Crazy humidity...

Trip Start Dec 11, 2008
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Trip End Dec 13, 2009


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Monday, June 8, 2009

The first of my increasingly numerous summer jaunts came when I had an action packed weekend in Hong Kong early in June. The advantage of this semester is that I don't have any classes on a Monday, so it doesn't matter if I am really tired at the start of the week. This was essential on this particular trip as I was drained at the end of it!

I woke up nice and early on Saturday morning and made my way to the airport having already checked in online. It felt strange to be leaving Korea for the first time, and I'd made sure that I'd applied for a multi-entry permit so that I could get back in afterwards. My trip was at the height of the swine flu hysteria, and my employers were panicking a bit as a group of foreigners had recently arrived with an infected member, which resulted in quarantine. There were rumours that the foreigners at our place wouldn't be able to leave the country but these never materialized, and I would have ignored them anyway as my work doesn't have the ability to control me. Still, I decided to keep my little trip underwraps as a precaution, with only Hew and Phil in the know...

The efficiency of Hong Kong was immediately evident when I arrived, as I was whisked from the airport to the centre in the blink of an eye. From waking up at 7am, I was now strolling around central Hong Kong and it wasn't even midday! I believe that it is one of the main positives about living in Korea - it's close proximity to other fascinating places. Admittedly it's also close to one of the most unpredictable countries in the world, but I usually prefer to ignore that fact...

The first thing to strike me was the incredible humidity, which was reminiscent of walking into an oven when I first emerged into the open. Armed with my invaluable pop out map, I mooched around for an hour or so to get my bearings, something I always like to do at the start of a trip. Even though I visited Hong Kong on my way to New Zealand in 2005, I did virtually no exploring as I was a travel novice back then, but thesedays I'm more experienced and confident about independent exploration...

My hotel was across the water in Kowloon, but it was easy to find and I was impressed with the quality - I'd decided to splurge as it was only for one night afterall. After relaxing there for an hour or so, I wandered along Nathan Road and did a bit of window shopping...a lot of the shops on that street were out of my price range. Speaking of which, the rate at which I am saving money for my trip to Argentina and Chile early next year is slowing down. I'm trying not to worry about it too much though as I want to enjoy the present and see as much of Asia as possible with limited holiday days. Besides, I get a nice bonus at the end of my contract that will see me right...

I remember reading a student's essay in which she raved about the view of Hong Kong's skyline at night, so I started my Saturday evening with a pleasant stroll along the waterfront. It was amazing watching the sun set and seeing the lights shine across the water, and this was topped at 8pm when a brilliant light show had everybody smiling...a really awesome sight. I followed it up with a mammoth walk that took in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, and I was able to get some classic shots of the Hong Kong skyscrapers that dwarfed everything below...

Sunday was a long day as my flight wasn't due to leave until just after midnight, but this was perfect as I could pack a lot in, beginning with a visit to the eerie Tin Hau Temple. This place had the classic incense smell that you associate with temples, and it made for a contemplative experience. Next up was a trip to The Peak on what is surely the steepest tram in the world, and the views are so impressive. I'd even been lucky with the weather as it was the start of the rainy season afterall, but I didn't see a drop of rain all weekend...

I visited Temple Street's night market in Kowloon back in 2005 and it was the first time that I'd experienced the thrill of exploring alone in a culture so vastly different to my own. Wandering around the streets in that area brought the memories flooding back - more than four years have passed since then and I've grown a lot as a person in that time. It's strange how I could remember my way around so clearly, and I found the same jade shops that I went to back then, and spoke to a similar number of friendly old ladies.

With time running out, I spent my final few hours roaming around some more...my feet were beginning to ache at this point! I made a point of witnessing the light show again, and having a look at the nightlife in Soho, before heading to the impressive airport to rest my weary bones. Evidence of how tired I was came when I slept for the entire three hour flight, something that I've never been able to do before!

I eventually got back to my apartment at 8.30am the next morning, exhausted but satisfied with an interesting weekend. I don't understand people who refuse to explore at the weekend, and are content to stay in Seoul with only a couple of nights out in seedy Itaewon under their belts. Each to their own I suppose, but I know which I prefer and there is more of the same to come during the rest of the summer...



 
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