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Anywhere but the UK Almost three years of saving and hard work since graduation have culminated in this trip. My inspiration has come from reading inumerable atlas's and watching the quality output of the BBC ever since I was a kid. My route has changed in it's scope and length since my orignial ideas. The theme however,remains the same: to get beyond the shores of our tiny island and to experience and explore the world beyond. Oh and to have a good time and not work for six months!

Hong Kong

HONG KONG | Sunday, 22 July 2007 | Views [922]

How British will Hong Kong be, was a question I mused over as I made my way down from Shanghai and the first signs were encouraging.  Despite the usual bullshit involved in crossing an international frontier the immigration officers actually smiled, as they asked for my passport in their Home Counties tinged accents.  This was surely a good omen.  During my time in Beijing CCTV9 (Chinese state TV) had subjected me to endless loops of happy cadres marching the truimphantal music celebrating the 10th annviersary of Hong Kongs return to the ‘motherland’.  It turns out that all of this was, probably, beautifully choreographed Chinese propaganda.  I haven’t, yet, seen anyone waving the flag or any signs of real Chinese influence, apart from shitloads of Chinese people!  There are even people protesting, and actually seeming to give a shit, about human rights abuses, so in that respect not really like home.

So Hong Kong; it’s kind of like being back home.  Well the nearest I’ve been to it in four and a half months: some of the money here still has the queen’s head on it.  Added to this there is the culture shock of having throne toilets back, instead of squats, and toilet paper.  It’s too much all in one go I’m not sure how I’m going to cope when I get back home!

The city itself is crowded; very, very crowded, 6,352/km2 crowded.  There was me thinking that the UK was crowded with a mere 242/km2, this place is hardcore!  How do you cram so many people into such a small area, I thought before arriving?  After I measured my ‘ensuite’ room; 3.5m x 1.6m, weighing in at exactly 6.3m2 of floor space, I discovered their secret.  I think the term windowless cell is probably a fairer description, but for only $80/night I can’t complain, at least it’s private, which in a city with this many people is a nice luxury!

Despite the population density, and this is what really surprised me, it is still possible to get away from people.  I have to admit my ignorance here, before arriving in Hong Kong I had never really paid the geography much attention.  Surprising really considering the fact that I am normally a complete geek about such matters, but sadly it’s true.  I believed Hong Kong to be, simply, a dense city spread over a tiny amount of continental China and a tiny island of the coast.  I was, therefore, surprised to find out that the territory comprises a number of off shore islands, one of which is bigger than Hong Kong itself, along with the rather vast 794km2 of New Territories.  And this is its charm.  It is possible to one minute be standing in Kowloon overlooking Victoria Harbour, one of the busiest shipping lanes on the planet, to then, only half an hour later, find yourself in a bustling little seaside town complete with sandy beach and rugged coastline.  So this is where I have spent half of my time, away from the big city and out exploring the ‘countryside’?

The city itself isn’t bad either, electronics are cheaper than at home and on top of this the flats in which I am staying is possibly one of the most multicultural places I’ve been to.  There are people from all over Africa and the Indian subcontinent rubbing shoulders with pasty white, sometimes lobster hued, tourists along with more Chinese people than you could shake a stick at.  This means a number of things: firstly loads of hassle from Indian tailors and Moroccan hashish dealers, but secondly, and this is another thing that makes me feel at home: great curries.  Not only great curries, but also affordable great curries, which is pretty impressive in a town where most meals seem to cost at least $80 or £5.50.  Maybe that doesn’t seem so great now it’s written down, but what the hell.

Tags: Culture


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