Friday, February 19, 2010

Last Day in HK


The weather remains cold, grey, and very damp. The temperature, down to the mid 40's at night, seems like a laughable winter challenge for a New Yorker, but the humidity at 80-90% chills to the bone. Has not dampened our spirits one bit, and our last day was as good or better than most.

Although some shops and galleries remain closed for the holiday, HK is mostly back to full swing. The malls are packed (sales still on !), and drivers whoosh by us as we walk along major and minor thoroughfares. Based on observation---though not analysis---Hong Kong has the highest per capita ownership of Mercedes in the world. (Dubai beats them on the Porsche index, however.)

Though a bit thin on the 'high arts' such as symphony, opera (Western), dance, theater, and so forth, Hong Kong is beginning to change. A friend (native HK) I had lunch with yesterday, who is active in the experimental music/new media world here, told me that the arts scene is quite active and diverse but needs to be ferreted out more carefully than in NYC. Jase and I spent most of our 'arts' time in the galleries, which did not overly impress. Major new art spaces opening up in the eastern sector of Hong Kong Island, in the old warehouse district. Lots more to come as years unfold, I am sure.

Many good memories from this trip. Aside from a few business meetings and phone conferences we each had scheduled, there was a lot of unstructured time for roaming, shopping, eating, and other activities..... Hong Kong is one of about a half dozen world class cities we have enjoyed---in the same rank as London, Paris, Tokyo, and New York, of course. What I think I most enjoy about HK is the side-by-side juxtaposition of the old and the new, in terms of architecture and development, the harbor, temples tucked inside parks in the middle of downtown office complexes, traditional shops and craftspeople and lower to middle class residence towers just blocks away from gleaming new 80 story banks and commercial centers. The public accommodations are, in a word, superb. Efficient low cost subways, inexpensive taxi and bus service, a completely modern airport services by high speed rail 15 minutes from the center. Etc etc etc. OK, fine, this is a relatively small self-contained city, so easier to develop and execute master plans. There's even a fairly raucous democracy and autonomous self-government---up to a point, of course.

We'll be back. Jase has a work in preview at Christie's this May, so would be a good time for us to reconnect here again.

The evening was capped off by our best meal in HK, perhaps among my best Chinese meals ever. The Crystal Jade in the IFC Mall---Shanghainese cuisine at its best. I have been a big fan of Shanghai soup dumplings from the first time I tried them from a street vendor in Shanghai a few springs ago. Friday night, we feasted on three different types of vegetable and pork dumplings, the dough so tender that the dumpling literally melted in your mouth. A cool sesame noodle dish, shrimp lightly fried in egg yolk, and finished with black sesame stuffed dough balls floating in a pool of warm honey ginger soup. My mouth still watering as I write. Total tab for two: $39.

Anybody care to join me on my next trip?

We celebrated Jase's bday a few days early with some amazing creme filled maccaroons after dinner---lemon, chocolate, olive oil (trust me, awesome!), rose-flavored, and others. Then off to bed for an early wake up and to the airport for morning flights home.

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