Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trip to Hong Kong

Dale Haidvogel invited Kate to help him teach a ten-day ROMS training
in Hong Kong. He had said he would go early with his family, so Rob
and I bought tickets to arrive early. Dale’s family then changed
their minds and they spent New Year’s in Toronto.

We arrived late afternoon on Dec 30 for a class starting Jan 5.

We were met by a taxi driver with a card holding my name - it was so nice.

Gan and two of his students met us at the apartment where they are putting
us up.

The next morning one of the students, LinLin, came and gave us a
campus tour. HKUST has most everything in one enormous building,
with eating establishments on the lower levels, class rooms on the
main level, and offices above. HKUST is only twenty years old, but
has become one of the best universities in Hong Kong, with the top
business school in all of Asia. LinLin took us to meet Gan, then
we went to visit the computer lab where my part of the class will
be held. The two computer guys who run all the computers in the
Math department were there, explaining that the PCs running windows
would have a virtual Linux, then they could connect to Gan’s cluster
for doing the actual work. Seemed dicey to me, plus Gan hadn’t sent
them the list of software I’d asked for (with all the Python modules),
so that was worrisome as well. We agreed to meet with them again
on Tuesday, the day before the class started. Gan then took us out
for a big dim sum lunch.

That afternoon Rob and I went to Hang Hau to buy Octopus cards and
to look for an extra electric plug converter. The Octopus cards can
be loaded with money, then debitted by the buses and the metro, so
you don’t have to carry tons of change around. My last Seattle trip
was filled with scrambling for bus money.

We spent the evenings and some early mornings working on talks while
touring around during the daylight hours. We got out to Tsuen Wan
on Saturday to see a Taoist temple, then to Stanley Market to see
what was there (I wanted a Chinese chop and we were told that was
the place to go). On Sunday we went out by the airport to see the
largest Buddha in the world at the Po Lin monastery . You can get
there by aerial tramway, which happened to have a two hour wait -
we’d have taken a bus if we’d known! Gan told us there were many
tourists from the mainland over for the holidays and said it should
be quiet now until Chinese New Years.

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