Feet finally on U.S. soil again, I took a trip up north of Charlotte this weekend to Barnstock '12, a two-day camp-in and concert festival in Huntersville, now in its third year.
Sugar Glyder, signed to national record label ORG Music, which is a part of Warner Bros Records, played a really stellar set yesterday, and I was happy to be back in America, finally.
The party drew 300-ish of all ages seeking good, clean fun and wow, Barnstock '12 delivered! If there was any question about what kids in the South are doing in the summer, it's partying in fields and barns. Even the backstage barn (how many members of Sugar Glyder can you spot?) was pretty sick:
The final act of the festival was Brody & Choch, of local fame. If you haven't seen these two brothers get weird on the stage, then you are certainly missing out. Their stage presence is electrifying, and it's no wonder they've got such a loyal following!
Barnstock '12 raised money for Second Harvest Food Band of Metrolina, American Red Cross, the Davidson Fire Department. There was also a sand volleyball tournament scheduled in honor of Queen's College volleyball player battling Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Kids rockin' out in a field for charity. Very cool. Very cool, indeed.
Barnstock is an annual camp-in and music festival, all for charity!
Perhaps I spoke too soon about Hong Kong. If Hong Kong might be heaven, then Macau is the heaven of heaven. The ferry there, which costs $185 HKD each way (or roughly $50 USD round trip,) feels as if you are embarking on a journey to an ancient fishing village on an uninhabited island.
Upon arrival, the reality is exactly the opposite. It's the Vegas of the East. Flashing lights, all of the big name Vegas casinos are there, and the interesting mix of the old and the new is really something to see. Macau is a crazy culture hodge podge, and that's what makes it truly special.
A special administrative district of China since 1999, Macau was part of the Portuguese empire in 1887. It has its own currency and unique culture, though. No place else (in 16 countries so far that I've seen) have I witnessed such an amalgamation of the old, the new, the rich, and the poor all surrounding this random ass mix of European/African/North American/Asian influence. I won't even start with the consumerist/communist thing that's also present.
It looks nothing like Asia other than the inhabitants being mostly Asian. In fact, it looks more like Portugal, which is curious, though people on the street speak both Portuguese and Cantonese. It's seriously trippy to hear Portuguese in the streets and to see it all over the place on signs and whatnot.
I'm totally confused by Macau, but I can't stop staring at it. There's a serious compulsion to stay here and never come back, honestly. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Would you go to Macau?
Bonus bug video!
A short ride on the MTR subway from mostly anywhere in Hong Kong, Mong Kok is the market district that features little street shops to buy anything you could possibly ever want, and it is crazy amazing. From animals to clothing to electronics to food, Mong Kok is where it's at. Holy mass of people, batman! It's tough to even know where to start:
Mong Kok Market Hong Kong!
Mong Kok Market
The buskers here are pretty stellar, don't you think?
People in Hong Kong (well, not just here but in the rest of the world, too) don't seem to have the same hang-ups and desire to be completely removed from what the food being eaten actually is, particularly when it comes to meat, as Americans are. There are also seemingly more vegetarians in other parts of the world, too. Vegetarianism after this trip might be something for me to think about, you know, since I'm a world famous flexitarian. Hong Kong was a meatsravaganza.
Personally, every time I go to Asia, I really make it a point to have squab (or pigeon, for those who want to call it what it actually is and not some fancy-pantsy name) because it is delicious. If you like dark meat poultry, you like dark meat poultry, even if it's a common bird like pigeon. I'd venture to say it's my favorite bird to eat ... even the brains. Mmmmm. Brainnnnnnssss.
Hong Kong Cuisine
Bonus bug video! They make 'em big out here ifyouknowwhatImean! ;)
Lan Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊 )in Central Hong Kong is nuts! Known for being the entertainment (read: party) district, it certainly lives up to its name. And let me tell you, ladies night is bezerk. Holy shit.
Let's go back a couple of paces first, though. Lan Kwai Fong is primarily filled with foreigners. I noticed this when we sat down to enjoy smoking some apple and mint shisha (something I learned to love while I was in Doha!) and somewhat reasonably priced drinks. (Things aren't as cheap here as many people told me they are when I mentioned this trip, btw.)
"We just stay inside, watch movies, play drinking games with cards at someone's house," said Mookie, our Hong Kong native guide. "It's not really in our culture to go out to clubs all the time. We only really go, like tonight, if one of our out-of-town friends wants to go."
The fact that everyone is an out-of-towner makes it incredibly fun, though. In our group we had people from Algeria, mainland China, California, Palestine, Bhutan and Peru. I'm here in Hong Kong as part of the GEILI fellowship program, aimed at empowering and connecting nonprofit influencers in the social entrepreneurship realm as well as to organize TEDxLionRock, so 37 countries are represented across the 80 fellows and TEDx organizers. It seemed like every group in Lan Kwai Fong was equally as randomly international, not just ours. Fun times indeed!
Entrance to most clubs here is around $400 HK dollars, which is roughly $50 USD, firstly. What makes it so special on ladies night is that the admittance fee is waived and, get this, all vodka (or whatever the liquor of the day is) drinks are FREE. You read correctly: open bars for all ladies all night. As one can imagine, this also means ladies are all trashed all night.
Hong Kong is amazing now that I'm out of the airport. What a rich, colorful, vibrant, and alive city.
The most exciting thing so far has been fairly simple: I snuck onto the roof of my hotel (past many signs advising not to) to catch the sunset. Sure, catching the sunset isn't the most exhilarating feat, but what I didn't expect was how breathtaking the 360 would be. I expected to take a snap or two of the sun behind the clouds. What I did not expect was to be greeted by the mountain, the interesting juxtaposition of humans and nature as seen by the construction and placement of gigantic apartment estates, the delicate and respected balance of technology and nature present in the city planning, and the simple ability to see off into the distance in such a pronounced way.
Here's what it looks like at the base of that big apartment mecca. One could literally never leave the big cube (hold the Borg jokes, please!) and have everything needed to survive:
The things to eat here are many and mostly all delicious though some are curious. A visit to the market inside yielded not only amazing sights but some pretty tasty dishes as well. Can anyone tell me where I can get some similar type of ramen-noodle hotdog scrambled egg breakfast soup like this in Charlotte? It is so delicious and addictive!
Hong Kong Food
27 hours, 3 flights, 1 hellish 5-hour layover in Detroit, and literally a jump over the North Pole later, I've finally arrived in Hong Kong!
My initial impression upon landing is one of surprise. They've got a coal-fueled power plant right near a major water source here like we do in Charlotte with Duke Energy's very old, very dirty Riverbend power plant in Mount Holly. In complete ignorance to local governance when it comes to these things, part of me wonders if Hong Kong is experiencing the same kinds of negative impact Charlotteans do: contaminated ground water being perhaps the most obvious, but also bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, heart disease, lung disease, and pneumonia.
The New York Times says Hong Kong has some of the cleanest air in all of China but that a huge number of deaths can still be attributed to coal. There's the answer to the question of if the people here are affected the same as we are. Humanity really is uniting in some ways, isn't it? Too bad it's over something depressing like mortality due to environmental pollution. Oh, but that haze sure makes for simply stunning photos and videos, doesn't it?!?
I'm actually still in the Hong Kong Airport as I type this, which is why the title of this post references Ain't No Sunshine. I've been here, oh, something like 10 hours at this point. My host, TEDxLionRock's Clive Lee, has arranged for pickup in the morning but I arrived at 7 p.m. and so I wait, patiently, with another GEILI Fellow, Vineet Chhatria. In the absence of humanity in a large, open, public space, we decided to go on a photo snapping extravaganza somewhere around 2 a.m. The chance to snap photos in such a place is really a once in a lifetime chance. Have a peek:
Hong Kong Airport
Finally, what would you, the readers, like to see from me while I'm out here? I thought about trying to find the weirdest possible thing I can to purchase from a vending machine. Would you like to see that? It seems like used panties are kind of cliche but ... is it? Is it really possible to buy such a thing? Someone found live crab for sale in a Hong Kong vending machine. So it can't be that difficult, can it?
Creative Loafing has a new blog coming. Mine!
Wayfaring Tech Nomad will be about three things: Travel, tech and, occasionally, the intersection of the two.
In April, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go on a trip to Doha, Qatar and bring everyone along with me. Now, I'm off to Hong Kong. The experience will be the same: a look at the world through a Charlottean's eyes. While I'm not traveling, and sometimes when I am, I'll be keeping everyone up to date on the cool happenings with the tech scene, especially as it pertains to our beautiful city.
Speaking of, expect neat things like this panorama, which is what I'm shooting in the above video, and other little vignettes from all kinds of cool places all over the world. (Use your mouse and click to move the panorama along.)
So, welcome to the adventure! Hong Kong will mark the first Wayfaring Tech Nomad posts and begins on July 3!
Follow me on Twitter: @dbirdy.