Friday, April 01, 2005

Day 2 continued...

After my unexpected meeting with Michael I went out to explore the town. The first stop was Sogo, a staggeringly vast department store. I initially just followed the crowd of people into the store. The crowd got me onto the escalator. After coming up the escalator I found a huge floor of designer stuff to buy and another escalator to go up. So I did a little experiment and started to go up the escalators. This place has like 8 floors, and large floors at that. Its insane. Who needs all this crap? On one floor there were demonstrations of pots and pans with people dressed up as chefs cooking food inside the department store.

After finally taking the escalator and getting back to ground level I headed off to get my Chinese Visa. The first China Travel Service office basically told me that because I have an American passport they will not be able to do the job in any reasonable amount of time and sent me to a different office. I arrived at that office and after some difficulties in explaining to them what exactly "Islamic Studies" involves as a major they took my passport along with $HK 650 (a bloody rip-off if there was one!!! Everybody else gets this done for under 400. the chinese are apparently countering some american move (probably a $100 fee for applications for a US visa for Chinese citizens) which in my opinion is rather stupid. I think the americans should counter the counter and slap a trade duty on chinese goods). Anyways, I will get the passport back on monday which has the unfortunate side-effect of grounding me in Hong Kong until that day. So I will have to find a way to entertain myself for the next 3 days in HK... Now I need to find a travel agent who can book air tickets for me...

I went over to Kowloon which is supposed to be the less touristy part of Hong Kong. Its definately much grungier than HK island, and I hoped to find some nice cheap Rolexes... At the same time I had the opportunity to take pictures of HK island from across the river. Then I went in search of cheap knock-offs but alas I ran out of time because I had to come back to Causeway Bay for my appointment. After I arrived back at the hostel I was informed about where I should have been looking for the knock-offs. I like a fool thought that the Lonely Planet would be accurate, but it unfortunately is probably a bit out of date. The areas it suggested for good cheap shopping are now either trendy or seem like industrial backroads. In either case no bargains were to be found on them.

Oh yeah I forgot to mention. Yesterday I scheduled an appointment for today at the eyeglasses store. The purpose of this was to learn how to put in contact lenses. So full of fear I showed up, sat down and prepared to endure the pain. Initially this was excrutiating because I hate touching my eye. After taking about an hour to put on and take off the contact lenses a couple of times I think I can do so at will in about half an hour of torture. So tomorrow I will get my contact lenses along with my eyeglasses.

Tomorrow I will have contact lenses. Now in regards to my physical appearance I face a new very serious problem. Its been almost four days since the last time I shaved my head. I must find a way to shave my head soon, however electric shavers do not seem to be common in Hong Kong. I don't know whether thats because Asian men don't have the same facial hair growth as white people, but in any case I MUST find an electric shaver. I am almost considering asking the next guy with a shaved head about where he had this done.

Anyways, I am off to take the ferry across to Kowloon and take some pics of HK island from there.



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