Thursday, December 8, 2011


Rick Santorum will not be president. Greg Maddux was a good pitcher. Missouri is a horrible place. Only assholes wear stocking caps when it's warm. Communism didn't work. I've been on a lot of trips. You know all of these things already.

Some trips involve setting off to new places, crossing the unknown void. Some trips go backwards, retrace old steps, and prove that you can go home again, or you can't, whatever "home" may happen to be. Sometimes, like last week, a person such as me can get lucky and follow both paths. I headed off to Hong Kong and the Philippines, two somewhat known quantities for me, and in both spots I strived to check out uncharted territory while returning to old haunts. Both the road less traveled and the superhighway lead me in directions I never expected.

Enough. On to the reason you're here - cool pics of cool places.

The Harbourplace Mall entrance in Kowloon, Hong Kong. These are just figurines, they don't move or talk or anything. I have no idea why it draws such a crowd.

Jollibee in Kongers! The Pinoys are here and they're selling Champ Burgers!

I.M. Pei's Bank of China Building is the one on the left. Easily my favorite Hong Kong skyscraper.

Night View from Victoria Peak. I never made it to The Peak on my first trip to Hong Kong, even though I was there for four nights. No clue why, really, it's pretty much the most famous sight in town. Getting there was easy, no line for the tram on the way up. Getting back down was more difficult. There was a massive line. The line was only made worse by the fact that the Chinese (likely Mainlanders, I doubt many locals go to such a touristy spot) cut in line like crazy. This was a common occurrence everywhere I went in Hong Kong. It seems the Brits didn't impart any of their love of queuing to the locals.

The Koreans are here, and they're selling food with hilarious vaguely racist signs.

My crappy guesthouse room my first night. This was far and away my most expensive hotel room of the trip. The computer monitor there was the TV, and one of the 14 channels I got was a CCTV feed for the building. It was oddly hypnotic, watching random strangers ride the elevator and walk through the hall in real time.

One of the nerdy skyscraper websites that I frequent ranks the Hong Kong skyline at number one in the world, and Chicago at two. I may agree. HK is the only city that may, may have a better skyline than Chi-town, at least that I've seen.

The south end of Nathan Road in Kowloon. Nathan Road is a pretty amazing place. Hong Kong calls itself "Asia's World City," and I really can't argue. Nathan Road feels like New York or London - every nationality seems represented. The number of languages overheard while walking a block is mind boggling. The road is home to some of the world's finest hotels, and some of the world's worst.

Signs overhang the road all over the place in Hong Kong, particularly in Kowloon. From the second deck on a two-level bus, they really scream.

My second night in Hong Kong, one week after the first. This is a view from the Star Ferry, the best 25 cent public transit option in the world.

The gate to Temple Street Night Market.

Chinese knock-off Legos for sale at Temple Market.

More large overhanging signs.

Japan gets all the press for this, but I guess Hong Kong also gets A List Hollywood celebs doing ads. I feel like Korea kinda gets cheated in this regard.

Hong Kong is a great city, but it can be pretty lonely on your own. It probably didn't help that I was pretty much permanently hungover while I was there. Fortunately, I spent most of my trip in the much friendlier islands of the Philippines.

Alona Beach in Panglao, an island off Bohol. This was my first trip to Bohol, so it was cool to check out a new island or two. It was as hot as it looks.

Alona Beach.

A wider view of Alona.

Alona sunset. Sure, it's no Boracay sunset on a south-facing beach, but it wasn't without its charms.

A final look at Alona.

Robinson's Mall in Dumaguete. Strangely, the Robinson's in Duma is far nicer than the dump of a Robinson's in Cebu, though Cebu is a much larger city.

Pura Vida resort in Dauin, just outside of Dumaguete. Here's what I did that day in Dauin: Nothing. It was awesome.

Looking out at the dive boats along the beach at Dauin. I would have gone diving, but that would have required leaving the lounge chair. Who needs that?

Boats at the little wharf to the north of Dumaguete when I headed back to Cebu.

I took the bus to Cebu. That's it, on the left. It needed a little help from this rickety ferry to get to Cebu Island.

C'mon, like I wasn't going to finish with hilarious Engrish? I saw this sign near the Peak in Hong Kong. I still have no idea what it means.

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