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Published: July 18th 2011
promenading in Hong Kong
narrow streets mean more building space
We have now been home longer than we were away and I am finally getting around to the last post. This makes me so glad that we carried a laptop with us and I was able to keep mostly update while we were on our travels.
Our day packs were a little overfull for the return flight to Hong Kong as I had purchased a silk stuffed pillow. Arriving back at Hong Kong airport, being the savvy travelers that we are (some times) we decided not to buy the 3 day MRT tourist pass as we figured that we wouldn’t be using it to its maximum value. So we just bought a train ticket into the city and loaded 50 HKD each onto our existing cards – that should do us for the next couple of days. Any money left over is refunded when you hand the card back in. I love the efficiency of this system
We were now staying with friends Zeke and Marlene in the Wan Chai district on Hong Kong Island. Arriving at their apartment we were reunited with our luggage and then left with them on an exploratory walk from Wan Chai to Soho
and return. Sights were a mix of crowded street markets to the some of the most incredible skyscrapers I have ever seen. There were bars everywhere, most of them being open to the streets and by later that evening, the streets were crowded with drinkers (mostly ex pats).
Hong Kong reminds me a lot of Wellington with its steep streets and harbour views. We took a ride up the Mid Levels escalator which is the worlds longest covered out door people mover and which runs from the business district of Central to the residential area of Mid Levels (hence the name) – this saves a lot of uphill walking. From 6am to 10am the escalator runs downwards only in order to get people to work and then from 10:20am to midnight it runs uphill.
We happened to be in the right place at the right time and watched a lion dance which scares away evil spirits and brings good luck and fortune. This event was for the opening of a store. Each lion is operated by two people – one is under the papier-mâché head and the other is the rear of the lion. The back person has
his head up the butt of the front one, which makes the acrobatics and balancing acts even more impressive. There are some great utube videos such as:
“Our lions” operated on a smaller scale only have 4 sets of pillars to cavort on, but was no less impressive.
The next stop on our evening promenade was over to Kowloon to watch the nightly “symphony of lights” - the night time view of the skyline and buildings of Central district is spectacular enough – then add in the sound and light show which includes laser beams and spotlights from over 40 buildings on both sides of the harbour – all to live music – pretty amazing!! And it was free!
I have commented before on the swells in Victoria Harbour – the return trip on the Star ferry proved to be quiet exciting when they actually had to raise the gangway and prevent passengers from disembarking as the water movement was about four feet. Everyone around us was saying that this was a very rare occurrence!
As well as the very efficient MTR system, Hong Kong Island also has double decker trams which have been operating on
the north shore since 1904. We returned to Wan Chai and dinner using this older and very interesting mode of transport.
By now we were a little peopled out so escaped to Lamma Island (one of Hong Kong’s 260 outlying islands) for an excursion in the countryside. We caught the ferry from the piers at Central for the 25 minute trip to the main village of Yung Shue Wan. On route we got another great perspective of the HK skyline and the mass of residential skyscrapers. Getting off the ferry with the masses (it was Good Friday which is observed as a public holiday in this non christian country – so much for peace and quiet – everyone else had the same idea as us!) we passed through the narrow streets of the village, trying not to be tempted too much by the interesting shops and stalls. The plan was to walk across the island to Sok Kwu Wan for the return trip to Central. The trail was paved the whole way and after most of the locals stopped off at Hung Shing Yeh Beach, we pretty much had the trail to ourselves for the hour walk. Sok Kwu
Wan comprises mostly of a strip of seafood restaurants right on the water. On the land side, each restaurant displays it’s “food” in tanks so you can pick and choose from a wide variety of seafood. In addition, you run a gauntlet while walking the narrow pavement between the restaurants as they are all vying for the tourist dollar. Lunch was most delicious!
Back to the city and it was time for a Shanghai pedicure where all dead skin and calluses from 10 weeks of walking was scraped away.
The next day, Marlene took us on a shopping trip to Shenzen in mainland China – our multi entry visas for China were coming in handy. The MTR got us to the HK /China border in no time and we first went through HK immigration and then through China customs and then it was shopping time – again. The mall is pretty much a five story market with a grid of small stores - missy missy wanna buy a watch?, missy missy wanna buy a purse? – all knock offs of course, although Kelly thinks that maybe the jeans he bought were actually originals although seconds. The sellers were
some of the most aggressive I have ever come across – they had a grip like a vice as they dragged you back to their store to complete a sale.
Our final day and we visited the ICC building in Kowloon which is the tallest building in Hong Kong (118 stories and 1588 feet (484 m) and the fourth highest in the world. Luckily for us, the Sky100 indoor observation platform (on the 100th floor) had opened the week before so it seemed the perfect way to end the trip. The high speed elevator took us from the entrance to the observation floor in just 60 seconds – other than a mild ear popping, we weren’t even aware that we were moving. The views from the 360 platform were amazing – every building in HK is so tall and we were looking down on them!!
Our 18 kg combined luggage when we left home had grown to 44 kg and we had to borrow a bag to get everything in. Cathay Pacific has an in town check in center at the MTR station in Central which made things quite simple as it was a short taxi ride from
Zeke and Marlenes. Once checked in and rid of our luggage it was simply another train ride out to the airport and we would be on our way – sounds simple enough. Suffice to say that while our trip had started with an aborted landing in Mumbai because of a dog on the run way, our trip ended with an aborted departure because of a major snafu in our ticketing from British Airways. A long 12 hours after our first attempt to check in, we were on our way home!!
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