Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hong Kong

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I have been to Paris, London, Tokyo, Seoul, LA, San Francisco, etc... and in my opinion there is no more "International" city than Hong Kong.

This picture was taken on the Kowloon side, which is a peninsula attached to Mainland China. From here I am looking over the harbor to Hong Kong Island. The ferries in the foreground are from the Star Ferry line. For the rate of $5.30 HK (.70 US) you can take a ferry between the 2 sides, worth every cent I promise.

Hong Kong boasts 4 of the 16 tallest buildings in the world, even though it is roughly the land mass of LA and half the population. Thanks to it's designation as an SAR (Special Administrative Region) Hong Kong has become a hub for international businesses. Almost every major bank has offices there.

From a Tourist perspective there are a few solid days worth of stuff to see. Check back here as I detail out some of the sights I have visited (and new ones I will add on future trips).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Asia Travel Handbook

When I first found out I was going to be travelling to Asia I went out of my way to try to consume as much literature about the region that I could find. Books on China were scarce at my local library and I was forced to turn to works of fiction that took place in the Pacific Rim. To my surprise I stumbled across a book that has become a Must-Read at our company for any new employees traveling to Asia.

Tai-Pan (Sequel to Sho-Gun) is a book by James Clavell that starts out with the founding of Hong Kong. It details a few months in the life of Dirk Struan as he founds the Noble House, a trading/smuggling company in the new Colony.

What makes this book such an important piece (in my opinion, of course) is that Clavell has done a great job explaining the interactions between the Chinese and the Westerners. There is a lot of attention spent on the concept of "face" (as in "he lost face") and how important it is in that society. It is also very interesting to read about the longevity of the Chinese culture and how they consider all Westerners "Barbarians"

This book is a work of fiction, but for anybody interested in the East-West relationship I highly recommend this book. If you are up to it read the entire Saga (in Chronlogical order) But Tai-Pan can be taken completely on it's own and still be an outstanding read.

Check out your local used book store, where you can probably buy this for $1.00, and immerse yourself in the rugged and rough history of Hong Kong.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wonder of the World

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After my last post I wanted to make sure that I had the chance to show the other side of traveling to China. Never in my wildest did I ever think I would have the chance to see the Great Wall of China. Then a random business trip got me to Beijing. Just couldn't resist taking a day and hitting the big attractions (Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tianenmen Square)

This photo was taken on the Badaling section, North of Beijing. You can see the large Olympic sign in the background. I took this picture with the anticipation that I would see this same shot (or some like it anyway) every day during the 2008 Olympics.

I will do a future post on my visit, just wanted everybody to know it isn't all Squid Head in China

Squid Head, Anyone?

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This is one of the more exotic things i have eaten. It is Squid and instead of eating the tentacles you slice the head in to strips and eat it. Not bad, but a little much

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Frequent Traveler Rewards

The first thing I learned when I started to travel for business was the value of joing every traveler program I could.

Many of the programs have such high minimum stays/miles/days that the average vacation traveler never hits any rewards, but one short trip can earn you more than you think.

First, Airline Miles: this seems obvious but you would be amazed how many people I travel with that aren't members of any program. Due to our limited flight options from Wyoming I mostly fly United. Many of their services are average (at best) but as soon as you meet their first "Elite" goals (35,000 miles) then you automatically get seated in Economy Plus, with no extra costs. This is a luxurious 5 extra inches of legroom. For a 6500 mile Hong Kong flight it may be the difference in sanity and craziness. Hint: Always ask which "Alliance" an airline belongs to. Don't make the mistake of getting a United and a Lufthansa FF Card since they share you can use 1 for both, but cannot combine later (I will do a more detailed entry on this later)

Second, Hotel Rewards: I made the early mistake of choosing Miles instead of Reward Points when I stayed at Mariott. Because I stay there so often I lost a lot of free nights, and ended up with a few thousand measly miles out of it. I still have a few programs that I have set to miles because I stay there infrequently. But if I plan to stay more than 3 nights a year at any chain I choose rewards so I can earn free nights

Last, Rental Car: This is by far the easiest. Sign up online to become a "preferred" member and you will get special service from your first rental. This usually includes express check-in (which has saved me many hours), free upgrades, and sometimes special covered loading areas. The rewards themselves are a little slow to rack up, but you can usually earn miles and rewards. I am a member of the Thrifty blue chip and I get a mile per $ spent and 1 free rental every 11 rental days. Since most my travel is to Asia I don't rent much, but when I do I am rewarded for it.

*Remember, your company cannot take your miles, or any other rewards you earn. These are yours to keep and use for PERSONAL travel.

After only 3 trips this year I have enough rewards to take all 4 of us on a domestic trip (includes 4 flights), 2 nights of hotels, and 1 car rental.

Lastly, I have 1 airline that I only aquired 3,600 miles on this year. Doesn't seem like that's worth anything, but I can redeem as few as 900 miles for subscriptions to some of my favorite magazines, that makes it worth about $20 per subscription, not bad.

Excellent Engrish

Engrish - (also known as Chinglish) - Bad english found in China (or anywhere is Asia)

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I found this sign in our Hotel Lobby in Yiwu, China.

Welcome to HuFlungPoo

This is my new Blog, HuFlungPoo. This comes from one of my favorite "sounds like chinese but means nothing" sayings. (Yes I am sure you all got it already, but it's Who Flung Poo, as in "Who threw the poop?")

I want to make this a site about my travels to Asia. I will post pictures, comments, tourist and business travel ideas, and any random crap I feel like. I suppose I could use my Myspace page, but we'll try this for awhile...

I hope to really get started soon, so please mark my page and come on back...