Sunday, September 23, 2007


Some of you may remember the Kingston Trio singing of poor ole Charlie - the man who never returned. Well, did he ever return? No, he never returned and his fate is still unknown. He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston. He's the man who never returned. The MTA song comes to mind when one is in the MTR system in Hong Kong - you could live down there!! There is more than enough shopping and dining, nice restrooms for grooming and maybe even a few spots to sleep. Well, maybe not.....but the MTR is very impressive. Think 21st century design, high technology systems, air-conditioned quiet running trains, and fare payment with the ubiquitous Octopus card.

The campus is about equidistant from the Lok Fu Station and the Kowloon Tong Station on the Green Line. There is a minibus that runs the circuit from campus to Kowloon Tong, but one must walk to the Lok Fu Station. The big draw of the Kowloon Tong Station is its proximity to the Festival Walk - be sure to check out the link and browse through the directory - I think you will be amazed at the names of the stores. The ride from Kowloon Tong to Central on the island takes about 20-25 minutes, and you can get most anyplace that you would need to go using the MTR.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


One part of the HKBU Orientation Program was a day-long city tour. A couple of the stops were at shopping markets, and since I am not much of a shopper, I wandered the surrounding areas a bit. On a quiet walkway along the bay, I noted a fellow wearing a BHP Billiton hat. I asked him if he worked for BHP, and yes, he was part of the home base office in Australia. This was my lead-in to ask him about BHP in Malibu - and for those of you not familiar with the saga, BHP has proposed an off-shore twenty story-high Liquified Natural Gas terminal that would loom on the ocean horizon off the coast of Malibu/Port Hueneme. He laughed and said that BHP was making enough money around the world that they did not have to bother fighting with the locals in Malibu about the LNG terminal. He gave me the hat, and advised me to invest in BHP!

Sunday, September 16, 2007



That was the exchange rate at the time of my first conversion of US$ to HK$. It takes some getting used to, seeing such big numbers on things like the Sunday South China Morning Post newspaper for $7.00, but then you remember, "Oh, that's less than a buck." So, I thought I would give a few examples of the cost of things in Hong Kong, in HK$ and approximate US$, starting with some items from the grocery stores Wellcome and Taste

Coca Cola 8-Pack HK$ 20.90 [$2.70]
Large Tub of Margerine - Ditto
Cola in Vending Machine HK$ 5.00 [$0.65]
Banana Bunch of 4-5 HK$ 4.30 [$0.55]
Five Plums HK$ 10.00 [$1.30]
Mickey D's Double Cheeseburger - Ditto
Loaf of Bread - Ditto
Four Oranges HK$ 11.80 [$1.50]
Mickey D's Soft Ice Cream Cone HK$ 2.50 [$0.33]
Big Box of Frosted Flakes HK$ 28.90 [$3.75]
Half Gallon of Soy Milk HK$ 19.90 [$2.55]
Note - Dairy Milk is Very Expensive
Medium Jar of Blackcurrant Jam HK$ 12.90 [$1.65]
Medium Peanut Butter HK$ 13.90 [$1.80]
Can of Potato Chips - Ditto
Large Crab & Crayfish on Rye HK$ 32.00 [$4.15]
Tsingtao 640ml Bottle HK$ 9.80 [$1.25]
Coffee & Tea - Free in the Hotel Room!

I will try to add some restaurant prices, but for now, suffice it to say - the places that serve traditional Chinese and Asian foods are quite reasonable and the Western restaurants are quite expensive. And if you are in the market for a nice car or home:

New Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder HK$ 3,430,000 [$439,000]
1999 Ferrari 360 Modena Coupe HK$ 1,240,000 [$160,000]
2006 Carrera HK$ 1,388,000 [$179,000]
1999 Subaru Legacy $78,000 [$10,000]
New Three Bedroom Apartment Home HK$ 16,000,000 [$2,000,000]
Seaview Lowrise HK$ 24,000,000 [$3,100,000]
Repulse Bay Highrise $31,800,000 [$4,100,000]
Victoria Peak Highrise HK$ 55,000,000 [$7,100,000]
Large Home High on Plantation Road $120,000,000 [$15,500,000]

Thus, most folks rent apartments and do not own cars.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I suggest that you begin by flying around the city on Google Maps. Hopefully, it will be zoomed in on the NTT Guest House, on the south end of the HKBU campus, just south and a bit west of the track. You can zoom out and look around the neighborhood and anywhere in the city you choose. If you zoom out a bit and move to the southeast, past the large park with sports fields, you will see a smaller park-like area. This is the area that was once the infamous Kowloon Walled City. And further to the southeast is the old Hong Kong Airport Kai Tak, which supposedly used to be one of the worst airports for landing commercial jetliners. At a recent international air trade fair, the Airbus A380 made two low passes over Victoria Harbour, and folks were saying that it was reminiscent of the Kai Tak days.

The View of Hong Kong Central from Atop Victoria Peak
Kowloon is Across the Bay

Some of the Residences at Repulse Bay

East Meets West
On the Boat Ride to the Floating Restaurant
One of the Two Student Residental Towers at HKBU

Thursday, September 06, 2007


To slighty change a John Denver lyric - It's a Long Way from LA to Hong Kong!! Thankfully, some favorable winds made our flight closer to 13 hours rather than the scheduled 15. And surprisingly, I did not feel any jet lag even though we are 15 hours "ahead" of Pacific Coast Time, 14 hours with Mountain time, and 12 hours with Indiana and Eastern Time. As some of you know, with the arrival of second grandbaby Noelle Paige, the kids close by in Denver, and a major remodel of our condo getting underway, Rhonda decided to stay in Boulder, but hopefully will make it some time during the semester. Folks are welcome to visit, but be forewarned that unlike Buenos Aires, we do not have any guest rooms to offer you - a discount at the NTT International Guest House on the campus of Hong Kong Baptist University is about all that I can offer. There are 23 Pepperdine students in the program, and they join 164 other international students representing 20 countries in the HKBU International Program. All 187 live in the campus highrise dorms with students from Hong Kong and Mainland China. I teach two classes that are open only to Pepperdine students, and the rest of their courses are regular HKBU classes. You may have recently heard about the 9 year old prodigy who is beginning his mathematics studies at HKBU this fall - haven't seen him around campus yet!

A few first impressions:
An important rule for survival - when you are ready to cross the steet, stop, look the direction you would normally look for traffic, and while still stopped, look the other direction. Otherwise you might get run over by the vehicles driving on the "wrong" side of the road. If you look at the driver to determine what they might be doing, and it looks like he/she might be sleeping - well it's because that person is the passenger! One bit of good news is that many crosswalks have signs painted on the street reminding you which way to look.

The streets and sidewalks are quite clean, and there is no 'dog dew dodging' as in Buenos Aires. I have seen a few stray dogs in the park, and very few being walked on the streets. There are fairly stiff fines for littering, and for jaywalking I believe.
The public transportation is great, with small buses making shorter runs on looping routes, and larger buses and the subway to get all over town. Also "subway" is not the subway, but rather is a pedestrian underpass. The underground train is the MTR, and it is very impressive.

All business and classes at HKBU are in English, and many in Hong Kong speak English, with the 'native' language being Cantonese. Many locals also speak Mandarin/Putonghua, and I have been told that you really only need to know about 2000-3000 characters to be able to read :-)
We were warned that it would be hot and humid, and we were not let down. However, it seems to have already begun to cool down a bit, and by October it is supposed to be pretty nice.

There are numerous basketball courts close by, and all of them have nice nets!
HK is truly one of the places where East meets West - Porsche drivers stopping by the temple to burn incense, high-rise construction cranes surrounded by high-rise bamboo scaffolding, elevators without a 4 button because of the negative connotations of the number four, McDonald's next to hot pot and dim sum, 7-11 and Circle K next to the wet market, vintage Glen Campbell hits playing in the hallways of the Dr. Ng Tor Tai Guesthouse Hotel, and on and on......

Home Away From Home - the NTT Guesthouse Hotel

The Living Room - Nice TV!

The Bedroom and Office

The View from the Hotel
This is looking almost straight south on a nice clear day. The University is on the Kowloon Peninsula, and the high rise buildings in the foreground are on Kowloon, and the buildings and mountains in the distance are on Hong Kong Island. The tallest building in Hong Kong is on the island, and is close to the middle of this picture. Here is a map for "orientation" - the University campus is just south of Beacon Hill.