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Published: April 5th 2009
Sending the wishes in Man Mo Temple.
So this is our final blog from China...sob, sob...and marks the end of our time in Asia. This leaves us feeling slightly sad as it has been a great few months, but we still have Oceania to explore so it's not all bad!
1st April 2009
We woke on our final overnight train at around 9am and were expecting a long day of travel down towards Hong Kong. We 'got up' as best we could (we were on the middle tier where you don't actually have enough room to sit up!), prepared our makeshift breakfast and settled down to an anticipated heavy session of reading. However, at 1pm, 4 hours earlier than we had expected, everybody strarted packing up their belongings and clear signs of movement started happening around us. We had our last mandarin interaction where we established that we were 15 minutes from Hong Kong. Result! This turned out to be a huge blessing in desguise as once we emerged in the tourist area of Kowloon - a notorious suburb - from the underground, we were seized upon by all sorts of shady characters looking to rent us a room. We bravely viewed a few, and quickly decided
Victoria Harbour and the Star Ferries.
that the 'Chungking Mansions' were not for us. Only slightly better, we headed for the next cell block along where we rented a shoe box of a room where Daniel cannot lay out straight and we cannot close the toilet door for lack of space. Unbelievably this is our most expensive room to date and up there with the worst.
Having shoved all our belongings under the bed and squeezed out of the room we walked around the Kowloon area - the mainland side of Hong Kong - where we quickly established that this would be an expensive four days. There are no cheap eats, and we can (un)happily lay to rest any notions that this is a bargain city for electronics!! Prices are higher than the UK. Despite this, the city is defintiely alive and kicking. Before bed we walked towards Victoria Harbour where we watched the Star Ferries crossing between us and Hong Kong Island and began to form a plan for our next few days.
2nd April 2009
We were on a Star Ferry for ourselves by 10am and heading over to Hong Kong Island. Once docked we headed along the promenade planning on taking in
the sights by foot. We started at Western Market, which is the old dock office and one of the earliest colonial buildings. From here we walked amongst dried sea food, herbal medicines and antiqueries, almost continually perplexed by what we were looking at/smelling! A few things we could recognise included; tortoise shells, dried birds nests, seahorses, and what appeared to be crucified flying lizards. We didn't stop to buy! Further along we stopped at Man Mo Temple which ranks as one of the smallest, yet most memorable, temples we have seen. Hanging from the ceilings were huge and numerous incense coils which held wishes/prayers to be carried to the Gods. The fumes and smoke added to the ambience of a beautifully crafted temple. Our tour ended at St Johns Cathedral and from here we caught the world famous - and timeless - Victoria Peak Tram up the 552m to Victoria Peak Tower. We timed our visit here to watch the sunset...or we would have had it not been overcast and misty. Nevertheless, as the cities lights came on we saw the skyline become alive and the Hong Kong everyone imagines revealed itself. We headed back down on the tram and
A moody night over Hong Kong.
crossed back to Kowloon on the Star Ferry in order to catch 'The Symphony of Lights' which is a light show 'performed' by the skyscrapers either side of Victoria Harbour. Pretty spectacular stuff.
We finished today eating true Hong Kong style sweet & sour chicken and then bought our tickets for the following day to Macau...
3rd April 2009
Passports ready, we stood in the queue to officially leave Hong Kong and enter Macau. Despite both countries having been returned to the Motherland both remain autonomous and each have different entry requirements. We were stamped into Macau for 6 months (we were planning on being there until 6pm that day!) and then walked the peninsular before heading into the centre to experience the distinctly Portuguese flavour of the city. If the English influence is still (vaguely!) apparent in Hong Kong then Macau could be Portugal! It was like walking through a classic European city where the buildings were bright and colourful with shuttered windows and the streets were cobbled, narrow and winding. At the peak of the city centre we were faced by the remains of the Church of St Paul; reputedly the greatest monument to Christianity in Asia
A Symphony of Lights at Victoria Harbour.
- and it quite literally is remains as only the west front has survived. Quite a conservational feat, to have preserved a single yet, grand ancient facade. We then meandered through the steets, taking in the vastly different, relaxing atmosphere of Macau, before heading back to our ferry.
Back on the busy streets of Kowloon we shopped till we dropped in Temple Street market - anyone who has commented on our blog more than three times wins a prize! - before forcing ourselves back into our room!
4th April 2009
After a lazy morning, and organising the final loose ends of this leg of our trip, we headed back out , this time toward the Goldfish Market, which - unsurprisingly - was somewhere that you can purchase a range of goldfish! Bizarre, but a colourful place. We then headed back over to Hong Kong island for the last time, where we witnessed the flag lowering outside the convention centre, directly infront of the commemorative monument handed to HK upon returning to China. Back in Kowloon, we stopped into the local Irish Bar, just to see what it looked like, you understand........One guinness, one cocktail, one more meal of sweet
Ruins of the Church of St Paul.
and sour, and one more lap of the markets, and our time in China is almost up. We headed back to pack and spend the last night in our shoe box.
5th April 2009
And so today we leave! We really are sad about moving on, we've loved our time in China. We had high hopes for the country, and its fair to say its surpassed all of them; it has everything here. We will spend our last few hours relaxing, and for the last time, people watching.
See you in Sydney!
Love to you all
H and D
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