Thursday, October 05, 2006


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What a wonderful day... Autumn is definitely a good time to visit Taiwan. There’s hardly any rain, and the breaks between the occasional drizzle reveal blue skies above the cloud cover. The proximity of the hotel to the Motorola office affords a nice (although at a moderately brisk pace for my impatient soul) stroll through central Taipei, beneath the looming presence of Taipei 101. The structure dominates the landscape, a behemoth monument in the shape of a bolt of lightning standing over 400 meters tall dwarfing the buildings around it. Nothing nearby comes close in height. The observation deck is usually covered in clouds, swaying with the strong breeze.
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But back to our intrepid explorer far below… coping with three and a half hours of sleep, working around the clock for the past few days dealing with buggy software and incredibly aggressive schedules, he uses this weekday morning ten minute walk to get some fresh air and take a break from the hectic regional demands…
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For some reason this morning, I decide to navigate to the folder on my trusty iRiver labeled “VOICE” and surprise myself with some recordings from a Rondalla practice session months ago that I had forgotten to offload. Listening to the multiple takes and occasional laughs, the missed cues and erroneous notes, I find myself, remembering how big the LIKHA Rondalla was – is a part of my life. It was easy for me to forget how those weekly Friday night rituals of food, friendship and music always seemed to be just the fitting end I (and I’m sure others) needed to cap the rigors of a hectic work week. As a horde of scooters roars away from the plethora of yellow cabs in front of me, I hope that one of these days I figure out that ever-so-elusive balance that lets me enjoy even just one more night with my old wacky musical compatriots…

But I digress.

Mongkok - Numbers
Taiwan is just the second leg of this two-and-a-half week revisit to Asia, and so far it’s been quite a busy effort. But I’m grateful that a weekend in Hong Kong afforded me a half day of downtime to put on my trusty Saucony running shoes, backpack in tow, and explore this crowded harbor city on the edge of Kowloon bay.
Dense... If I had only one word to describe this place, that would be it. 70 story apartment buildings are the norm, crowding the skyline with vertical structures of glass, steel and concrete. The town is much more westernized than I had expected; odds are in your favor that you’ll run into someone who speaks English. And in tourist-ridden Lang Kwai Fung, you’ll be hard pressed to find an Asian face in the overpriced bars and restaurants – $120HKD for 3 bottles of San Miguel beer!!! A far cry from the P22 bottles at the 7-Eleven in Rizal...
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Navigating the streets of the Hong Kong island side of the city proved difficult (and often dangerous) with the combination of left-side driving and streets that (due to the edge-of-a-hillside topology) were forced into a non-grid layout. The Filipino presence here is quite strong; but interestingly almost all women…On one of my strolls I found myself lost in a mall where literally a hundred Filipina women were sitting on the railing, chatting, relaxing, and eating Filipino food. The mall was peppered with remittance shops and Filipino stores selling such goodies like chicharon, palabok, adobo, etc. And amidst all the 5 foot and under (and honestly quite fresh off the boat) women was this severely out of place gap-shirt-wearing overweight and obviously-tourist guy that looked like a Mexican.

Anyways, while riding along the world’s longest escalator, I happened to stumble upon an interesting landmark:
The Kowloon side (where the hotel was) is much more scenic, with a dramatic view of the Hong Kong skyline and Kowloon bay. The 15 minute ferry ride between the two islands was extremely cheap, at $2.20HKD and very scenic. But bring your seasick pills for the choppy ride across the bay. Traffic was a nightmare, so take the subway whenever you can. And I was disappointed with the food…maybe I was hoping for less westernized tastes, and cheaper menus. One highlight though was the duck tongue, a really interesting experience. The best part though was the look on my boss’s face when the dish came out. Slightly slimy with lots of bone and cartilage, it actually turned out to be quite good.
Mongkok - Dinner
All in all, I definitely need to revisit Hong Kong on a personal non-work visit. Heck, I need to go visit all of China on a vacation! There’s so many places I’d love to see out here. Like Gangjin. And supposedly there’s a 10-story statue of Buddha on Lantau island that you can see from the plane.
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At 10/05/2006 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahhh..the wonders and pleasures of traveling. one day, i hope to see more of asia. for now, i'll have to settle for exploring the caribbean islands. glad to read you're doing well. btw, how did the duck tongue taste? did they have a bit of a crunch to them due to the cartilage?


At 10/05/2006 10:23 PM, Blogger DJ John said...

Duck tongue? You really do live life to the fullest... stomach that is! We'll miss you saturday night!

At 10/06/2006 1:47 PM, Blogger oj_rokk said...



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