I arrived in Hong Kong late on Saturday (which, since I left Madison on Friday morning, felt really strange). It was a very long flight (about 15 hours), but wasn’t too terrible overall. There was a really good selection of movies on our personal seat-back TVs and I was sitting with Elizabeth (who I was traveling with from Madison) and luckily another CSCL conference-goer who was very nice and knew a lot of the same people that I did and all three of us had lots to talk about.
We took a cab in from the airport (which is on one of the outlying islands) and driving in we were amazed at the huge harbor and the density of the skyscrapers and shipping containers and buses and people. We almost immediately went to sleep and although I woke up a couple times during the night, I woke up feeling really rested and energized.
The major drawback here is the extreme humidity. It is oppressive. The forecast for the entire week is basically 90 and really humid, with a chance of thunderstorms on some days (it hasn’t rained yet, though). I’m not sure that I have ever sweated this much.
Sunday a big group of us (me, Elizabeth, Ben, Marcela, Vanessa, and Garrett) did some exploring. They let me lead them around the city and I think we did a good job of a) not really getting lost and b) doing a lot of sightseeing and activities. The first thing we did was take one of the old rickety double decker trams over to the Central area of HK Island and then walked through Hong Kong Park on our way to the peak tram up to Victoria Peak. This is the highest point in HK and has an amazing view of the place. After we took lots of pictures, we found a place to have lunch. I got some Indonesian style fried rice which was super delicious. Other people got curry or noodles or things like that, as well some interesting pear or tangerine tea drinks. Then we headed back down the tram and walked over to the MTR (the awesome subway) to go to the Sheung Wan area to see the Man Mo Temple which had some really neat conical incense everywhere. There were also lots of old shops with interesting things for sale (the temple is on the oldest street in HK). We then headed over to the Western Market which had a couple shops, a whole floor of fabric, and a wedding reception about to happen on the third floor.
After this our group split up a bit, and Elizabeth, Vanessa, and I took the MTR up to Kowloon to go to the night market and the ladies’ market. These were composed of stall after stall selling all sorts of things, mostly fake designer handbags, toys, scarves, remote controlled helicopters, clothes, bowls, paintings, and more fake designer handbags. After that we stopped at a vegetarian place and got some dim sum which was pretty tasty. Then Elizabeth and I headed back to the hotel to crash.
Today I am hanging out at the University’s library, getting some work done and preparing my talk for Wednesday. Looking forward for the conference to actually start!