First thing you recognize in Hong Kong is left-hand traffic. But you are reminded at almost every crosswalk: “Look Right!”. Obviously, this is not astonishing at all as they were British until 12 years ago.
Something else, which you’ll inevitably run into and which is quite unusual (but not unique though) is that three banks are licensed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for issuing Hong Kong Dollar bank notes. So don’t wonder once you have three different looking 20-Dollar notes in your purse. Also remarkable is the Ten-Dollar polymer note.
However, what amazed me most is the Octopus Card. Initially, I perceived it as an RFID card for prepaid public transit payment (similar to the Breeze Card of MARTA in Atlanta, GA). But it turned out that this card is also widely accepted at grocery and convenience stores, coffee shops and even restaurants. So this card became a very convenient payment method–the most convenient I experienced so far. The idea is similar to the Quick system in Austria, but since the Octopus is contactless, it is way more practical.
In general, Hong Kong is very much a western city. All the American chains are there, huge flagship stores of Europe’s and America’s most exclusive fashion brands are marking the city center. One will definitely smell the sea. It is very easy to get along with English only. And of course all the skyscrapers that are shaping one of the world’s most astonishing skyline.
So says an ancient Chinese proverb. My train trip to Munich worked out quite well–the train arrived only ten minutes delayed. However, it was enough for missing the connecting train to the airport. I decided to spend the waiting time at–guess where.
Three stations before I reached the airport, it turned out that somebody committed suicide by jumping on the track. The DB (who runs the trains in Munich) was not able to come up with an adequate solution. They didn’t manage to install buses; people started to call cabs. Furthermore, this event far out of the city center caused a break down of the entire train net. My favorite announcement of the train conductor after several complaints is “It’s not the DB’s fault that somebody jumps on the rail”. There are two trains running to the airport; east and west. Luckily, I scheduled enough extra time. After all, it took me about four hours to get to the airport, instead of the planned 45.
The rest of the journey was very relaxed. At the airport in Munich I had still enough time to walk around the Christmas market. Yes, seriously, there is a Christmas market at the airport :). The flight was perfectly ok–I absolutely can recommend Lufthansa. Sunrise was somewhere above Kyrgyzstan. Later on, we passed the Taklamakan Desert. George picked me up at the airport in Hong Kong.
Tomorrow I leave for an almost two week journey to Hong Kong to meet an Emory colleague. What a pleasure! This trip also gives me the chance to reunite with a former JKU exchange student. Maybe I have the chance to meet Austrian exchange students too!