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Hong Kong, Hong Kong

HONG KONG | Saturday, 22 November 2008 | Views [924] | Comments [4]

I arrived in Hong Kong yesterday without any problems. The train station in Guangzhou was fairly clearly marked and I breezed through immigration and customs and found the platform for Hong Kong.

After waiting a good hour to leave the station, we were powering at 200kmph through the feilds and cities of Guangdong province. I believes it usually takes about an hour and a half to get to Hong Kong from Guangzhou, but with this trains constant stopping for no aparent reason, it ended up taking us closer to two and a half. (The bad train experience reminded me of Sydney! Hehe)

As we got closer and closer to Hong Kong, the terrain changed dramatically. Suddnely the rice feilds and duck farms gave way to huge towering mountains and tropical foliage.

Finally I arrived at Hung Hu train station, right in the heart of Kowloon city and after a short (but expensive) taxi ride, I arrived at my hotel. I'm staying just off the main street of Kowloon, Nathan Road, in The Cityview Hotel which used to be to old YMCA building. It's small, but clean and relatively inexpensive for Hong Kong, which is know for it's expensive accomodation.

After a rest, I went for a walk, being careful not to stray too far from Nathan Road so I didn't get lost. The streets are FILLED with people and walking down Nathan Road is something of a challenge. It feels almost like an obstacle course, as you dodge people, prams, shop stalls and the occasional begger. I walked for about two hours, mainly doing reconnaissance in order to take mental notes of where certain thing are for future use (eg: post box, supermarkets, taxi ranks, chemists, ATM's etc).

Getting back to my hotel room after my walk was a huge releif. All of the walking I've been doing on my trip has really been tuff on my poor leg (nerve damage) and recently I haven't been able to sleep properly because the damn things been twitching and cramping all night long. The best I can do is some yoga/stretching and massage every night before bed. And, oh my god, there's nothing like foot massage after a long days walking!! I bought some really good natural aloe and tea tree foot cream yesterday - it's a dream.

This morning, after finding it's location from the hotels reception, I headed straight to the China tourism and visa office. It happened to just be a few blocks from the hotel, which was lucky. I applied, and now have to wait until Thursday to get back my passport with the new Chinese one month visa added. It's an awful feeling being in another country and having to hand over your passport to a complete stranger for five days. I know it will be safe, but half of me doesn't feel right not having it on my person. It's a shame I need to apply for a new visa in the first place, but going from China to Hong Kong is considered as 'leaving China' and I only had a single entry visa, so re-applying is nessecary if I'm to return.

That Hong Kong has been back in the 'possession' of China for 11 years, doesn't really seem to change the fact that Hong Kong is incredibly different to the rest of China. As most know, China leased Hong Kong to Britian for 99 years during the first Opium War (part of The Treaty of Nanking in 1842). This has obvioudly had a profound effect on Hong Kong and has made it forever different when compared to mainland China. English is spoken by most and all of the signs in the city are written in both Cantonese and English. Import/export is different, and you can buy products here that you just cannot find in China, even in Beijing or Shanghai. There are huge amounts of British, Australia and American ex-pats living here, not to mention hordes of tourists from every country you could think of. It really is a bustling, vibrant and very multicultural city.

After my visit to the visa office, I took a stroll south down Nathan Road, towards Victoria Harbour. I passed Kowloon Park and decided to check it out. Up three flights of brick stairs I came across and beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. Trees, flowers, shrubs and an amazing bird watching area. I found somewhere to sit and watched the beautiful flamingos for a while.

There is much to do inside the Kowloon Park and after a while I came across the Hong Kong History Museum. Its free, which is nice and learning more about the history of Hong Kong was very interesting. I think I finally got an answer to why a lot of the architecture both here an in Xiamen looks Parisian. I thought it just looked Parisian. Turns out it really is Parisian. A lot of French opportunists came out here with along with the British after the first of the Opium Wars. Hence the weird mixture of Victorian, Parisian and Qing architecture.

After Kowloon Park I was intent on finding the harbour. I know it's only a bunch of skyscrapers, but seeing the harbour almost took my breath away. It really is amazing to see huge towering building with huge towering mountains directly behind them. The skyline of Hong Kong island is basically a mixture of mountains and buildings. I've really never seen anything quite like it.

I had lunch (just sandwiches and juice) by the harbour where I met a really friendly American couple who had come to Hong Kong from Japan, where they live, for the weekend. They gave me advice on the ferry system here, which is apparently cheap and efficient. I have to say HKD2.30 (AUD0.50) one way from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island is pretty cheap when you compare it to Sydney ferry prices!

When I got to Hong Kong Island I was confronted by A LOT of construction work. It seems they are re-building the entire forefront of the island. One good thing however, was that they have pedestrian foot bridges that snake their way over the roads through a lot of the city. So you can get from the ferry docks to the center of town without having to cross a road, which I think is pretty awesome.

I really didn't find much to see on Hong Kong island. I had to remember that I don't actually have a map of it - only of Kowloon - and I didn't want to get my self lost. All I could find were glittering shopping malls filled with Gucci, Prada, Armani and all the rest of that over priced designer bullshit. These things don't interest me and as I walked around I realised this was the least Asian part of Aisa I have been to. I could've been in Auistralia or England or the States. There was even jazz musicans playing Christmas songs in the forecourt. I got out of the mall and went down to a little park when I found the most AWESOME busker in Hong Kong - an Aussie guy who was playing/singing John Lennon songs. When he played #9 Dream, it brought a tear to my eye. I love that song. :)

The ferry ride back to Kowloon was choppy, to say the least. The wind had picked up and the little boat was tossed around like a toy in the bath. I'm quite lucky I choose the top deck because the entire lower deck and the passengers down there got completly soaked. We bobbed around and it took us a good 20mins before reaching the dock (usually takes about 10mins). I don't usually get sea sick, but I felt a little green after this experience.

I got off the ferry and after a little sit down I headed to The Space Museum and the Hong Kong Art Museum. Both were fantastic! I love the amount of culture here in Hong Kong. Everything seems to be specifically catered for the tourist, but not in a cheesy way.

At Victoria Harbour, with Hong Kong Island in the back ground. A nice American woman took this photo. Her and her husband were over in HK from Japan for the weekend.

At Victoria Harbour, with Hong Kong Island in the back ground. A nice American woman took this photo. Her and her husband were over in HK from Japan for the weekend.

 

Comments

1

Darling, it's such a relief to know that you've arrived safely in Hong Kong and are already enjoying the atmosphere. However, so sorry to hear that all the walking has exacerbated the problems with your poor old leg!

We are both looking forward to reading more stories about your adventures in Hong Kong (& elsewhere). Thanks for writing such detailed and interesting reports.

Much love always,

  The two of us Nov 23, 2008 1:26 AM

2

This entry isn't finished yet, because the internet is EXPENSIVE here at the hotel and I can't find any net cafes. It's $50HK for half an hour, which is waaaayyy too much. The concierge is sweet on me though, so he let me use it for an hour both times. hehehe.

  mazystar Nov 23, 2008 5:37 PM

3

Yes, that does sound expensive; hopefully you will be able to locate a good reasonably priced internet cafe soon, so you can write, without feeling pressured.

Also, we're impatient to see your plethora of pictures, so please try to purchase a USB cable, to enable you to upload them a.s.a.p.!(As a gauge,they're approx. AUS$12, i.e. in Australia.)

Lots of love,

  The two of us Nov 23, 2008 8:41 PM

4

I found one! Am in it now! :) Its only HKD20 per hour, which is better, although I've had a few problems with the computer.

Yeah, I should go and find a USB cord, but uploading photos takes TIME and time is money in net cafes. I'm here until Thursday, so I'll see what I can do before then. I've already found a new camera battery charger for only HKD35, which is a STEAL!

  mazystar Nov 23, 2008 8:43 PM

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