Hong Kong: 4th Trip, May/June 2002

Take me to the watches please, skipping the tourist's part of the report

Dear All

I just returned from my 4th trip to Hong Kong this year. Please excuse the quality of the watch shots. I took the chance of good light yesterday afternoon to shoot the watches without tripod and proper stage in my hotel room yesterday in order to speed up the posting of this report. As one says, nothing is older then a newspaper from yesterday.
This is the first time I have been carrying my digital camera to Hong Kong, I do not really know, why I never carried it before, I really enjoyed taking the pictures and I hope you will enjoy them too.

This is the Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel at Canton Road on the Kowloon Side of Hong Kong. From the second picture with the light house and the Museum of Art you can see, that the hotel is almost located at the Harbour. This was the Hong Kong Hotel before the Marco Polo Group acquired it, and I am quite sure, it was actually at the Harbour front in the old times.

The Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel, the largest of 3 hotels of the same group, located in the same big shopping mall with more then 700 shops, the Ocean Terminal in Kowloon

I just turned left from the position of the previous picture, you can see the Light House next to the Museum of Art. The other buildings are on the Hong Kong Island, on the other side of the ever shrinking Harbour.

Almost every building in China is guarded by two lions against evil spirits. Can you guess which one is the male and which one is the Lion mother? Of course you can cheat and check the URL, but take a few moments and think whether you can figure it out by yourself. Of course my Asian friends from PMWF (liow, diveluvR) are excluded from this little quiz, since they know for sure :-)

Male or female lion?

The solution is at the end of the report, so you can continue to puzzle :-)

This is a detail of a wooden relief panel found everywhere in the Marco Polo Hotels. I have admired them so many times, I just had to add this picture here. The panels are quite large, probably around 1.5 by 2 meters.

Detail of a wooden panel in the Marco Polo Hong Kong lobby

This is one of the busiest side roads in Kowloon: Haiphong Street. Although I do try to avoid those crowded roads, this one is close to the great Kowloon Park, the nicest retreat from the noise and crowd you could wish. Traffic light at the end of the road is already located at Nathan Road, the most famous shopping road of Hong Kong, where the shelves almost burst under the load of electronics, cameras, fashion and high-end watches.

Haiphong Road, South of Kowloon Park

This is not the season for extensive strolls, the weather in Hong Kong is perfect from October to March, and then it is getting really hot. Luckily I always seem to attract rain and storms, thus the weather during this trip was great and the temperatures were only around 27 degrees Celsius, humidity 82%, quite low for end of May, beginning of June. In June and July it is very hot and very humid. And the biggest risks in my eyes are the big changes from the ice cold restaurants to the outside. I tend to sweat quite a bit, so during this hot season I will eat even more vitamins and healthy food in order to be prepared for all those extreme temperature changes.

The busy Shanghai street

A side street of Shanghai Street in Mongkok where construction never ends

Mongkok is crowded, the air is quite dirty, construction never seem to come to a halt here and cars and pedestrians fight for priority in the streets. Enough of whining about extreme climates, now it is time to go back to the nicely airconditioned hotel room and now it is time to play with the new watches and takes some pictures! I did not bring a tripod nor reflector cards, so I simply used the club table of the hotel room to take a couple of first shots.

Top row: left to right: Orient Star Power reserve with display back, Orient Vintage Diver from the 80ies
Bottom row: 3 Seiko 5 Sports 70ies reissues, all manufactured in 1997

This time for the first time I am planning to sell these watches. I did not find any watches that would have complemented my collection. But I found those watches too irresistible and could not pass and I am thinking of selling them with a small profit online.

Orient Star Power Reserve with display back, button at 2 o'clock quick sets date

I have an eggshell colored identical watch in my collection already. I was surprised to see how elegant the white dial looked. There are two things only to criticize: the date window is relatively small and the gap to the date wheel relatively big and the power reserve indicator should be at the logo's position. Besides that, you get one of the best power reserve watches for the money and the bracelet is really outstanding in this price leaguee. Solid links and very nicely finished. The movement is from Seiko, but so far, I could never find a movement designation.

This Orient Diver is from the 80ies, a nicely colored inner turning bezel, the button at 2 o'clock is to quick set the week day, the dial is changing from light to darker gold brown tones depending on the viewing angle and light

Brandon's "Anniversary Watch", at least for the year 2002 :-) a really funky Seiko 5 Sports from the 70ies reissued 1997, movement is 7S36, the 23 jewel variant of the 7S26

A similar version with square markers and an black/orange inner bezel, movement 7S36, also manufactured in 1997

No, no, there is no Bordeaux red color on the bezel, that is the hotel chair's reflection which served as tripod. This is a black face Seiko 5 Sports reissue, also manufactured in 1997

Hong Kong's economy is not really booming right now. Thus the shop owners of small shops are happy for each customer. Hong Kong is also having fiscal income problems as of 2001. The real estate taxes contributed 27% during the booming late 90ies, that percentage of fiscal income dropped to around 4%. That leaves a big hole in the city's pocket. Unemployment is raising again, after it looked as if 2002 would bring some recovery. The government urges the private sector to help educating and schooling people especially in the IT sector. There are thousands of qualified IT personnel missing in Hong Kong, yet the city has not managed to provide the educational infrastructure that would produce those dearly needed people.

Despite all those problems, Hong Kong is an exciting town and the Hongkees are mostly very friendly people. Service in Hong Kong's gastronomy is very polite. Eating is "national sport". The choice of restaurants is great, also the variety of nationalities covered is countless. One of the newer trends is Nepalese cuisine, there are already a couple of restaurants near Lang Kwei Fong, the expats night spot of choice.

Sushi: Soja sauce with Wasabi, Tuna and Salmon with sticky rice bed, Japanese raw vegetable. This was just the starter of Friday's lunch. Then I went to India (Curry, Naan bread) and then I had to stop and to be reasonable. The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet for USD 16 had really a tremendous food selection, to be found at Marco Polo Prince Hotel in Ocean Terminal

Despite the dense population, you can always find a vacant public tennis court for example. The Urban Council does a great job providing lots of inexpensive facilities, trails, parks and other recreational options. Yet the "Pearl of Asia" has to be careful not to lose too much ground, because Beijing is favoring Shanghai immensely to become the hub of South Western China.

This is the internet cafe I am normally using to check on PMWF during my Hong Kong stays, the middle machine is out of order, the mouse button on the right most machine is almost gone and the left PC has Chinese Windows installed. Good, that the command short cuts are Latin Characters at least

I will be traveling to Hong Kong again. I have been in Hong Kong since 1990, I really love this city. While living in Thailand, the much better infrastructure and much better developed business culture is always a welcome wallpaper change. And I am not even talking about watch hunting :-)

Hope you enjoyed the trip too :-)

Reto, Bangkok, June 4th 2002

Solution from lion quiz 
The first lion figure is the mother, she is protecting her cub with the paw. The second lion is the father, he is more interested in playing ball, no wonder, the Soccer World Cup 2002 is held in Asia for the first time and has just started :-)
By the way, this representation of the lion's gender is very consistent in Chinese culture and not only valid for the two depicted bronze lions. Check out those stone lions at your favorite Chinese restaurant next time.