Hong Kong Slideshow

Here is a slideshow of some of the best of the photos which I took in Hong Kong.

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Asia’s Global city

So, for Chuseok I went to Hong Kong and Macau.  It was a really wonderful trip.  The bizzarre thing about it is it’s hard to pinpoint what was so wonderful about Hong Kong.

I think it’s great selling point, especially from someone living in Seoul, is how international it is.   I mean it was a hunt to find Chinese food in Hong Kong.  Western food from steak houses to McDonalds on the other hand were all over the place.  We found some Chinese food, but it was a bit of a hunt.

Not only that but if you like shopping Hong Kong has every premiere brand I’ve ever heard of there.  From Apple and Armani to Prada and Rolex if you want something expensive you can find it in Hong Kong.  Or if you want something cheap they have a huge selection of  pretty good knock-offs  and discount items.  I got a great ironic t-shirt.

 

Not only that but English was everywhere.   I was expecting it to be Seoul-like with most of the working class people only speaking Cantonese.  However, English was so common here.  It makes me so jealous.

It was a city with some beautiful sites to see.    The Skyline of the city was wonderful both from the ferry and from the top on The Peak’s observation deck.   The skyline also showed itself extremely pretty from the waters between Hong Kong proper and Kowloon.

The trip out to Lan Tau was a pretty remarkable side expedition.  The glass-bottomed cable car proved every bit worth the wait in the long line.   The Big Buddha was a pretty beautiful statue.  I was tempted with the cynical thought that if you’ve seen one Buddha you’ve seen them all but I think no that really isn’t the case as each beautiful statue I go to see is as cool as the last one.  The real star of this was the glass-bottomed cable car ride. The view up and down the mountain path is truly spectacular.    When you come over a hill and see the giant statue at the end of a long stretch of trees it’s quite spectacular.

Macau was really another great side trip.   If you don’t like gambling their is just enough to spend about a day wandering around this small island part of China.    It’s got a unique look thanks to several hundred years of Portugese occupation.  Also it’s one of the few places in the Far East that allows everyone to gamble on casino games.  So they have several big Casinos there.   We went to the Sands, and I won about $60 US playing black jack.   I was surprised to see row after row of baccarat tables.

I think the real star of the trip though was just the overall look and feel of Hong Kong.  I’d reccomend it to anyone looking for a break from Seoul’s somewhat provincial attitudes.

Macau live diary

Should Have Seen It: Casablanca

So Casablanca turned out to be another film which earned its reputation. It’s the kind of film they just don’t make anymore, for better and for worse. I hope that does not sound like bleary nostalgia, its more of a description than anything as some of the movie just screams,”This was made a long time ago.”

The film starts with a long introduction of the scene and an enormous amount of expository dialogue. It takes almost one-third of the film to know who all the principles are and what it is that they’re doing.

The importance of Casablanca may be lost on a modern audience. It was a way-station on the route out of Nazi occupied Europe for many people fleeing to America via Lisbon Portugal.

This owed to it being controlled by the Vichy French government, puppets of Berlin. Some of the tension in this film depends on this understanding– which I imagine everyone knew when this was released in 1942.

Once the story gets started, it has two tracks. A love story between Rick and Ilsa and an escape story involving a few more characters. Bogart and Bergman excel in both roles and have tremendous chemistry together.

A great deal about this film had been spoiled for me because of all the references over the years but seeing these scenes in their full context was rewarding.

The action in this film is great for how little action is in it. A gun is shown a few times in the film but only rarely are they fired. This gives real emotional weight to the scenes where the characters are willing to resort to guns.

Speaking of spoilers the ending deserves special discussion. I think the idea of spoiling one of the most well known scenes in a seventy year old film is absurd but if you don’t want to read about the ending stop reading now.

The ending is the good of why they don’t make films like this. Bogart chooses duty to humanity over being with his love. Oddly the film succeeds at making this a touching and bittersweet but not sad moment. I can not picture a modern film maker succeeding so completely.

One final note. I loved the beautiful theme to this movie’s score. Time goes by was a beautiful piece of piano. It complemented the feeling of the film exceptionally.

Should Have Seen It…The Godfather

The Godfather

I once read an interview that said the average gamer has seen one movie, Star Wars.  At the time, I think I took it too literally and got annoyed with the wording of it.  Lately, I realized it’s kind of true.

So I decided to  rectify this with me personally and watch the movies that I should have seen.  Some of which I’ve even been lying about having seen to friends and family members for years because I’m kind of embarrassed by how few of these cultural touchstones I’ve actually viewed.

The first movie I saw was Francis Ford Coppola’s  film the Godfather.   I was worried that this film wouldn’t really connect the way it did when it was released.  That too much of it had been spoiled by homages, or that things that were powerful in the 1970s would no longer have the same significance.

This wasn’t the case,  this movie is an amazing bit of storytelling that tells the story of the end of one criminal’s life and the rise of another.  I’m not going to pretend I know enough about film making to really critique this movie in a super serious way, but I love the way the characters are introduced at the wedding.  It brings in a huge cast of characters in a very condensed scene and makes people just having a conversation so fascinating before even really letting on what the film is going to be about.

What’s really amazing is how many characters are interesting, flawed, human, and yet empathetic.  On some level I know they’re all criminals who do bad things but you’re rooting for the Corleones to succeed.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I’m sure someone’s probably recommended it to you before, but it’s a movie that has aged really well.