head, a big bird cage and statues of a few Chinese warriors. The ceramic plates and bowls were heavy and nicely done. Of course, the awesome view of the glistening Hong Kong harbor night scapes provided a nice backdrop for a very romantic dinner. I especially like the menu with Chinese calligraphy and the smart use of Chinese phrases to name their dishes.

We ordered a bottle of Sancerre from Domaine Thomas and three appetizers:
• 雲海白玉 Yun Hai Bai Yu – White Jade in a Sea of Clouds
o Scallops with fresh pomelo or Chinese grapefruit,
• 芝麻苦瓜 Zhi Ma Ku Gua – Sesame Seed Bitter Melon
o Bitter Melon with Black Sesame Seeds
• 胡同小物 Hutong Xiao Wu – Hutong Little thing
o Braised Lotus Roots with Assorted Mushroom

For Entrée, we had
• 小蹄筋 Xiao Ti Jing; Small Pork tendons
o Pork shank Tendon fried with Golden Scallions and Pawn Roe
• 王府烤鴨 Wang Fu Kau Ya; Roasted Duck for Imperial Family
o Imperial Golden Crispy Duck Fillet

For 主食, we ordered
• 水滸擔擔面 Shui Hu Dan Dan Mian; Spicy Noodles
o Spicy Noodle with Minced Pork and Peanut Sauce

And finally for dessert, we had
• 黃面魚 Huang Mian Yu’ Yellow Face Fish (It doesn’t sound like a dessert.)
o Chilled Mango Pudding served with Mango Milky Sauce

White rice cost $18 HKD a bowl, Chinese tea went for $18 per guest and coffee was $38 HKD. All dishes were very tasty and nicely presented. They retained the northern Chinese flavor with a twist of fusion flavor. However, the Dan Dan Mian wasn’t very impressive though. The service was polite and tentative but not pushy. It took us almost 2 hours to finish our dinner and the wine. The meal cost us $1,965 HKD or about $280 US at a little better than $7 HKD/$1 US after fees.

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On the way back to our hotel, we noticed a nice looking restaurant called The Sweet Dynasty 糖朝. The name caught our attention and we decided to check it out. It turned out the place is famous for their sweets, thus the name 糖 or candy. We got a table upstairs and ordered 百合红豆沙 and 木瓜炖雪耳; both are excellent, way better than what we could get in the US.. The décor is simple yet quite trendy. It also serves hot meals and dim sum. The place was great and worth coming back to. Since it wasn’t very late, we strolled to the Temple Night Market again for a night tour. The place was still very crowded but many places had started to close for the day. We walked around a bit and returned to our hotel. Tomorrow would be our day to gamble in Macau. I couldn’t wait.

香港三日游; 3-days in Hong Kong 10/8 – 10/11/2008 – Kowloon 九龍 November 8, 2008

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香港三日游; 3-days in Hong Kong 10/8 – 10/11/2008

Wednesday, 10/8/2008 – Kowloon 九龍

From Japan, we flew to Hong Kong on All Nippon Airway. We left Narita at 10:15 in the morning and arrived at Hong Kong a little past 2:00 in the afternoon. The flight was uneventful and the lunch was good but the hot meal was just so so this time. We have booked 龍堡大飯店 BP International Hotel through the local travel agent and we decide to take public transportation to the hotel instead of a taxi. After a short inquiry, we found out that the cheapest way is to take the Airport Express to Kowloon Station 九龍車站 and then take the free hotel shuttle bus K5 at the station to 龍堡大飯店. The fair was $160 HKD round trip for each of us which would be about ½ the price if we took taxi to and from the hotel. The Airport Express was clean and comfortable and took about 20 minutes to Kowloon Station. We then waited for about 5 minutes before getting on K5. It then stopped by four other hotels before dropping us off at 龍堡. We checked in and were given a $50 HKD discount ticket to their seafood buffet at the hotel which cost $260 HKD. Since I have already decided which restaurants to go to, we had to skip this offer.

龍堡 is in the middle of 尖沙咀 Tsim Sha Tsui just north of the Kowloon Park. It is a few blocks from the Temple Night Market 廟街 , two subway stations; Jordan and 尖沙咀; and the Nathan Road 彌敦大道, the widest and busiest street in Kowloon. It is also within walking distance to Star Ferry, Peninsular Hotel and Huton Restaurant where I have made reservation for tomorrow night for us. In addition, taxi fares to 女人街, 鳥街 and 花街 are less than $30 HKD, about $4 in US dollar. Our room was on the 12th floor facing south but it wasn’t tall enough to see the night sky of the Hong Kong harbor.

We settled in the room and decided to go to Peninsula Hotel 半島酒店 for the legendary afternoon tea since we had a light lunch on the way to Hong Kong on the airplane. We decided to walk to get some exercise. Besides it wasn’t very hot outside. It was a good and relaxing stroll and it took about 20 minutes or less.

The Peninsular Hotel was, and probably still is, a popular place for movie stars, businessmen, businesswomen and politicians to meet and chat. It is also a place for tourists to get a taste of high class life style. We got there at 3:30 PM and the lobby was about 1/3 full. It the has old world charm and a touch of class. The light was kind of dim and the level of conversation was quite low. We sat at a table away from the entrance and foot traffic of hotel guesses. It also gave us a good view of what’s going on in the lobby.

We ordered the pre-fixe menu which cost about $80 for the two of us. Maria had coffee and I had tea. The food came on a silver-plated 3-tier tray. The top level had French pastries. Finger sandwich was on the middle and the bottom tray had several scones. They came with crème and jelly. We each also got a cup of crème brulée which was soft and creamy. The greenish-colored crust on the top was even better than crème brulée. We took our time and enjoyed our moment of quietness. We didn’t want to finish the scone and pastries because we wanted to save some appetite for dinner. The hotel staff gladly put them in a beautiful box for us to take back top the hotel. We also checked out the level on the 2nd floor above the lobby. It had many stores selling top class fashion clothes and jewelry. There was a tea house there. However, all had more store clerks than customers.

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We got out of the lobby and walked toward the hotel. It was quitting time for office workers and there were many people on the road and at the bus stops. We put the left-over pastries in the small fridge in the room and got out to our next stop which was 女人街. It took a 10 minute taxi drive and $29 HKD.

女人街 or Lady’s Market is actually a 4-block stretch of 通菜街, or Tung Choi Street, between Dundas and Argyle Streets. It has probably 100 vendors in make-shift stalls selling mostly ladies goods; including fake name-brand handbags, clothes, socks, pantyhose, ear rings, shoes, toys, fake jade Jewelries, CDs, DVDs, fake antiques, bronze statues, tea pots, paper fans, watches, suitcases, electronic gadgets and accessories for cell phone and iPods. We have been here 3 times before and we liked it very time we were here.

The place is the no. 1 tourist stop of the entire Hong Kong where prices for every merchant are open for negotiation. The right technique, I was told, is to ask for the price first, divided it by half and then start your offer a bit lower than that. The vendor will probably say something like:

“This is too low. How about so and so?” They will usually add:
“This is the lowest I can go. I won’t make any money at all,” or
“We haven’t sold anything yet today. You are our first customer,” or
“This is lower than my cost. How about so and so?”

Never take the second offer because it is usually still way over-priced. If you don’t like the second offer or you knew that you were offered something lower at the last stall, you’ll turn around and start walking away. More often than not, the vendor will call you back and ask for your offer. You will then add a little and insist that this is your last offer. Usually, you will get what you want but don’t need at a price that’s mutually agreeable.

Never do something like what this couple did with a vendor after we have just bought a pair of Kung Fu dresses from her; a white one and a black one:

The young couple was interested in the Kung Fu dress and signaled the vendor of his choice. The vendor took it down from the top shelf and said in her broken English: “$120 Hong Kong Dollar.” The guy showed the dress to his female friend and discussed the offer with her in less than 10 second and said: “We are not willing to offer anything more than $80 HKD.” The vendor then said “$100 HKD.” The guy looked at his female friend for less than 5 seconds, turned around and said “We’ll take it.” They looked happy and walked away without knowing that we had just paid $80 HKD for the same dress. Of course, it probably cost the vendor $40 or even lower to get her supplies from a wholesaler.

We walked from one end to the other and back. On the evening of the last day, we went back to女人街again for a quick look around. In two trips, we bought 20 paper fans, 2 fake Gucci bags, a small clutch with the same design and several Chinese movie DVDs.

The Temple Night Market 廟街 in 油蔴地 Yau Ma Tei was the next stop. It was less than a mile away and cost less than $20 HKD by taxi. 廟街 got its name from the temple 天后廟 Tian Hou Miao (Heavenly Empress Temple) near by. This place is similar to 女人街 because it has many stalls which sell everything you can find at 女人街 .

However, it is different from 女人街 in the following ways:

• 廟街 is also called 男人街 because there are many vendors who carry sports T-shirts, man’s dresses and pants.
• Because it is close to a temple, there were many fortune tellers 算命 who would check your palm lines, look at your face, touch your hand and then tell you what future holds for you. If you want to know whether you will be filthy rich, he’ll tell you when. If you need to know whether you will have a boy in your life, he’ll probably say that you are destined to have a boy after you are 40 years old. If you want to know whether you will marry a beautiful girl next year, he’ll tell you very much so.
• There are many restaurants with tables on the street corner selling Cantonese food and seafood.

We wanted to buy a voltage converter because both Hong Kong and Shanghai; our next stop, have 220V, instead of 110V, outlets. We talked to a couple of vendors and they wanted to sell us multi-function plug that works with 220V wall outlets. However, this wasn’t what we need. Since I didn’t know whether it would actually do the job, we decided not to buy it. Actually, we were afraid that it may damage our cell phone or electrical shaver.

We walked around but didn’t buy anything this time. We also walked by several busy restaurants where many customers had their midnight snack at tables on the street. The 10 or so small tables actually took over almost ½ of the intersection forcing cars and tourists alike to get by the tables slowly. We liked the bustling atmosphere a lot and the food and beer looked very tempting. However, we would not eat here because I have already decided to have 粥 Congee tonight. We did return here on our last night in Hong Kong and bought 2 Kung Fu dresses, 10 cashmere scarves (probably fake ones,) 6 pairs of underwear and a small bronze Guan Yin statue.

Our dinner was at the 40-year old Fu Ji Congee Restaurant 富記粥品, not far from the Temple Night Market. 粥is something one has to try when visiting Hong Kong and, according to some web sites that I researched, 富記is the place to go for 粥. Congee 粥 (Zhou) is different from xi fan 稀飯. The former was cooked over low heat for a long time and the structure of the rice grains disappears completely while the latter was cooked rapidly with rice grain intact. In addition, xi fan  稀飯 is bland in taste and is usually eaten with side dishes. Congee 粥 is made in two steps: a pot of rice is first cooked with water until the grain of the rice disappears. It is then set aside. The rice is then cooked with meat, seafood or inners of pig (all have been prepared separately earlier) depending on customers’ order before it is served. I ordered 及第粥 ji di zhou or zhou with pig’s inners (豬雜粥) because I wanted to try something that’s different from what we usually order: 皮蛋瘦肉粥 pi dan shou rou zhou. 及第粥 was a staple of common people in canton. It uses all parts of a pig to make the zhou without wasting anything at all. It has the following ingredients: 瘦肉片、猪肝片、猪肚 and 猪肠. The zhou went well with shredded ginger 姜丝 and cilantro. However, we didn’t it finish all the inners because of their high cholesterol contents. The steamy zhou was good to the last drop; silky, tasty and full of flavor too.

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