Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

Eaten Alive By Little Fish in Hong Kong

September 6th, 2010 at 2:22 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yes. It’s true. We (our feet, actually) were eaten alive by hundreds of voracious little fish.

Fortunately the effects were temporary.

Fish nibbling on my foot, presumably removing only dead skin

Fish nibbling on my foot, presumably removing only dead skin

One of our last days in Hong Kong in July was spent taking a trip up to Victoria Peak – the highest point of Hong Kong island.

The Peak Galleria Shopping Centre, atop Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island

The Peak Galleria Shopping Centre, atop Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island

Located at the top of the Peak is the Peak Galleria Shopping Centre (pictured above), where we found ourselves confronted and intrigued by the sign below.

Advertisement we saw in the mall for the Wonderfish Spa

Advertisement we saw in the mall for the Wonderfish Spa

We made our way to the advertised Wonderfish! Spa tucked away on an upper floor of the Peak Galleria mall, and committed to the 20-minute treatment (which cost about US$20 per person).

We put our belongings in a basket which was stashed away in cubby holes in full sight, then had our feet washed, and then were seated on the edge of large square tiled “tub”, filled with about 18 inches of water and hundreds of small (2-3 inches long) fish. We were directed to slowly put our feet in the water.

As soon as our feet touched water, the small fish swarmed all over them, creating an odd tickling/scratching sensation that at first was a bit discomforting, but soon became quite entertaining – both from a sensation of touch as well as visually.

Here’s the video of our experience:

I had a small waterproof camera with me, which helped in capturing some of the above clips, in case you wonder.

The fish are related to carp, and legend has it that a farmer in Turkey discovered the foot fetish properties of these fish by accident some thousand(s) of years ago.

They are apparently strongly attracted to dead skin, and that’s what they focus on as they munch their way over your feet, although I can’t help but wonder what happens after they have consumed all the dead skin there is to be had.

We found 20 minutes to be just about long enough. Our feet felt refreshed and tingly after the treatment. And we had a good time with the whole experience.

However, I found that my feet, ankles, and lower calf, where the fish had dined, were still extra sensitive to excessive heat for several days afterwards. Linda did not have a similar issue.

It was a really entertaining and fascinating experience, but not one that either Linda or I have any need to experience again anytime soon. Once was probably sufficient.

The Wonderfish! Spa web site has ample details on the process.

 

Hong Kong – All About Shopping?

August 31st, 2010 at 12:14 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

“You can see all there is to see around Hong Kong in a couple of days, Mr. Richter.

People really come to Hong Kong for the shopping.”

So said one of the concierges at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Hong Kong island, where we had just checked in after spending a couple of days in Macao (or Macau – both appear correct spellings) and a few more days across the harbor from Hong Kong island in Kowloon back in July.

The concierge was mostly right – shopping does seem to be the big draw in Hong Kong, with high end brands offered left and right in excess beyond compare. And while fashion – ranging from Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Versace, to Prada, Chanel, and Gucci – is ever present, even more rampant are jewelry (spelled locally as “jewellery”) stores. We thought Aruba’s dozens of jewelry stores were bad, but in Hong Kong shopping areas (which seems to be pretty much everywhere that tourists might wander), there are hundreds if not thousands of jewelry shops. Most numerous among those appear to be the chains of Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook, of which there are dozens on the so-called Golden Mile of Nathan Road, Kowloon-side.

And expensive watches from Rolex, Piaget, Patek Philippe, and a host of others are easily found at either their own stores, or any of the countless jewelry stores.

While we are certainly materialists and capitalists ourselves (my weakness being technology “toys” and kitchen equipment), the sheer materialistic excess we saw in Hong Kong was beyond comprehension.

And more interesting is that the primary wealthy consumer who comes to Hong Kong to shop for jewelry and name brand couture is Asian, frequently from mainland China, a communist country. I won’t even pretend to understand the sorts of economics that would allow someone from mainland China afford one or more $20,000 Rolex watches.

The other thing we found prevalent in Kowloon (but not Hong Kong island) were touts, typically all of Indian background, offering replica watches, like Rolexes and bespoke (custom, made to order) tailoring services. It was almost impossible to walk down Nathan Road without a dozen approaches for a custom suit or a knock off watch.

In any event, not being consumers of fashion and bling, we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. And we did. More on that in upcoming posts.

A small photo gallery is below. Click on the images to get slightly larger versions. Larger versions are on Flickr.

 

Is ‘Robert’ A Girl’s Name in Hong Kong?

July 18th, 2010 at 9:50 am (AST) by Jake Richter

I was looking through some of the photos I took in the last week here in Hong Kong, and found the one below, of a movie poster for “Eclipse”, the third film in the Twilight saga.

Gender Name Confusion in Hong Kong?

Gender Name Confusion in Hong Kong?

Either the actors now have new names, or someone creating the Chinese version of this movie poster hasn’t a clue about the gender of names like Robert and Kristen.

I shot a few other confused/amusing signs that I will try and dig up and post in the coming week or two.

 

The Peninsula – A Few Images

July 18th, 2010 at 4:53 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Before moving on to observations and photos of Kowloon and Hong Kong, I’d like to provide a few more photos of The Peninsula hotel we stayed in.

The Peninsula at night, with fountain

The Peninsula at night, with fountain

If you ever end up coming to Hong Kong, we can highly recommend that you spend at least a night or two at The Peninsula, and definitely splurge on a Harbour View room (see the previous post on why I think that).

Doorman at The Peninsula

Doorman at The Peninsula

Our room itself was large and comfortable, and quite quiet (with the exception of a loud neighbor one afternoon – but that was short lived). The view was exceptional, and the service quite good.

The Peninsula at night

The Peninsula at night

However, what really made our stay special was the Concierge staff, whom I peppered with dozens of questions about everything ranging from dining, street food, and public transportation, to markets, sight seeing, and getting a last minute table at the posh in-house French restaurant for only dessert one night. Most often it was Kandi at the Concierge desk who fell victim to my questions, and she handled all my queries wonderfully well.

Kandi - our most excellent concierge at The Peninsula

Kandi - our most excellent concierge at The Peninsula

The other thing The Peninsula is known for is their afternoon tea, but we didn’t find it to be anything extraordinary compared to other afternoon teas we have enjoyed around the world. However, being a guest at the hotel, you can get a table reserved for you – something that mere pikers off the street (and there are hundreds who wait in line for the afternoon tea) cannot get.

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

The lobby at The Peninsula

The lobby at The Peninsula

(For the record, the absolute best afternoon tea we have ever had was at the Amstel hotel in Amsterdam last October. It was a veritable tea tasting and feast, with seven different types of tea served and enough finger food for a small army. Maybe I’ll get a chance to post pictures of that at some point.)

 

Views of Hong Kong Across Victoria Harbour

July 18th, 2010 at 4:16 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Victoria Harbour, also known as Hong Kong Harbour, is an amazing place – both in terms of traffic and adjacent building density as well as in terms of sheer imagery. The harbor is a natural one, located between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula.

We had booked a Harbour View room at The Peninsula, which is located on the southern-most portion of Kowloon, and the view from our 25th floor room was certainly a sight to behold. In fact we spent several hours just sitting in chairs facing the harbor, watching the lights and boat traffic.

View from our room at The Peninsula, by day

View from our room at The Peninsula, by day

View from our room at The Peninsula, at night

View from our room at The Peninsula, at night

While the images above are just a portion of the entire view, below is a panorama stitched together from multiple shots. If you click on it you’ll go to Flickr where you can view the entire 7,389 pixel wide panorama. You can also click on the above images to see larger versions of those shots.

Panoramic view from our room at The Peninsula by day

Panoramic view from our room at The Peninsula by day

 

And We Continue to Be Spoiled…

July 17th, 2010 at 11:20 am (AST) by Jake Richter

We had booked our first five nights in Hong Kong at The Peninsula, rated one of the top hotels in the world. Part of the Fine Hotels and Resorts Package we booked through American Express Travel included complimentary airport transfers, a room upgrade, and afternoon tea for two at The Peninsula.

The airport transfers are extra special, however, as The Peninsula has the world’s largest fleet of Rolls Royce limousines, and that’s what you get chauffeured in from the airport on Lantau island to the hotel in the Tsim Shu Tsui section of Kowloon. But the service doesn’t start with the drive. As we deplaned, moderately well rested due to the comforts of our first class flight, we were greeted at the gate by someone holding a sign up with our names on it. He took our carry-on bags and rolled them to the immigration line (sadly, there was no shortcut or express lane for us there), while telling us about The Peninsula and answering any questions we had about Hong Kong.

After immigration we picked up our bags (which came off the conveyor belt quickly because they were priority tagged) and were brought past customs and then outside where our custom dark green Rolls Royce limo was waiting, along with Lee, our driver.

The Peninsula's Rolls Royce airport transfer at night with Lee driving

The Peninsula's Rolls Royce airport transfer at night with Lee driving

It was an incredibly smooth 25 minute ride to the hotel, where our luggage was whisked away and we were brought to our room by Tiffany, a delightful young Chinese woman, who checked us in while in our room (actually, our second room as the first was a bit smoky smelling). We ultimately ended up on the 25th floor, with a room overlooking Hong Kong island (more on the view later).

Daytime view of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

Daytime view of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

Our luggage gets loaded into the Rolls Royce limousine upon departure from The Peninsula

Our luggage gets loaded into the Rolls Royce limousine upon departure from The Peninsula

And, yesterday (Friday), we took advantage of the transfer in our package to have another Rolls Royce limousine drop us and our bags off at a hotel on Hong Kong island. The bags stayed and we continued on by ferry to Macau (which I hope to document in a future post).

Dennis drives us to our next adventure in Hong Kong in one of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

Dennis drives us to our next adventure in Hong Kong in one of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

We could definitely get used to being chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce limousine, but it’s not likely to happen on Bonaire or anywhere else on a regular basis, I think.

Linda the rock star

Linda the rock star

Jake's Rolls Royce self-portrait - can you smell the leather interior yet?

Jake's Rolls Royce self-portrait - can you smell the leather interior yet?