For many people in the West, the name Hong Kong sounds like an exotic, confusing and even intimidating place — it seems like a destination that is very far away from New York or Amsterdam. I was there again a few weeks ago and I can reassure anyone who may worry that it’s worth a visit. Somehow I always feel at home in HK because the city is very clean and well-organized. And it glitters night and day…
In fact, in kilometers or miles, it is indeed a huge distance away. From the US, it’s at least a 15-hour long flight. However, having said that, no one should feel this is a problem because flights these days have become pretty comfortable — and there are direct flights to Hong Kong from almost every international airport.
Street signage is in English and most people speak English and several Chinese languages as well. In shops, hotels, and restaurants, you’ll find people are very friendly and treat tourists with kindness and attentiveness (they know it’s good business to do so). Taxis are modern and cheap while the public transport is downright some of the best I have ever seen with buses, cable cars, and the marvelous ferry rides across Hong Kong Harbor.
If you are worried about getting food you like, have no fear! You can get any and all kinds of the food we are used to in the West plus all the world’s many cuisines in the more than 11,000 restaurants; there’s even several 24-hour McDonalds.
It’s a shopper’s paradise crowded with people by day and night where all major brands of the world in clothing, jewelry and cosmetics are available. You can also take a break at Starbucks (one of my personal favorite places).
The real heart of the city is its harbor, one of the world’s busiest. From almost anywhere in the city, you’ll see breathtaking views of all kinds of vessels from water taxis to ferries, old-fashioned “Chinese Junks,” ultra-modern sailboats, cruise ships and huge container ships. When you sit overlooking the waterfront (I suggest the Hyatt which has a lovely airconditioned seating area with a huge glass wall), you can imagine yourself sailing away as the ships go by.
Watch the gorgeous sunsets and wait for the city lights to come on – I’ve never ever seen a place so brightly lit up at night as Hong Kong.
But what gives the city its humanity is that in between the skyscrapers you can always find trees. In some streets, it feels like being in an ancient Chinese village with trees hundreds of years old. Turn a corner to find a little park or garden that is well-taken care of and helps bring a lot of much-needed oxygen into the city.
People in Hong Kong take care of their city, the environment, and themselves. There are so many good reasons why I love to visit HK! Don’t hesitate to go if you have the chance!
In my next blog, I’ll tell you more about the reasons for my visit to HK and some current issues regarding China.
Did I ever tell you before how I got to know all these friends of mine in all kinds of countries? I don’t believe I did.
Before I settled down, got married and children I used to travel a lot. That already started when I was in college. I spent some time in Europe as an exchange student. After that I went back many times for my job as a wine merchant. As you will know, Europe is still the heart of wine production in the world. France obviously, but also Italy, Spain and Germany. I was always looking for fine wines for my company to buy and sell. That is how I got to know another of my friends that this story is about.
Aziza lives in Dortmund, being married to a German man called Manfred, but she actually comes from Malaysia. From Dortmund to the Southwest of Germany there are large wine estates, one of them being owned by Aziza and her husband. They produce a very fine white wine that I immediately decided to buy for my company.
As it turned out, Aziza and I got along really well so I went back as often as I possibly could. I was there when her daughter Sophie was born!
Sophie is now 5 years old and well aware of her background. One evening Aziza, keeping her Asian heritage alive, had died Sophie’s hands with henna. Something very common in Asian and Arabian culture, but not that much in Germany.
When Sophie went to school next day naturally her girlfriends asked about the painting on her hands, so Sophie explained to them it was henna. Her girlfriends, completely astonished all shouted out: What? Were they done by Hannah Montana? They all wanted to meet her and Sophie had to ask Aziza for help to explain she did NOT know Hannah Montana, but that she does know henna and how to dye hands with it.
After the girls had overcome their disappointment of not getting to meet Hannah Montana, they all went to school the next day with a beautiful henna painting on their hands.
My work takes me to far, interesting places, and as I am doing more international plane flights than I like, one time I decided to travel the good old-fashioned American way… I took the train! Sitting in a comfortable train has its perks and could spent my time wisely too!
I enjoyed the great scenery. I could eat, read, talk, walk, or do nothing, or do my work. Make and receive phone calls and do all the emailing in the world and… sleep…. All from my plush chair on the train.
Over the course of only a few days starting in San Francisco, I had reveled in the glorious mountains of the Sierra Nevada while covered in snow. I was in awe of the Rocky Mountains by the glittering light of the moon and in the morning and evening sun.
I enjoyed the sight of great rivers and streams, wild deserts, and I delighted in the sight of small, scattered ghost towns. I crossed the Mississippi River a few times.
As I traveled, I set foot in Denver, Chicago, Washington DC, New Orleans, El Paso and Los Angeles! Taking the train back from Los Angeles to San Francisco was a truly unforgettable experience where the splendor and colors of the Pacific Ocean were totally breathtaking!
I finished my trip alongside several new friends I had made since, sometimes, you sit with the same people for days!
I became close friends with the hard-working crew of the dining car where the service and food were excellent, including fresh salads and even 100% vegetarian meals! Still, you might be wondering:
But what has Amtrak got to do with natural colors?
Riding the train throughout the fabulous splendor of this great Country I have seen mountains and riverbeds in reds, greens, blues, beige, and dark brown. I believe I have even witnessed the color of yellow!
All around me I saw the most beautiful and brightest pigments of the earth, and some of these very colors have been chosen to be used in our most natural colored makeup products.
Really, every American should board Amtrak at least once in their lifetime! Experience the same joy and awe as I did and enjoy the beauty of a great Nation, all while you relax. Take the train in stead of the plane!!! You will be glad that you did.
Riding the train and viewing the splendor of the mosaic of colors, while imagining the vivid and natural colors of our Paul Penders natural cosmetics as well! Every beautiful potpourri of color and every glorious memory captured in a picture as you ride along on a train reminds one of the beauty and warmth of the earth’s natural delights – marvelous colors!