This wasn’t a site seeing trip, but more of a dinner out with numerous friends and family. This trip started in Hong Kong moving north to Xian, east to Shanghai, north to Beijing and then back home to Seattle. I have flown into Hong Kong before, but never spent any time there until this trip. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the 1 1/2 days we spent there. As usual and par for the course Linna and I didn’t read up or book any tourist activities but relied on our natural instincts and just started walking.
We did some shopping in the Causeway neighborhood and then found Hong Kong’s most famous dim sum restaurant – Maxim’s at City Hall. Once we saw the long-line, about as long as some homeless line in Seattle for free food, we knew we should have left our hotel earlier. Our total wait was a little over 2 hours…was it worth it? Oh hell no, but we were committed by this time.
During our walk to the renowned Maxim place, we were wondering why there were so many woman hanging around chatting and having lunch in such odd places. Approximately 300,000 foreign housekeepers (maids) are working in Hong Kong and by law they must live in their employer’s house. Every Sunday is their day off which means they are not allowed to stay at home, almost like being thrown out every Sunday. So they end up spending the day outside in all types of weather and seasons. They congregate year-round on Chater Road in the center of Hong Kong Island and it’s closed to traffic. Every place near the metro station Central where there is a few yards of available floor space, a maid will rolled out her carpet and put up camp.
After a few hours in Hong Kong (it seemed liked) we flew off to Xian, which is located in central China. You think the middle of China would be smog free, but for some reason the area becomes unbearable with smog at times. Xian has a population approximately 8 million people and was the starting point for the Silk Road. We spent four days in Xian which is plenty for any city; we spent most of our time visiting friends and family over lunches and dinners.
Another Chinese flight and we were in Shanghai which is probably my favorite Chinese city due to its cleaner air and Shanghai’s magnifignat skyline, great restaurants and of course the famous Bund Street. I had day excursions to Wuxi and Wujiang but was back in my hotel in Shanghai each night. I had a great dinner with my friends Jiapei Qin, Rong Li, Jie Qi Cao and his wife Quane Luan at this new restaurant in Wuxi called the Fusion Club.
I had a conference in Beijing later in the week and I decided to take a train to Beijing from Shanghai this time…and after this experience I will probably never take an airline flight between the two cities again. For the same price you can experience a business class seat with good food and a completely folded out seat versus a cramp coach airline seat in a stuffy hot airplane. The ride was a relaxing 4 ½ hours but I was able to get some work done and squeeze a peaceful nap in too.
Beijing was raining when we pulled into the Beijing South train station, I was actually happy to see the sky filled with grey rain clouds versus the heavy grey smog. This city usually runs well over 250 AQI (air quality index), but during the rain it was actually in the double digits. But it doesn’t take long for the smog index to creep back up, the next day it was already in the three digits.