Dower Returns from Hong Kong

This is a late post, and much of it was written while I was on my flight home from Hong Kong. I figure I’d finish this and post it…

It’s now 5 am in the Northeastern United States, and 5pm in Hong Kong on July 11. I find myself aboard a United Boeing 777 cruising over the Pacific near the northern pole headed home after spending almost three weeks in Hong Kong. I leave behind my wife and son who will be there for the remainder of the summer. I meant to blog more about my trip while I was there, but I felt the need to really stay away from all my normal daily activities, such as keeping up with my tech news and blogging, giving myself the chance to recharge. I was still on the computer though, my real job had me doing some work from overseas because of an important looming deadline in August. But now that I’m headed back home, I can share some of the interesting things I found and did in Hong Kong.

The first few days in Hong Kong was spent decompressing from the normal daily grind and dealing with jetlag. Typically, I recall from my past journeys to Hong Kong, I didn’t suffer from jetlag after getting there, but this time, I did. It wasn’t awful, but I became really sleepy by around 6-7pm. I suppose the fact that that Hong Kong doesn’t have the extended daylight the Northeast of the US has during the summer didn’t help either. It was dark by 7pm.

Besides issue with jetlag, I had two other issues to contend with, power and a cellphone. Power wasn’t as much an issue with the difference in voltage, since most power supplies these days can convert between 110 and 220 volts, Hong Kong being the latter. The main problem is the outlet styles. In the US, our outlets are pretty small, and you have the choice of 2 prong or 3 prong. In Hong Kong, especially in older buildings, you need to consider the various european and asian plug styles, and converting between them all. We basically didn’t have enough of the right kind of plug converters, so we had to go out and buy some. Which was easy enough to do. Cellphones were a little trickier, since most folks in Hong Kong have adopted the US style of two year contract subsidized plans, and we had to figure out how to get a short term setup to last the summer. I brought along my old iPhone 3GS which AT&T let me unlock, since it’s no longer a contract phone, and after some asking around we found that a company called One2Free which still offers weekly pay-as-you-go plans. The plan worked out to about $13 per week, not bad.

Once the jetlag, power and cellphone issues were sorted out, we spent time wandering around and reacquainting ourselves with relatives and the best thing of all – shopping! Hong Kong is quite the mecca for shopping of all manners, and the tech area is one of them. Sadly, the prices of tech gadgetry wasn’t as good as it used to be. But prices for accessories were pretty good. The hottest thing in Hong Kong was the new Samsung Galaxy S3 Android smartphone, which was selling extremely well. Everyone around me had smartphones, just from casual observation, the iPhone and Android phones are popular here, Android has taken quite a bite from Apples marketshare in Hong Kong, thanks to Samsung’s Galaxy line. Interestingly enough, I observed a very large number of high school kids with Samsung Notes, the 5″ Tablet/Phone hybrid. Indeed this device which has met with some ridicule in the US is quite popular in Hong Kong. The main attraction of Android and the Galaxy line is primarily the screen size. There are a number of apps available that let you watch streaming shows and having that larger screen makes it more enjoyable; an aspect hopefully Apple pays attention to for the next iPhone. In addition to watching shows, many people use an app called “WhatsApp”, which is a cross platform messaging alternative to SMS messaging that even works overseas!

I hit many of the gadget malls in Mong Kok, and the big Golden computer center in Shim Sha Sui. The only words to describe these places is insane, especially Golden. All of these small malls are lined with little shops, many, selling the same exact thing, the prices tend to be similar, and the challange is spotting that one item a certain stall has that the others don’t. I found a wide assortment of styluses, cases, stands and cables. I bought a number of items which I will talk about in later posts.

OK, that’s it for now. In the next few days I’ll start posting more about my trip and some of the interesting things I found and brought back from there. I’ve also go a number of things to review and write up. So stay tuned.