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Hong Kong

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I. What were your impressions of Hong Kong/Bangkok, including standard of living, infrastructure, environment, pace of life, quality of retail stores, quality of hotels, service, food, etc.?

Hong Kong

My father grew up in Hong Kong and had been back a few times since moving to the United States. Before I left for my trip, he suggested to me that I try as much of the food as possible, to enjoy the scenery, and to interact as best as I could with the locals. I did just that and have found myself having such a great time. Hong Kong was an amazing city! Life is fast-paced and bustling with the seven million people crammed onto the island. I was impressed with the majestic harbor, the curvy roads that weaved throughout the city, and the skyscrapers that dotted the hillsides. It astonished me the number of parks that we found and the people that used them for recreation or to enjoy the mild weather. The Chinese people are dutifully religious with the number of temples built. Different modes of transportation were abundant with a sea of red and white taxis, the underground trains, and the double decker buses.

Hong Kong is definitely a city that is about making money and spending it. The standard of living is similar to being in London which is one of the most expensive in the world. Real estate prices are through the roof. I remember seeing a listing for a flat near downtown for 300 million HK dollars. Most other properties were priced similarly. Shops and malls were plentiful and filled with quality goods made by the top designers from around the globe. Everyone wanted a piece of the action. Sometimes you might see the same luxury shop at every other corner. Beautiful import cars, such as Lamborghinis and Maseratis flooded the streets. I made a comment to a friend that in Chicago you might see one of these cars once a year. Most necessities and general goods, however, were priced similar to what you would find in the States. You could find cameras, stereos, and other electronics at a discount, especially last year's models.

Restaurant options were plentiful. There were even a number of Western restaurants that we were familiar with. Most had menus with hundreds of items from steamed to stir-fry dishes. For the most part, we had the Cantonese style of Chinese food. We actually asked our waiter for suggestions and had him determine what the appropriate number of entrees would be for our party size. My favorite meal was when six of my peers and I went to Yuen Kee, a Michelin Star rated restaurant, for their roasted duck with a delicious honey sauce. With the number of plates that we had ordered, we had an exquisite meal for less than $30 a head. By sharing our plates, we had cheaper meals and were able to try a lot more. Another one of my favorites dining experiences was when we went to Lamma Island and tried out Rainbow Restaurant. It was great to see the variety of seafood fresh and available to be prepared for our meal.

Environmentally, I was impressed with how clean the city was. There wasn't trash in the streets and the people had pride in Hong Kong. The quality of the hotel was decent. They always had new towels and sheets and the rooms were cleaned daily. I was shocked to learn the price of a room a night, especially with its proximity to so much downtown. The service at the hotel was always consistent and prompt. At the same time, their genuineness almost felt a little forced. It was their version of Minnesota nice.

There were a number of places that we had visited many evenings. I was impressed with how busy Lan Kwai Fong and Times Square were and the variety of pubs and restaurants. I also enjoyed SoHo as it was a change of pace and a little quieter. It appeared that they had a number of more unique and pricier dining options.

All in all, Hong Kong was my favorite city to visit with its modern comforts, world class entertainment, and attractions.


Quite honestly, I didn't know much about Bangkok before the trip. I had not done much research ahead of time. What appealed to me was the mysticism of this city in a far-away land. What I knew about Bangkok was from the movies and word-of-mouth. In the most recent Hangover II movie, they portrayed Bangkok as being run-down and extremely dirty. This was the furthest from the truth. I was not expecting the number of developments in the downtown area. It almost appeared that a large number of skyscrapers, hotels, and commercial properties had sprung up overnight. Interestingly enough, each of the hotels seemed to have their own version of a "sky bar."

The infrastructure of Bangkok was horrible. The lack of arterial roads into and out of the city made for extremely, grueling and long journeys. As many of our meetings were in the outskirts of Bangkok, the trip was more bearable with the air-conditional coach bus. Poorly situated stop lights and the lack of stop signs made it difficult for pedestrians to cross the streets. For modes of public transportation, there was one train and bountiful numbers of taxis to take us around the city.

In this tourism centric city, there were a wide range of hotel options in the country to serve the entire spectrum of clients. The quality of service and amenities were much nicer at the higher price points. I was incredibly impressed with the Dusit Thani in Bangkok. The staff at the hotel aimed to please. They were both welcoming and patient with any and all requests. The landscaping in the courtyard to the details in the room was indicative of a more luxurious establishment. I compare this hotel to an Intercontinental hotel.

Thai food was delicious. There was a greater complexity in taste with the added chili peppers and the acidity from the lime juice. I just had to remember to remove some of the peppers from some of the hotter dishes or to make sure to have plenty of steamed rice at my side. It was also great to walk down the street and smell the basil, coconut milk, lemon grass, and nutmeg in the air. Seafood entrees were plentiful on many of the menus. My favorite seafood dish had to be the green lipped mussels in a lemon grass broth. Rice and noodle dishes were a staple of many menus and delicious regardless of what the chefs had added. I was not as adventurous of some of my peers, but I did notice that some of them having bags of crickets as a snack.

Shopping was always an experience in Bangkok as you're constantly negotiating. Besides at the major department stores or luxury outlets, no prices were ever set in stone. Everything seemed to be fairly priced, but there is truth in the adage that "you get what you pay for." The quality of the items was subpar.

The Thais are very proud of their history and their royalty. This



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