I flew up to Hong Kong with Jane for a few days this week. I have been to Hong Kong so many times that it feels like a partial 2nd homeâ€¦ but I hadnâ€™t realized that it has been quite a long time since I was last there.. more than a year and a half ago.
We went to the horse races in Happy Valley on this trip. I highly recommend doing that if you are in Hong Kongâ€¦ what a beautiful, cool, interesting place. Hong Kongites take their horse racing very, very seriously. There are so many VIP areas, luxury boxes and socialites there that it is really an experience. And all this against a beautiful backdrop of a field of green grass, an oasis right in the middle of Hong Kong, surrounded by hundreds of high rise building, making for a truly dazzling visual backdrop. In fact, I think Iâ€™d have to rate going to the races in HK as one of the top man-made urban events/places to check out.
Here is a picture of Jane and I at the track.
I then shipped Jane back to Thailand and I took a short 1 hour flight to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Kaohsiung is Taiwanâ€™s 2nd largest city, with about 1.5 million people. I like Taiwan quite a bitâ€¦ it has a really great mix of a lot of the good things that China has, but without a lot of the bad thingsâ€¦ From what I have seen of Kaohsiung it seems like a really nice, picturesque little city.
The nightlife is pretty bad though. I went to a place called the Pig & Whistle, which the internet and the hotel concierge told me is the best place to go. At 10pm it had about 12 people in it, all of them guys, all sitting at a bar, drinking beer. I ended up chatting with two guys though. One from England, the other from South Africaâ€¦ they have both been in Kaohsiung for 4 years teaching English. They took me to another place (doubled me on their bikesâ€¦ I love motorcycle/scooter based transportationâ€¦ I really donâ€™t like cars at all) which was much better, called Fabricâ€¦ but the people in that club were very Chinese-styleâ€¦ in other words, everyone was kinda weird and mostly stuck to their own little groups and smoked a lotâ€¦ but I did meet quite a few people and many of them were niceâ€¦ not many people spoke much English though and my Mandarin is very poor, so most convos were pretty short.
As an indication of how bored I got at one point, I dared the South African guy on a round of beer to go over and kiss this one old, 60 year old lady who was wearing a neck brace, on the lips (why she was at a disco is anyones guessâ€¦ for someone with a neck brace on though she was really dancing hard!). He really got an A for effortâ€¦ she wouldnâ€™t do it, and even at one point her husband got really mad and I thought he was going to get beat up! But he tried for about 5 minutes, lol.
After that I decided to do my usual and take off and try to find something interesting on my own. I ended up at a place that I guess you could say is sorta like a strip club, but the girls donâ€™t really take off their clothes. There was only about 15 people there and it had a strange stage showâ€¦ there was an MC guy on a microphone talking almost constantlyâ€¦ about what I donâ€™t know, and most of the show was just some guy wearing kinda crappy little g-string style underwear, breakdancing?! Chinese people are so friggin weird when it comes to nightlife. Apparently part of his â€˜showâ€™ was to go into the crowd and interactâ€¦ he saw me and came over and challenged me to an arm wrestle?! The MC guy walked over too, and was hovering over me while a spotlight honed in on us, as I was arm wrestling some nearly naked Taiwanese guy?? I lost the arm wrestleâ€¦ and my dignity. 😛
So, needless to say, Kaohsiung will soon be history. I am going to head south on a 1.5 hour bus ride to a place called Kenting, which is supposed to be a nice and fun beach town. I really have no idea what to expectâ€¦ but thatâ€™s the point of going.
After that, I will likely come back to Kaohsiung and catch their new (as of January of this year) super high speed train to Taipei. It goes 300km/h, so the 350km trip takes only a bit more than an hour! Thatâ€™s pretty cool! From Taipei, I may go to Seoulâ€¦ but not sure. I am also looking into going to North Koreaâ€¦ I really donâ€™t want to as the only way you are allowed to go is as part of a tour groupâ€¦ and the shortest trip is 4 daysâ€¦ and I wonâ€™t have internet, or even a cell phone (they confiscate all that stuff and give it back to you when you leave the country) for that entire timeâ€¦ but it would be neat to see a bit of N Koreaâ€¦ and definitely would be a cool place to say you have beenâ€¦ but 4 days without internet, or outside contact, and being bussed around and shown only things they want me to see, doesnâ€™t sound like my idea of a good timeâ€¦ not to mention the fact that Iâ€™ll have a very hard time holding my tongue and not telling all the government people there how evil they are and how much I would like to participate in the overthrow of them and execution of Lilâ€™ Kimâ€¦ and you are actually supposed to praise everything you see there or you can get in serious troubleâ€¦ so I have no doubt if I go I have a very good chance of ending up in a prison.
So, weâ€™ll see what happens. In the meantime, Iâ€™m still in Taiwanâ€¦ if you want to find me just look for the naked arm wrestling show in Kaohsiung, Iâ€™m there all week with two shows on Sunday. 😛