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.

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