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Greg & Karen's Life Adventure Karen and I, in love, in life ; following our bliss


CHINA | Friday, 15 April 2011 | Views [528]


            It seems so long ago now that we flew hurriedly to Hong Kong, having finally ascertained that we did really, have to leave China due to the expiration of our work visas.

A pleasant flight landed us at the terminal on the island of  Chek Lap Kok  , just a causeway and bridge from the mainland of China. Now you may call me ignorant here but I was under the impression that Hong Kong was an island, well off the coast of China – no, no friends! Most of it is situated on the Mainland of China; that along with several nearby islands: one of which is Hong Kong Island; just a kilometre across the intervening strait from Kowloon.

We caught the shuttle bus to the cheapest accommodation we could find online; an infamous apartment building in Kowloon, boasting 50 plus small hotels; called the `Chunking Mansions’ situated a block from the waterfront, across from Hong Kong Island itself- perfect!

Dropped off with all our luggage, in the busiest street imaginable; we struggled inside the lobby, (actually the whole first floor)  crammed with small shops and hawkers, squeezed into the smallest elevators and eventually negotiated our way, via the check-in; to the smallest room possible. Now I kid you not; I have been in bigger closets than this. One person could walk along the foot of the queen-size bed and the remainder of the room contained an en-suite or rather an in-suite; as it was just big enough for a toilet and sink – and the shower was an  integral part of all this. In its favour, everything was spanking new, there was wireless internet and there was plenty of room on the bed. On the other hand, there was nowhere much for our copious luggage, the bed was rock hard and it was noisier than an English football crowd. This was to be home for 2 weeks while we waited for some offer of work in China.  

     Determined to soak up as much of this diversion as possible, we stepped bravely into the garishly lit main street of Kowloon, deftly sidestepped the waiting vultures selling copy watches , suits and hand bags and threaded our way through the flowing streams of people towards the water.  Being New Zealanders, we are always drawn to the sea and without a doubt, the Kowloon waterfront with its views across to the brightly lit city of Hong Kong Island, must rate up there with the best in the world. It was simply stunning – the buildings here are the highest and most densely packed of any city I have seen – reflected in the narrow channel of water between us; with heavy shipping/ boats of every description plying  these same waters; it was a never ending kaleidoscope of colour and light. Then, just when you think it can’t get better than this, at 8.00pm sharp, they turn on the now-internationally known light and music show – Tourists come here just to see this – from no-where, we were engulfed by people all jostling for a front row position which fortuitously, we had already secured. For the next 20 mins we were treated to a spectacular display of choreographed light and music, using laser beams and the variously lit buildings on both this side and the far side of the channel. It was amazing to watch and to contemplate the technology involved – like, how the hell did they do that ?

We wandered some of the nearer back streets, bought fish and chips from a takeaway place and generally revelled in the night life of one of the highest per capita, places in the world.

     This was to be our pattern for many days to come – we walked the streets for miles, explored the many parks and visited places of interest recommended on the guides. We took the funicular cable car up the mountain behind Hong Kong city, to the `Peak’ complex for the spectacular views on offer; we travelled by bus through the historic `Happy Valley’ where many of the inhabitants were buried on the mountain slopes and is now the biggest horse race-track in Asia; to the resort town of Port Stanley; we allowed ourselves to be driven to the `New territories’ on the mainland where much development is occurring and we lazed on a beach for an afternoon on the far side of the Island.

At night, we prowled the back streets for new places to eat and sights to behold – and everywhere there were people of such diverse description, religion and ethnic origin . It’s an extraordinary place which completely took our fancy – we could quite happily live in Hong Kong for a while. The Hong Kong Strait has been described by National Geographic journalists as one of the 10 best sights in the world – we certainly, never tired of crossing the water by ferry or just hanging out on the promenade, slurping ice-cream and marvelling at the constant passing parade of shipping and humanity.

   The cost of living is not cheap though and after 12 days we were seriously wondering what to do next and where to go – China was looking distinctly unlikely – my age seemed to be an obstacle, as was our lack of experience. That night we received an email from an agent we had met at the TEFL Course in Beijing – There was a university in China which wanted a couple of English teachers urgently to start asap. Well to make it short, we hurriedly obtained tourist visas and boarded a plane for Beijing 3 days later – had dinner with a friend that night and landed in Datong, Shanxi Province at 9.30am the next morning. We had made another hyper-jump into the great unknown.

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