Monday, August 21, 2006

Arrived in Hong Kong

Okay, I'm in Hong Kong now.

To sum up, for those of you who don't know what the deal is:
I'm teaching in Pepperdine's Hong Kong program this fall, which means a bunch of Pepperdine students come all the way to Hong Kong to take Pepperdine classes, and I am one of the people teaching them (the only one from our Malibu campus). Actually, Pepperdine has many such programs, in Italy, Germany, Argentina, etc., but our Hong Kong program is unique in that we are hosted by a local university, Hong Kong Baptist University, and the Pepperdine students in the program can take classes there, too.

So I'm living in a hotel on the HKBU campus, teaching in HKBU classrooms, holding office hours in an HKBU office, and so on.

Benjamin So from HKBU met me at the airport. He was holding a sign with my name on it. I've never had someone hold a sign for me at the airport before. But, sad to say, the experience was not as exciting as I had hoped it might be: I saw him, he met me, and we went to the car waiting for us.

But it was convenient. I have two suitcases, and the handle of one of them is slowly tearing itself apart, and I was not looking forward to taking public transportation, transferring 3 times (each time going up or down stairs), and then having to wander around campus looking lost. Instead, Ben and a driver from HKBU took me straight to the hotel where I'll be staying for the semester.

I've got a suite. That means I've got two rooms that connect. One hotel room has a bedroom and bathroom; the other has a living room and kitchen (well, it doesn't have a stove but it does have a microwave).

Past folks who did this program told me about the area and I was able to use their help to find a shopping center (Festival Walk) that has a grocery store and stores to buy random other things I didn't bother to pack (like fingernail clippers). Most of the other stores in that shopping center are kind of like the ones I mentioned in Taipei 101: famous brands so exclusive I've never even heard of them. I did see a place selling digital cameras, in the HK$3000 range, or about US$380. Much higher than what I was able to find in Hawaii (where I saw a low-end one for under $100), and I was expecting to find prices much lower than in Hawaii. They're probably only selling high-end cameras. I need to find the place where they sell the cheap stuff.

The past folks told me about this handy shopping center right next to the subway, and they told me about the Chinese Red Army training base next to the school, but they neglected to tell me that the army base was directly between the shopping center and the school. To get there, you have to walk around the base. So much for taking a shortcut. Yikes!

The internet connection in the rooms is convenient, but I'm surprised at how slow it is. I haven't had a connection this slow in a long time. It was noticable enough that I ran a few tests and I found I was experiencing download rates of about 20 KB/s, though McAfee's online test gives between 60 and 100 kb/s. By comparison, DSL and cable can often get between 200 and 500 kb/s or something like that. And it's not that I'm trying to connect from Hong Kong to the US: pages from HKBU take awhile to load, too. Not that I'm complaining--waiting an extra two seconds for a webpage to load is not what one would call "hardship". But I imagined, technology-wise, Hong Kong would be better than anywhere I'd ever been before, so I'm just surprised. Then again, this is a hotel, so I'll see what the connection is like on campus.

I haven't experienced much here yet, so nothing much to report. But if you're one who doesn't check this blog on Sunday, I had a lot of posts yesterday, so check it out. I'll probably post something about language later on tonight or tomorrow morning.


At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Jason Kim said...

Great blog! Enjoy HK; I hear the food is fantastic.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That shopping center near HKBU is pretty much a high-end place. However, most Pepperdine students didn't mind spending their money there, as it is so convenient.

If you ever see anyone outdoors at the Chinese Army compound I think it will be a rare occasion. We all know they are there, but almost never seen inside their compound, and never outside.

For more reasonable prices on electronics, go to Star City. Take the Metro to the big station at Salisbury Road and walk toward the Star Ferry Terminal. In addition to the stores in the building across from the terminal [walk in past a Starbucks and take the escalator upstairs] there are also electronics stores in the still larger shopping complex adjoining the terminal where the ocean-going ships dock.

Nathan Road [which abuts Salisbury] is crammed with stores offering every kind of goods imaginable at similar prices: some are real bargains, others are rip-offs.

Finally, to eat a prepared meal inexpensively, don't overlook the student cafeteria on the ground floor of the HKBU high-rise dorms. I don't think the food there is bad, and the prices are almost unbelivable low in dollars.

Walking back from that cafeteria to your hotel there is a bank ATM on the right that I know works with Bank of America ATM cards. There is also one on the walkway from the Lam Conference Centre to the main entrance to the Library.

I'm waiting for your comments on the very detailed recyclable trash containers all over the HKBU campus.

At 1:24 AM, Blogger Kevin Iga said...

The ones around Tsim Sha Tsui were about the same as US prices. I'm checking out Sham Shui Po which is supposed to have cheap electronics tonight.

And when I get the camera, then maybe I'll post a picture of the recycling bins. They have to be seen to be appreciated.

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous lorie said...

Yikes is right! sorry I didn't tell you that you can't cut through the PLA base. Bob and I made the same trek in the blistering heat...I should have warned you. Your photo of the view from your apt makes me a bit homesick for HK. I can't believe it was just a year ago this month we were there. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did


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