Busy Weekend day 2
The second half of our busy weekend will take us on a short journey to Hong Kong where the intention is to purchase an Ipad 2. I had the opportunity to mess around with a friends recently and I believe I can use this in my work as a portable sketch pad / presentation tool. I currently have two main working setups the first is of course my main studio back in the states where I occupy the entire living room of the house. Since space is not an issue in addition to my traditional analog equipment I have 2 loaded G5 mac towers, 2 large monitors a 20WSX Cintiq and assorted scanners printers etc…
The portable studio must sacrifice both comfort and power for the ability to fit inside traveling bags. When I am out of the country I work using my 17″ macbook pro laptop, Cintiq and small external drives for storage. The Imac you see there was brought over for Fanny and doesn’t travel.
The portable set up works well, but when on the laptop I must alter my working style to compensate for lack of crunching power.The biggest issue I have is the size of my Cintiq drawing tablet. Over the last 4 years I have come to love working on it and really don’t want to do without. That being said the Cintiq weighs around 25 pounds and pretty much fills a suitcase which means my ability to move it is limited. I have been trying to come up with ways to get around this issue, easiest might be to just buy a second Cintiq as mine is now pretty old. Unfortunately right now I cant justify spending another $2,500 having just purchased a new tower and large 42″ printer.
The Ipad 2 will not be a true replacement for my Cintiq as it has no pressure sensitivity but after a few hours playing with Andrew’s I am confident I can get good results. The Ipad 2 comes in a number of options both with Wi Fi and Wi Fi + 3G. The base model has 16 GB of internal memory going up to 64 GB. I will follow the standard I use with all my tech purchases and buy the mid range model. In this case that means the 32 GB Wi Fi + 3G. An interesting point is that by buying it here is Asia it will be unlocked from the start and as we intend to purchase in HK there will be no sales tax.
Our journey begins with the decision to have our hair washed and in my case trimmed as I am looking a bit shaggy. This will be the third time I have had a haircut in China and I have to say it is a really great experience, much different than what I normally have in the states. I suppose this is because I tend to just go to a local barber as opposed to a spa. Fanny likes the more pampered approach and who am I to argue. After a 5 min walk to the shop we are ushered inside; no waiting here, to the hair washing area.
This is the 2nd time we have come to this spa. We like it as the staff is friendly and the environment clean and warm. This time they bring us upstairs to another area this place is bigger than it looks and seems to be doing good business.
Today we have two young guys washing the hair and providing a nice scalp massage. I would say that Chinese people definitely understand the connection between therapeutic touch and physical health. There are many ways for a person to easily and quickly get a massage here for a very reasonable price. Sometimes the shops are just a hole in the wall but you will see people getting their feet rubbed back and shoulders massaged at almost any time of the day. As part of the hair service they will wash your hair twice while giving a scalp massage. When thats done you receive a neck shoulder and back massage before being sent to the chair for your styling. Not bad for around the same price as a standard haircut in the states.
I attempt to use my new mandarin ability to ask the guy what his name is I am greeted with mixed success but I do find out he shares his name with Bruce Lee ( Xiao Long = little (small) dragon )
Refreshed and less shaggy we board the bus and head towards the Shenzhen Hong Kong border. Since we are not going to be bringing much back with us we will not be using the more expensive limo service ” mini van ” but instead travel to Hong Kong on a big commuter bus. The price is much less, 45 RMB around $8 US apiece but we must exit the vehicle to go through customs on both sides of the border so definitely not my choice when carrying luggage.
After getting through Chinese customs which is about as much fun as in the states, we sit down for our trip to Hong Kong which will take around 45 min. The bus is comfortable enough although a bit noisy as for some reason mainland Chinese people like to share their cell phone conversations with everyone around them…
The trip to Hong Kong is uneventful and after being deposited on the street we make our way to the Metro one of my favorite places in HK. Up ahead you will see a stand where one can exchange foreign currency for HK dollars. We don’t need this today as we took care of this inside the customs area. This was a good choice as we got a better exchange rate then they offer here.
The Metro in HK is obviously older then what you find on the mainland but it is in good repair clean and efficient although from what I understand its fare price is the cause of much debate here. I believe it is costing us around 2 US dollars apiece to go only 4 stations thats a bit pricey for Asia.
I know the color is pretty intense but I guess I suppose I like it for that reason. I am sure whoever got the contract to supply all these little ceramic tiles is doing quite well for themselves… the colors change depending on which station you are in.
Our destination is the Apple Store inside the IFC mall,this is Apples first store here in Hong Kong we are hoping to find what we are looking for but Fanny has found alternative places to check if they are sold out. This is a real possibility considering the popularity of Ipad 2 and the mainland Chinese’s love of shopping. On our way inside we spy an interesting phenomenon of Hong Kong, Filipino household workers enjoying their one day off a week. Hong Kong allows a large number of these women to come and work for a 2 year contract as domestic help. They get Sunday off and its normal to see large groups of them gathered together socializing. They tend to clump into little groups where they can relax together to eat and drink. This group is in the common area right outside the mall entrance. I especially like full bottles of wine not something you would see in the states.
This is a shot of the store before it opened taken from another website but as you will see from my pics you can’t really appreciate how nice the store is because it is so crowded, suffering from their success…
Inside the store enjoys a nice view of the outside from both floors must be a really nice visual at night.
Its obvious that Apple is doing quite well here.
In a moment we will flag down someone to help us. I don’t see any desktop computers on display I suppose most people are interested in the hand held devices now.
We are happy to find that the unit we want is in stock and available so there will be no need to go to other stores. I decide to go ahead and purchase the apple care protection plan as well as one of the neat new protective covers apple has designed for the Ipad. All together this is a pricey item, I know for myself I can use it in my work which makes it somewhat justifiable but for most people this is still just a toy…
Below you can see the receipt in HK dollars which when converted to US is around 890.00 dollars. Of course this is not so bad when you consider that without tax the same unit would cost me $880.00 in the US and I don’t have to lock myself into a carrier.
As we exit we find more off duty Fillipina these have gone so far as to erect little walled off areas fro their group using cardboard boxes. They are completely relaxed; shoes off, using laptops and cell phones, eating or drinking while playing a variety of what must be gambling games. I know there is a similar situation in Taiwan also with workers from the Philippines but I didn’t see so many there as here.
The metro is a bit more crowded now as you can see the train is pretty much full and all those people will be getting on including us of course.
Out on the street we head towards our other destination here in HK today one of Fanny’s favorite places to eat here the Australia Dairy Company, its extremely popular and will make a nice place to have lunch before heading back to the mainland.
Shopping is definitely the thing here in Hong Kong this is a street market where one will find all sorts of fun things…
There is always a line outside this place, every so often an employee will come out and look for people in larger groups as they must make special arrangements for them. Inside it is very small and everyone squeezes together sharing table space, enjoying tasty food and rushed service.
As we wait I spy a little book store besides us, I love the look of these little shops, absolutely crammed solid with items. Is it possible that anyone really knows what all is inside?
One of the signature items here; cooled milk pudding, the menu is very simple mostly this milk pudding either hot or cold, eggs and toast with ham and your choice of spaghetti or macaroni noodle soup. There are other things you can order but they are much more expensive, my guess would be because if you order the main items its easier for the crew to keep up with demand.
As we leave I spy this little shrine on the sidewalk. Once you know to look for them they are everywhere, Fanny tells me they are offerings to the gods or spirits of the land that these buildings occupy. As you can see from the burned incense someone is taking this seriously.
This was interesting, the people here are gathering to vote for the primaries in an upcoming major election, I saw three different stations this trip. Hong Kong is technically part of China and therefore must listen to what the central government in Beijing says but they also enjoy a lot of freedom to direct their local issues. Voting is a big deal here which seems odd in comparison to the mainland. This is one of the strangest aspects of life here in China, you find a strange combination of things; Communist, Socialist, Capitalist I suppose only time will tell what the end result of this experiment will be.
We decide to head back as its kind of cold and tomorrow begins another work week.
The bus ride home is quick and painless, can’t say the same for the line at customs, I am not sure what was going through the girls mind but she seemed to be reading in-depth every single page of the passports. There were only 4 people in front of me in the line for foreigners and fanny beat me in by around 20 min even though she had to go through the main entrance with at least 30 people in front of her…
here is a sneak peek at Ipad 2 Fun, will post on that soon.