A taste of the Congress – Day 1

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Sleep was fitful, perhaps in part due to how much I slept on my flights. I did manage to chat with David at around 3:30 am before catching a bit more sleep. I left fairly early in search of food in the general direction of the Hong Kong Convention Centre. The wave of humidity that hit me as I exited the hotel instantly brought me back to my time in Thailand. The heat was definitely present, though not unbearable, but I think it’s ultimately the smell that reminds me of it–something like thick hair mingling with car exhaust fumes, noodles and stir fry with a bit of standing water thrown in. In my wanderings, it became apparent how small I was amidst the soaring buildings–caverns of concrete, steel and glass. Despite being able to see the convention centre, it was a bit of a challenge to find an entrance, as there were numerous footbridges and barricades up. There also seemed to be an inordinate amount of police officers around. When I finally found an entrance, I was immediately whisked off to the registration area, as a portion of the convention centre was blocked off. The highly-barricaded/policed area later made sense when I found out someone like the Vice-Premier of China was staying and/or giving talks at the convention centre.

It wasn’t long before I was registered and armed with my tote full of conference swag (including a stylish ICPhS fan). I poked my head into the opening ceremony for the congress, featuring a pair of lion dancers and some admittedly less exciting opening speeches. I desperately needed some breakfast, so I left to find something to eat, ultimately stumbling across a “French” bakery. After a ham and egg sandwich, I tried to get the lay of the land in the area surrounding my hotel, figuring out where the various convenience stores are, spotting the local McDonald’s and eyeing a few Western restaurants. I popped back into the conference for a few talks (which were jam-packed full of people) before heading back to the hotel to get some work in.

I wandered back to the congress to support some SFU talks, catching with up with Yue (my former supervisor at SFU) and other SFU and Northwestern folk. We stayed to check out the Wine Reception, which was at first a little worrying, as Chinese wine isn’t notorious for being delicious, but mercifully, they served me a glass of Chardonnay from California. After milling about for an hour or so, a bunch of us headed out in search of dinner. We ultimately decided on a Shanghai restaurant nearby the convention centre. The menu had some pretty amusing items, including sea blubber, giblets and various permutations of tripe. I, unsurprisingly, played it safe with a chicken and cashew nut dish. Things were fairly tasty, though it wasn’t anything mind-blowing–fairly standard fare. As I still wanted to get some prep in on my presentation, I headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

 

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