Hong Kong

Now this is one I had been looking forward to!

Back in Japan, Janet had been researching Hong Kong as she was going to go here for golden week. She was really psyched and this passed straight on to me when I was there. Now I was disappointed I only had 2 1/2 days here… in fact if it hadn’t been for Ko Tao being so awesome I might have moved the flight forward (as I can do, for free, on the oneworld Explorer ticket).

Anyway, I landed and didn’t really have anywhere lined up to go. I hadn’t done any research before I left and my iPod hadn’t kept the pages I had hastily opened about Hong Kong as I left the bar the night before. Fortunately, Hong Kong International Airport has free WiFi everywhere! So I parked up and got straight onto Wikitravel about Hong Kong, eventually setting on the southern end of Nathan Road in Kowloon.

I got there on the airport bus after spending ages wondering if I should take the train (hint: the airport bus is about 40 minutes and 1/3 of the price of the 20 minute train). As soon as I jumped off the bus I had Indian and Pakistani touts throwing themselves in front of me trying to get me into kickback-paying guesthouses! One of them even followed me a good 50 yards! I eventually had to turn to him and threaten to call the police after he tugged my arm. I shook them off by taking cover in Starbucks, reading Wikitravel a little more and then heading for the Cosmic Guesthouse in Mirador Mansions.

On the way, an American (who I later learned was called Jeff) helped me out no end in getting past the touts again. His best tip, have your iPod in at all times and sunglasses on during the day, it makes them give up quicker.

Now, Mirador Mansions (and Chungking Mansions for that matter) is a giant apartment building essentially, 16 floors that are pretty extensive, and they are sublet to different businesses. So, your guesthouse won’t be an actual house, just a group of sublet apartments (in fact, those apartments have been further carved up into rooms). The room I got was 150HKD a night, or about £15. That got me a tiny room. Basically I could sleep in it and have a shower, and sit on the bed to use the laptop, no cartwheels!

I went out and had dinner at the award winning Super Star Seafood restaurant. The waiter was trying to tell me that San Miguel was “local beer”… I promptly inspected the can and found “imported” on the side of it… when pressed, the waiter gave the only answer I would accept, brewed in China just across the border… local enough. You win this round.

130HKD/£13 lighter… I headed to the Irish bar and started sinking Tsing Tao’s (the name of which I mispronounced and was promptly admonished by the staff*). I got talking to another travelling couple, Dave & Orla. And low and behold, Jeff arrived and we got talking, then another guy, Simon, who Jeff knew, turned up. The night was on!

Many rounds, great banter later I stumbled back to Cosmic and had to give my passport number as I entered Mirador Mansions! Thank god I have it memorized now (if not I would have just written anything down).

Anyway, the next day I went out, tried to find some Dim Sum but got distracted by… this!

CIMG5613 The view from the Avenue of the Stars

CIMG5622 When I snapped this I knew it was a keeper!

CIMG5625 Sort of a metaphor… those are stars, sideways on. I couldn’t tell you why I liked this spot so much, but it’s great!

Anyway, after that I headed up to Mongkok, where the better markets are… I found this!

CIMG5628 Paging all Scots! If your missing a potato castle I can tell you where it is!

I then headed up to the computer markets for a bit… I admit I was having quite a good time.

Ok… fast forward to heading to Admiralty station and then the Peak! But on the way, I went through Hong Kong Park!

CIMG5632 Weird Building Alert!

CIMG5635 The inside of the conservatory was pretty good!

CIMG5661 And the Aviary was easily the most impressive structure I saw in all of Hong Kong!!!

CIMG5674 Inside and out!

CIMG5685 After that it was time for a tram ride up the peak. Does this give you an idea of just how steep this tram line was!?

CIMG5687 Perhaps this will… I assure you the camera is vertical!

CIMG5691 Maybe this is a better way to show it… certainly more interesting!

At the top I could see this was panoramic photo territory!!!

HongKongPano1 The iconic shot (click on it for the more impressive large version)

CIMG5718 I got a fellow traveller to take this form me, apparently I am thinning right down?

A lot of people thing they are paying 33HKD for a good view, that’s it… at the top of the peak there is plenty to see and do. If nothing else, go for an explore and see what you find. There are well marked walks. It amazes me how this place isn’t just a city and a centre fro global trade and business. Your not far from camp sites, nature and beautiful hilly terrain that even a Yorkshireman envies!

CIMG5724 One of the parks at the Peak!

HongKongPano2 The view from another angle (again, a larger version awaits if you want it)

After that I headed to Causeway as the traveller who took the photo of me in front of the view told me there was good shopping there.

CIMG5735Well it’s pretty diverse, the sexual health shop was a surprise!

Then I headed back to the guesthouse for a chill out and email check.

That evening, without the camera, I headed to Temple Street market. This place was mostly Tourist stuff but there were some interesting finds to be had if you looked hard enough (and believe me, you did need to look hard)!

CIMG5736 Night markets are something we should have in Europe!

Dinner was Wonton Soup (ahh… magnificent!) with several bottles of Chinese beer who’s name I have forgotten.

The next day I woke up ridiculously late, 10:30!! And I didn’t get away from the guest house until 12 because of urgent emails!

CIMG5737 Where I went, Canton Road! Look at the scale of it all!

I mostly just shopped and saw the sights. I was gift shopping etc.  I ran into Dave & Orla again, by chance, in a shopping centre and had a good catch up. We resolved to go out that evening.

CIMG5742 This might not be the best place for me! I may never leave 😛

I spent the rest of the day back at the computer market and the surrounding area, then trying to locate a post office! Harder than it sounds (it actually took up most of my time)

CIMG5747 It might be geek heaven 😛

Anyway, once the Post Office had finally be found, I chilled out in the guesthouse and caught up on the emails again and then headed out to meet Dave & Orla.

A great night of food, gift buying and boosing on that cheap Chinese beer was had! 12HKD for a big bottle of beer is quite addictive and we ended up getting drunken takeaway! I shouldn’t have had that Big Mac… meal… but I did!:P A great night!

Today, I had a few hours to kill so I went back to the Avenue of the Stars. Once I got there I was ambushed by loads of school children on a Geography Trip, who were all doing surveys of tourists! I couldn’t say no (I remember being them!) so I ended up answering 15 surveys. Highlights include the one where there was not a lot of verbal questioning, more things like eye, ear and head shape! So I had this school child sort of staring at me, the writing stuff down, the staring again! The younger ones, who were making a real effort with their English, surrounded me in a large group and read in chorus! That has to be cheating!

I also found the clock tower… some one tell me why it’s important… I haven’t had a chance to read up about it!

CIMG5775 It’s a good photo though!

And then it was time to head to the airport again, I’m writing this on the flight to Perth.

I will be back Hong Kong! It’s got a lot to offer!

* not really 😛 Ring was great fun