Flying in an easterly direction around the world is a strange feeling, especially when it means waking up and preparing for breakfast at 2:00 pm Hong Kong time. Our short flight from Manchester to Zurich took us over northern France where we had been five weeks before. On a clear night the lights of Paris looked fabulous. After a quick stop off in Zurich we departed for Hong Kong. The flight was uneventful but it was interesting to see the flight path on the screen in front of us. We zigzagged our way across Europe and Asia flying south of the Himalayas.
As we approached Hong Kong the captain announced that the temperature was 33° and thunderstorms and heavy rain were expected. It was not until we got to our hotel room we read that the thunderstorms were in fact Typhoon Nesat coming across the South China Sea after creating havoc in the Philippines. The brochure in our room told us what to do during a typhoon. At this stage the alert was at Level 3.
During the night wind could be heard outside our 20th floor window but seemed no more than a reasonable nor’wester back in Canterbury. Next morning
we decided to head across to Hong Kong Island for some retail therapy. It may come as a surprise to some but after six months travelling we are coming home with bags much lighter than when we departed. As we left the hotel we noted the typhoon warning had risen to Level 8! Small pieces of tree debris littered the street along with rubbish from bins and bags left out overnight.
We took the MTR train to Central Station on Hong Kong Island, unaware that the locals knew more than we did. The streets looked empty and many shops had not opened. Eating places were ready for business but had very few customers. The trams were not running so by now we knew things were different. We asked a local who informed us that everything might start again at 2:00 pm if the weather improved. There was nothing more we could do but return to Kowloon and check out some market streets. However, the streets were lined with bundles of framing all neatly tied up; evidence that the markets were not going to open today. Large fabric advertising signs were hanging in shreds. As we checked out the market streets
we found ourselves trapped in torrential down pours. Just when we thought it was safe to move another deluge fell from the skies. After dashing from one small verandah to the next we managed to get back to the hotel reasonably dry.
Later in the evening it seemed to clear and we headed out for dinner. Clear skies brought out the shoppers and shops began to open. Life appeared to be getting back to normal on the streets of Hong Kong. By the time we arrived back at the hotel the typhoon warning had reverted to 3.
It had been an eventful day and one to remember. Tomorrow we have plans to head for the New Territories and meet up with a friend from New Zealand who has been living in Hong Kong for several years. The forecast is not great but at least we are not likely to be affected by the typhoon.
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