We arrived in Hong Kong late in the afternoon and caught an airport bus to our hotel - the YWCA - which proved to be a comfortable and reasonably priced place to stay. It was also on the main bus route to the harbour and the Star Ferry Terminal. It took an hour to reach our hotel from the airport - it was endless views of skyscrapers all the way! After settling in we braved the streets, trying to orientate ourselves but got hopelessly lost. Thankfully there was a odd shaped building near the hotel so we were able to find our way back eventually. We had trouble finding somewhere relatively inexpensive to eat - but I guess we had to expect that everything would be so much more expensive here.
Next morning we found the correct bus to take us to the shopping areas around the harbour. We browsed in Nathan Road for a while until the many Indian touts trying to sell us watches and suits made it too annoying to stay there any longer! We did love looking in the windows of the many jewellery stores there though - I've never seen such large diamonds, both in price
and carats, for sale before. We caught the ferry across to Hong Kong island - it was a very enjoyable and cheap trip. We didn't have much of a sky line view though as it was very misty (or polluted!). We did however catch the wrong ferry and ended up at the Wan Chai terminal instead of the Central terminal! Realising that it was too far to walk back we caught a taxi to the correct spot! After bypassing all the expensive glossy designer stores (I'm sure these stores are now the KMarts of the Asian cities as there are just so many of them everywhere) we headed to the famous 'ladder' streets - so called because they are basically narrow lanes of steps which head up towards the peak. They were fun to explore as they were lined with dozens of tiny antique stores, art galleries, stalls full of quirky fashions and cafes. Many of the stalls were displaying Chinese New Year products - all themed on tigers as it was the Year of the Tiger. As Jerry was born in that year he had to buy some of the gaudy products!
We stumbled on a very famous temple
- the Man Mo Temple - but though it looked fascinating I could barely spend 5 minutes in it due to the excessive smoke from the hundreds of spirals of incense burning. How people can stay there praying for long peroids astounds me. It was by far the smokiest temple we have visited on our whole trip! We wound our way back down to the waterfront and caught the ferry back across to Kowloon where we watched some of the local families queueing to take photos on the half dozen New Year displays which lined the waterfront. They consisted of colourful stands with tigers and hearts etc, each with different New Year greetings written on them, upon which you could sit to have your photo taken as a souveneir. Later that evening we explored the night markets along Temple Road. I was surprised to see stalls selling all manner of Adult Only items. In Australia it would only be sold behind closed doors. We finished the evening off in the chaos of the Ladies market - mainly rows of Tshirts and belts. There weren't any 'designer' handbags or watches on display but plenty of men trying to sell them from
books - I guess the police have tried to stop the sales of designer copies. Once you chose one from the books a phone call was made to somebody and five minutes later you had the item requested in your hand... It was all too busy for us so we caught a taxi back to the hotel - we actually could have walked home as the Ladies Market was virtually next door to the hotel!
A taxi took us to the flower markets early the next morning. Yet again they were a delight for the senses! I never tire of them. There were many small orange trees - totally covered with oranges - for sale. They are bought as New Year presents. Another interesting item were the strange woody plants covered in waxy yellow buds called Solanum which stay fresh for seven months. Another plant which is given to celebrate the New Year. Many of the shops' ceilings were strung with strands of them - it was very colourful! Later we walked to the nearby bird market which was fascinating. The walls were lined with bamboo cages - in each one was a singing bird. Their owners spend the morning
perched on tiny stools listening to them, and all the other birds hanging nearby, sing. A lovely way to pass the day! The market also sold everything to do with birds from hundreds of tiny china water bowls for the cages to net bags full of live crickets and beetles to feed to the birds.
Leaving the bird market we caught the MTR (underground railway) under the harbour to Hong Kong Island again for more shopping. I left Jerry there eventually and headed back across the harbour to visit the Art Gallery. There was an exhibition of early Chinese court gold including an amazing jewelled crown. A large part of the crown comprised of Kingfisher feathers. It was a superb display and I made Jerry visit it the next day. He also thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some marvellous views of the skyline from the gallery as well. I had never seen so many skyscrapers - they just seemed to go on and on!
Our last day in Hong Kong was spent at Victoria Peak. We planned on catching the train up to the top but one look at the dozens of people waiting to buy tickets on it made
us decide to hire a taxi to take us up. It was a twisty drive but we were rewarded with marvellous views across the harbour to Kowloon from the viewing platform on top. A blue sky day though the horizon was still misty unfortunately. I spent a couple of hours browsing the shops there and enjoying coffee and cake (and the view) whilst Jerry went for a walk along some of the paths which circled the peak. My feet had done enough walking on hard cement during the previous few days and were quite sore! We caught a bus back down to the harbour and enjoyed our last trip back across the water on the ferry. That evening we joined the crowds which lined the shoreline to watch the nightly light show. It was very pretty with all the buildings highlighted in changing patterns of lights and the sky streaked with green laser lights. A lovely way to end our few days in a city I've always wanted to visit! Next stop - and last - Taipei! Home in four days......
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