Hong Kong

Trip Start Jul 06, 2003
1
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30
Trip End Ongoing


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Sunday, August 24, 2003

Hong Kong was our next stop. For me particularly exciting as it has been 23 years since my last visit. Of course there is now a new airport on Lantau Island with a new 30 minute fast train service to Hong Kong. Brilliant, same level floors or gentle slopes bringing you in and out of the airport/station. What a pleasure for us glorified back-packers (with wheels).

We arrived after dark and saw this great skyline for the first time in all these years and I was immediately impressed. Kerry's friend had kindly invited us to stay at their place while they were on home leave in Canada, the location was Jardines Lookout, way up on one of the peaks, therefore we had the superb view initially from below then again as we climbed the hill looking down on the City lights.

We went to Stanley Market which I had remembered from my last visit as a fun buzzy place where you could buy all sorts of interesting things. Particularly clothes, silks, and great little gifts. (not that we're buying any, as we haven't got the space in our packs). Unfortunately, the market had changed and unless you wanted a "Beckham" T shirt, trainers or the usual beachwear, most of the Chinese shops had disappeared. Or could it be that the world has become smaller and in the 23 years since I was last in H.K all the embroidered toilet roll holders, collapsible silk appliqued waste bins, and those wonderful silk lipstick cases with mirrors have shown up on every market stall in the world so there's very little call for them any more!!!

One day we went to Lamma Island, recommended by a friend of Kerry's who lives there along with English teachers, writers and ex hippies who have found the buzz of Hong Kong and Kowloon too much and have settled for a quieter life after the working day. Its only 30 minutes by ferry. A strange place in that the island is like something out of a James Bond Movie. When you land at the ferry stage, the island looks green and lush. The main street of small cafes and shops selling the usual seaside things. Home made jewellery wrap-around batik skirts etc. A pathway through tropical forest is well marked to the beach and after 20 minutes or so of walking through banana trees, palms and beautiful shady greenery you arrive at the golden beach..... Protruding out to sea on a long peninsular is an enormous power station, sporting 3 massive chimneys and all sorts of outbuildings, absolutely weird in such a beautiful setting. At any minute you expect Dr No and Nick Nack (the little guy) to appear across the beach offering a glass of champagne, demanding to know how you had found his secret location!!

Clearly the British had decided to hide this Power Station at the back of the island( probably uninhabited at the time)never thinking that one day it would become a sort after residential area.

Hong Kong is fast and buzzy and we both like it as a fun place to be. One night we went at dusk over on the ferry to Kowloon to look back on Hong Kong to get a real feel for the skyline. Its changed so much since my last visit, there are some magnificent buildings. One of them, soon to be finished, looks like a much much taller and slimmer version of the London Gerkhin (makes our City one look more like a cornichon!)

The lights are a kaleidoscope of colour. We took photos from the park where the Brits handed back Hong Kong to China and I can see it must have been a very moving occasion. I was quite enthralled by the skyline, so Kerry took us to the Intercon lobby bar for cocktails to soak up the atmosphere. I was even allowed a 15 pound glass of wine, (instead of the usual beer we have consumed since leaving London)that will upset the budget but well worth it.

The passage between Hong Kong and Kowloon is so narrow that the large passenger liners gliding passed the sheer glass windows of the Intercon looked quite surreal against the backdrop of the skyscrapers. Ferry boats with large white funnels and fairy lights carrying people to and fro and the huge working ships heading off to the main port.... It seemed as if we were watching a film.

Later we had dinner in Kowloon... What a change in service after Japan. Gone were the bows and polite manners. The waiters opening gambit "what do you want"; the food almost thrown on the table; the tablecloth(agreed covered in sauce - despite the fact we have been eating with chopsticks for over a month) whisked away while you were trying to sign the bill, and our friendly "goodbyes" and "thank yous"were not even acknowledged. Oh well, new country new culture, it's not rude out here. Despite this I think Hong Kong would be a great fun place to live for a while.
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