22.06.2010 25 °C
The arrival into Hong Kong is a shock to the system...after 2 months of dirt, chaos and mayhem it feels like we are wrapped in cotton wool in Honkers. Its SOOOO clean, everything seems to work and it is all very quiet. As we make our way on a perfectly tarmacced road to our hotel in Kowloon, we are both very quiet as we try to take in the scenery. Hong Kong is the polar opposite of India with order and organisation. It's somewhat unsettling after 2 months of lunacy...
Our first day is spent catching up on sleep and then taking a stroll into town. We are super impressed with the effiency of the metro...how cool is the Octopus card? It is their equivalent of the Oyster card in London but it allows you to do so much more. As we ponder over which, the Octopus or Oyster came first, we make our way onto the streets and are stunned into silence. We stop more than once as we try to take in the big, tall, gleaming skyscrapers and shops some of which are literally dripping in diamonds and gold. Gav can't quite get his head around the amount of cash in this place and I can't get my head around what a difference order and organisation makes and have a new found respect for pavements! No one bumping into us, no cars hooting at us to make way for them, no cows, no goats, no elephants. Its just people on pavements, what a beautiful sight to behold.
We spend the day exploring the city before heading back to Kowloon to see the Harbour Light Show at ther Avenue of Stars. When we get arrive there are two noticable things: firstly the number of people lining up their tripods for the light show, is seems like anyone who is anyone who has a camera must have a tripod and secondly (my fav) the music contest, we are not sure if its just some kids having fun with karoke or Hong Kong Idol either way it proves to be hugely popular and entertaining. The light show is a treat as the HK skyline is illuminated and the entertainment factor is cranked up even further as we spot a Previn look-a-like signing his heart out to Celine Dion on the Hong Kong Idol stage. We are still pretty knackered so its dinner and an early night for our first day.
We spend the next day with a trip to Mongkok to check out the electronics shops and markets. As we make our way through the shops I'm not surprised at the pushy sales tactics but the rudeness when you politely make your way out of the shop not having bought anything. It is also quite amazing how everything is "original" Canon, Sony, Apple etc...even though the label is clearly fake and falling off. We go back to our hotel empty handed and a quick scan on the internet deflates us just a teeny bit more as we realise that Honkers prices are actually more expensive than what we pay back in the UK. All is not lost though since afternoon tea awaits us at the hotel. There are few things more special than (proper) afternoon tea and afternoon naps and luckily for me Hong Kong is big on the British tradition of afternoon tea. How pleasing to the palate are cute cheese and cucumber sandwiches, tiny little cakes and pastries and best of all scones with lashings of clotted cream topped with a generous helping of champagne and strawberry jam? Yummy! Yum! YUM!!!
Suitably stuffed on sandwiches and cakes, we head back out to the mid-levels escalator. It is the longest in the world at 800 meters and quite a treat as we make our way up endless escalartors from the city through Soho and the higher levels of Hong Kong. Of course, what goes up must come down and since they don't have the world's longest escalator back down, its thirsty work and as we make our way down we stop in for a pint of Guiness at an English pub. Its the first one in a while and it has to be said it just isn't quite the same;(
Dinner tonight is supposed to be at the Pennisula Hotel, however, we are refused entry as I am wearing sandals. We are both starving hungry and more than a little pissed off when we see a lady leaving the restaurant in her sandals. Nonetheless, their loss is someone else's gain as we head to a small Thai place near our hotel.
The following day is spent with more explorations. Gav has been looking forward to dim sum and we manage to get a table at Maxims. I unfortunately cannot eat much since there aren't really any veggie options, but its still fun to see people scanning and choosing as the ladies go round with their carts. In the evening we head to the night market and it is exactly what one would expect from Hong Kong. Stalls selling everything under the sun stretching as far as the eye can see down the street. We plod along from one end of the street, poking our heads into random stalls and picking useless rubbish that we happen to love. Its gone midnight by the time we finish and parts of the market are still going strong. It has been a real fun day and we are looking forward to tomorrow as we leave for Samoa.
We spend our last day in Hong Kong going into town looking for some dodgy DVDs and CDs for our campervan in New Zealand. Our quest ends without any success as we can't find any dodgy DVDs or CDs!!!! We promise we looked in the dodgy side streets, pubs and markets but nothing. Feeling a little disappointed we head back to our hotel to collect our things and make our way to the airport.
Now I quite like Honkers, its what you would expect from a big city and since most big cities seem to be identikits of each other HK doesn't feel any different to London or New York. Sure the buildings are bigger and shinier but apart from that, you have the same shops, restaurants and bars. I liked it because I like the buzz of big cities, however, you do feel a little cheated when everything is the same the world over. Gav on the other hand didn't really take to Hong Kong that well, he feels that it is a little too sterile but I think anything would be after the crazy chaos of India.
We get a surprise when we get to the airport when we realise we have a day lay-over in Auckland before the connecting flight to Samoa. We also have to get our head round time travel since due to crossing the international date line we arrive in Samoa a day before we leave to go to Samoa! What a crazy life on the road