It’s hard to complain about the Beijing Olympics. It’s set in one of the most mysterious, exotic, and beautiful places in the world. Add on top of that, the Chinese penchant for extravagance and perfection and you get a hell of a show. The opening ceremony will go down as the greatest ever, thousands of synchronized drummers and fireworks providing a show worthy of past emperors. I definitely watched from beginning to end.

Since the opening ceremonies though, the Olympics and China have experienced feats and embarrassments. As expected world records have been broken, gold medals won, but the controversies have gotten more attention. It started with the random murder of an American, and continued into potentially underage gymnasts. But I guess that’s to be expected. When you bring all these cultures together, with different sets of values on the world stage, the ambition to “look good” supercedes all.

I do have many issues with how China has run the Olympics, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so immersed. So far, it’s definitely been a great show and there’s more to come.

However, I do have one complaint about the Olympics. It has to do with the broadcast and presentation by NBC. The casual conversation between G.W. Bush and Bob Costas left a jingoist taste in my mouth. I cringed when they discussed human rights violations in China without discussion of Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Obviously, NBC would take a pro-American approach for the Olympics, but at times they take it too far.

Anyway, the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics are looking like the best ever. I’m gladly staying up until 1am every night watching, and am anxiously awaiting USA Basketball.

Hong Kong

July 2, 2008

Boasting a spectacular skyline, tropical climate and cosmopolitan sentimentality, its no surprise that Hong Kong has earned a spot in the pantheon of iconic metropolises alongside cities such as New York, Paris, Milan and Tokyo. Having visited once before several years ago, my return last week on vacation confirmed that Hong Kong is without a doubt one of my favorite cities in the world.

As soon as one steps off the plane, one can sense a tangible vitality and spirit of progress. As my buddy informed me, the airport itself is a feat of technological prowess, resting on a man-made island. Like any great city, Hong Kong has great nightlife, (particularly Lan Kwai Fong, where the bars are known to spill into the street, Mardi Gras style), culture and shopping (the high end retailers in Central rival any of those in Midtown Manhattan). Being a financial and shipping hub, Hong Kong is also a city of tremendous wealth—it’s not uncommon to find yourself gawking at the Ferraris and Lamborginis that seem to drive by every several minutes. And let’s not forget that the fashion industry in the city brings with it boatloads of beautiful women. If you’re one of those people who isn’t overly enthusiastic about Asian women, I challenge you to visit Hong Kong and return with the same mindset.

Yet beyond all of these elements, what sets Hong Kong apart for me is the city’s topography and breathtaking skyline. Hong Kong is a mountainous tropical island and seeing massive buildings jutting out of the side of lush green mountains is a site to behold. Furthermore, taking the ferry across the bay to Kowloon provides a panoramic view of the coolest and most colorful cityscape on the planet.

If all of this isn’t enough to convince you, Hong Kong even provides the backdrop for the most anticipated film of the summer The Dark Knight. See the movie, then save up your dough to visit the city where it all went down. Or better yet, see the movie in Hong Kong. You might even get one of those cool new water proof ten dollar bills as change when you pay for your ticket.

For a little eye candy, here’s a new trailer for The Dark Knight. Peep the IFC 2—the tallest building in the city—in the beginning and the end.