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Published: October 4th 2009
The Chinese National Holiday week found us flying off to Hong Kong for a few days. It is only a short flight away from here to Shenzhen, just over an hour, where we can catch a bus for the one hour or so ride across the Hong Kong border to the main part of the city. It is easier for a foreigner to travel to Hong Kong than a Chinese citizen!
As soon as we crossed the bridge into Hong Kong, we could see a big difference in almost everything. People actually drove like they do in other parts of the world. They stopped at intersections, stayed in their own lanes and obeyed signal lights. Because of the British history, driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and roundabouts are everywhere. We also noticed a distinct lack of honking anywhere, except for the odd timid noise here and there. Skyscrapers were clean and shiny and squished together in dense formations in every direction. Yep, this was definitely a different place from Wuhan. And these were just our impressions in the first five or ten minutes.
We landed at the bus terminal in Kowloon and proceeded to try
to find out where our hotel was. Of course, I forgot all my information that I had carefully printed out in Wuhan so we had no map or address. All I had was the name of the place. We flagged down a taxi and proceeded to tell him the hotel we were staying in. He had never heard of it and had no idea where we wanted to go. But he spoke good English and immediately got on his cell phone to find out if anyone knew of the place. Ok, this was not a good sign! After several calls, he finally got the information he needed but started shaking his head, "Not good...not a good place." Great, our confidence was increasing by the minute!! He proceeded to tell us that it used to be under a different name, went bankrupt and then reopened under a different name. When he found out how much we were paying per night, he was a little more cheerful but still hesitant about taking us there. But we were not fazed, we had made reservations over the internet and would at least check it out for one night.
We arrived and checked in.
The two people at the front desk were very pleasant and quickly got us set up. Up the elevator we went. Upon opening the door to the room, we realized just how small 100 square feet is! The double bed took up most of the room with a small walking space around one end and side. It was definitely cozy but clean and neat. The bathroom consisted of a toilet, shower and sink, all pretty much in the same place....ok, there was a foot or so between each one. But no towels, and no toilet paper. We knew this was a budget hotel but was it this much budget. I went back down to the front office and was quickly handed the above items. So after four days, we decided it was a pretty cozy little place in a great location right in the middle of Mong Kok. Despite being in the center of everything, it was not even that noisy at night.
It was soon obvious as we walked around that this was a lot of Britain with a little bit of China thrown in for good measure. Most people spoke English and many had British accents. As
we travelled around, we noticed there was a distinct lack of color in everyone's clothing...it was a sea of black and grey business attire wherever you looked. Definitely not Wuhan on that score where every street corner is a rainbow of fashion. But it was great finding totally English bookstores and software shops, as well as clothing that came in more sizes than 00. Prices were way more than here in Wuhan, but that was expected. For the most part, things we were interested in were priced comparable to North America. There were not a lot of bargains around and anything that was the least bit inexpensive would be found here for much less. We did buy a couple of things in the street markets and easily talked them down by 30-40%, especially once we said we lived in Wuhan. We loaded up on books and wined and dined in Italian, Mexican and Greek restaurants. We knew that would be our last chance for awhile!!
We spent four nights there and then returned to Shenzhen for one night at the Holiday Inn just to pamper ourselves a bit before returning home. We really didn't get to look around that
much but it also seemed like a fairly modern city with rules and regulations..lol. We realize more and more what a wild and crazy place we live in compared to other places we have been!! But that makes it all the more fun.
On the way out of the bus terminal from Hong Kong, as we were stopped at the first intersection, we witnessed a horrific accident from start to finish. A minivan slammed into the front corner of a car and flipped over onto its roof just meters away from us, landing on a stop signal pole as it flipped. Both vehicles were pretty much demolished...the driver of the car was apparently uninjured since he jumped out and ran over to check out the occupant of the upside down van, dialing on his cell phone at the same time. Luckily, it was his passenger side that had the engine pushed into it, not his side. We saw movement from the guy hanging from the top of the van by his seatbelt so hopefully he survived as well. We have been living in this city of terrible driving and have yet to see a serious accicent but within three
or four days we see this in Hong Kong, where people actually seem to follow the rules...go figure!
All in all, we had a great time. We got to know the layout of the place, and will definitely return to see more of the local sights. Luckily, my camera didn't decide to explode until the last day...you can catch the action in the video of the hotel room above! I guess it must have got a little damp or something.
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