Thought I'd jot down a few thoughts for anyone interested.
The night before I flew out an old friend came into town for a bachelor party, we got drunk, and I sprained my ankle reasonably seriously. It swelled to huge proportions and I cried out at the thought of hobbling around Hong Kong the next day and going to Asia for the first time as a cripple. Luckily I was able to get ahold of some crutches late at night and flew out the next morning.
Traveling by air in a wheelchair is great. You get whisked through security and customs and get to board the plane first. I even got bumped to business class. When i arrived, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing my friend's reaction as I was wheeled out of a door in the HK airport - eyebrows raised in surprise and then a burst of laughter. The reaction of another friend I met at the Saigon airport a week later was the same.
Hong Kong was not crutches/wheelchair friendly - it's extremely densely populated and the center has hills and layers of stairrways and escalators. Pretty much the whole city feels like the financial center of other cities. I think finance and real estate make up 80% of the business. You know immediately the banks are running things, because they print and have their names on the currency.
HK was fun - there are great restaurants and the ferry rides were spectacular. I spoke at a University there about machine learning (Bayesian networks) as models of cognitive development. 7 people came. I was viiting a good friend there and we yucked it up for several nights.
Then I flew to Saigon to meet an old Irish friend of mine who was traveling for 6 months in Asia. I knew he'd be fun b/c we traveled together in S. America a few yrs. back. He put me on the back of a motor bike and we drove around Saigon, amidst insane lawless traffic that only exists outside the 1st world. I like a place that has a lawless feel to it, though, coz there's an energy and vitality you just don't get elsewhere.
Saigon had a fantastic and interesting war memorial which is worth visiting if you got there. I wasn't happy with constantly being pestered by sex tourists and in general seeing Euro-trash and old white men with ridicuously young women.
After 36 hrs. I forced my buddy to fly to an island in the Gulf of thailand so i could recuperate on the beach. I crawled (crutches don't work so hot on the sand) from my hammock to the ocean to get some exercise and enjoy the water. The first time i came out of the water and was attempting to crawl back to my lodgings, the locals apparently thought I had just injured myself and about 5 of them crowded around and fussed over me as I crawled along the beach, unable to communicate anything successfully. My friend watched with obvious amusement and when i returned said "Whatsa matter? Haven't they ever seen a grown man crawl before?"
The snorkeling, fishing and kayaking on the island were all really enjoyable and dirt cheap. It was beautiful as was everything I saw in Vietnam. Avoid the dog on the menu, however.
By a stroke of luck on the island I ran into an attractive physical therapist from England and she worked with me for 3 days. Back in HK I was able to ditch my crutches on the side of the road with the hope that they would find their way into someone's hands who could use them.
I was partially scoping out the place to see if I'd like living there since the job opportunities for academics are better in China and HK than in the US right now. I think I could enjoy myself across the Pacific and was glad to find that out.