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Published: November 20th 2009
I’m not too sure how 4 days of traveling can feel like months but when 12pm rolled around and I was due to get in a taxi and then onto a shuttle bus to the airport to catch my flight from Xian to Gaungzhou my mood was akin to that of a traveler who has hit the six month mark on a round the world trip.
I hadn’t realised just how much personality was lacking till I had a rather annoying taxi catching episode en rout to the airport shuttle bus. I was assured by the lady at the front desk of the backpackers that I need only find a taxi and tell the driver “Melody Hotel” but her assurances proved useless since attempting to communicate the simple instruction to countless taxi drivers was to no avail, even an attempt to enlist the help of a nearby policeman proved fruitless and my mood was growing increasingly less cheery and the thought of hauling all my stuff down and then up the busy intersection underpass to find a bus or to head back to the hostel to get the lady to scribe the directions for me was far more than my
personality could take! Thankfully I noticed a youth hostel sign and followed it a short way and found a very nice lady who wrote some directions down for me to prevent the bomb of frustration from exploding and on round two of taxi hailing I only got shafted by one driver before I was finally on my way to the Melody hotel, 40minutes later quietly stewing with annoyance! Thankfully the shuttle bus was outside the hotel and within an hour I was at the airport and they didn’t say anything about my very well overweight luggage!
Due to weather conditions, AKA heavy pollution, our flight was delayed which was possibly a good thing 'cause it gave me some time to warm my icy mood for a short period.....until I found myself on the plane, sitting next to the most annoying Chinese man ever. He spent the entire time badgering me about things, 1st it was 'cause he thought my ipod was a phone so he was telling me off, in his most articulate Chinese, about disobeying flight regulations, next he was writing stuff in Chinese and showing it to me with some weird gesticulations none of which I understood.
You know its polluted when
Such annoyance continued the entire 2 hours, even while I busied myself in an attempt to bore him and stop him from hucking me! All I can say is, I don’t think I have ever disembarked from a plane that quickly and now I know why I always pick an aisle seat and never a window seat!
Unfortunately, due to our flight delay and the age we waited for our luggage to come off the plane, I wasn’t able to catch the flight out to Hong Kong so I had to resort to the train. So yet again it was out of the airport and onto yet another shuttle bus for an hour, coupled with a good half a km plus walk from the shuttle terminus to the train station, through customs and finally onto yet another train bound for Hong Kong. It was a truly epic day of transportation and it was only at 8:30pm when I was finally sitting on the comfy train bound for Hong Kong that I realized that it was the 8th of November making it my Birthday! Oh well they say after 25 you stop counting and I think I’m OKwith that idea
You know its polluted when
I was so excited to be heading to Hong Kong that I was some how forgetting that I had zero plans on arrival, in fact I hadn’t even ear marked a place to stay, so I was just crossing fingers that the customs official on the other side wouldn’t scrutinize the address I had provided on the customs form “Hong Kong Backpackers”, very original I know, I was quite thankful when the customs official waved me through in her very official manner without a question. Once in the clear, I realized I was somewhere in a train station in Hong Kong, it was 10:30pm and I was officially a lurka so in an attempt not to have to sleep in the train station for the night I found myself a Wi-Fi connection, did a little googleing, found yet another taxi and headed to Mongkok and the minute we started down the road the excitement about my week in Hong Kong completely enveloped and erased any frustration from the day!
Monkok and Hong Kong in general, is a frenetic place jam packed with people, lights, shops and cars but what struck me most was that I heard as
In the Air
Above the pollution
much English as I did Cantonese. When I showed a lady the Chinese direction that I had, she responded in English when directing me to Sincere House, it was awesome! Fortunately for me the dodgy overpriced dragon hostel rooms amid the passages of Sincere House was full so I headed down the passage, found a slightly better spot who’s available single room wasn’t serviced, due to a late check out, so I managed to commandeer a four person room for the price of a single room for the night finally giving me some space to spread out and sort my life out a little.
Accommodation in Hong Kong is minute, to say the least, and while the room allowed plenty of space for me to get myself together I have no idea how that space would have sufficed for two people let along four and it was pricey! I decided to spend my first morning organising myself so I headed to the post office to relieve myself of 9 of my 27kgs of luggage and once I was sufficiently chilled out I repacked my somewhat lighter bag and decided to go in search of Chungking Mansion to find myself
In the Air
Above the pollution
some less expensive accommodation for the four nights that I’d be in Hong Kong.
Chungking Mansion, the Mumbai/ Abuja of Hong Kong, is a very very interesting spot to say the least (incidentally, I found an Indian guy with the best veggi samoosas I’ve ever eaten) and while my room was at most 1,5m x 2m big it was very clean, had Wi-Fi in my room, it was very close to the Star Ferry and it was relatively cheap so it proved to be a perfect base for my five days of down time.
Most people say that three days in Hong Kong is more than enough and in truth if you are just heading to Hong Kong to sight-see and shop, well then I would agree but if you are happy to chill out and have a holiday you could easily find that even five days is not enough! Hong Kong is just stunning, maybe I just loved it because it looks like Cape Town, feels like Jo’burg, is super cosmopolitan (it was so nice to blend into a crowd for a change rather than stand out like a sore thumb) or perhaps cause it was 28
In the Air
Above the pollution
°C with blue sky, super clean and super safe as well as being ‘user friendly’ I don’t know, but no matter what the reasons I found myself in love with the city and trying to find a way to move there! I think Hong Kong was just what I needed in order to get myself back on track, chilled out and ready for my proper travels with Kenny that were due to kick off on the Friday!
I spent the remainder of my first day on an open top bus checking out Hong Kong Island and stopping in at the really charismatic temple of Man Mo. Man Mo temple is really enchanting and one of the most ambient temples that I have visited. It’s a small temple tucked among the buildings along Hollywood road on Hong Kong Island but what made it so great for me was the thick air of incense omitted by the decorative, coiled incense burners that hang from the roof and burn for seven days each. The decor in the temple and the incense burners give the temple an ethereal aura and kept me intrigued for ages before my senses decided that they had had
I wanted to try and put this into practice
their fill of the intense incense aroma. So I headed back out onto Hollywood road, hopped back on the bus, continued on the open top bus around the city, stopped off at Wan Chai market and finally hit Nathan road for some dinner before retiring for the night ending a great first taste of Hong Kong!
The rest of my days were spent shopping, tasting local food checking out Victoria Peak, visiting Aberdeen to see how the fishermen of the harbour live, setting out on the boat for Lantau island to visit the big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, walking up wisdom path among the wooden pillars, taking the 5km cable car ride, visiting just about all of the markets, haggling in the warm rain eating scrumptious seafood and cashew nut stir-fry on Temple road and just really enjoying taking in what Hong Kong’s mainland and Island had to offer!
One particularly special excursion for me was the trip down to Stanley. Stanley is just the most stunningly quaint beach side town and at sunset it really is magic. I was kicking myself a little that I hadn’t discovered it earlier and spent some more time there on
its lovely beaches but yet another reason why Hong Kong deserves another visit hey! My week in Hong Kong was an amazing week of frenetic yet somehow relaxing (if such a contradiction can be comprehended) fun and I can’t wait to get back to Hong Kong so that I can check out Macau and the rest of what the stunning city state of Hong Kong has to offer!
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