Category Archives: Hong Kong

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The other side to Hong Kong

Travel dates: 26th – 27th October 2013

Hong Kong Day 4 (by Rich)

We started the weekend in Hong Kong with a trip out of the city. This is surprisingly easy. Unknown to us before this trip, the city of Hong Kong is surrounded by green areas perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities. There are many places to get away from the hustle and bustle and get back to nature. It is obvious the city is never too far away however there are many opportunities for peace and quiet are a total contrast to the fast pace of the city.

Our first day out was to Lantau Island. The main attraction here is Disney. This isn’t where we went. We headed for the slightly less popular, but still very busy cable car. Not having been prepared and bought tickets in advance we had two queues to navigate. First to buy a ticket and then to get on the cable car. For future reference, the first queue is easily avoided with a little pre-booking. In any case we were on the cable car in under an hour from getting of the metro so not too bad overall.

The cable car is about 25 minutes long covering 5.7km. As you ascend you get views of the airport where we watched several planes taking off. You can also see the trail below where more committed (or crazy) people can walk to the top. This was a bit much for us as it is quite a climb, especially in the hot and humid weather. As you near the top you see the main attraction come into sight, a big Buddha. We were relieved to see this as we had enjoyed the ride but wanted to get out of the confined space we had shared with 5 screechy Chinese ladies. The Chinese do seem to have only two volume settings – loud and louder.

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At the top we paid our respects to the big Buddha. We really like a big Buddha, and this one is huge. This one was a lot newer than others we had seen (completed in 1993) and cast from bronze. He was well worth the cable car ride up.

We only bought a single cable car ride as we were headed next to Tai O, a fishing village a short distance from the top. Although it is a short distance, navigating to it isn’t an easy task. We had the idea that we would walk down. We tried to find information on how to do this however the internet and national park office were both equally vague. We were about to head off when a change of heart and a waiting bus altered our course.

We hopped on the bus just before it departed and made a meal out of paying. In Hong Kong we had Octopus cards that you can use to pay for all transport. Being flustered after running for the bus I didn’t associate this and tried to pay with cash. After much fuss the driver just took my $11 in payment for a $13.20 ride. Moments after the debacle I realised I had a perfectly easy method of payment in my hand all along. Oops!

The drive to the fishing village took around 10 minutes down a winding road. We realised it was the correct decision to skip the walk as we would have had to follow this road or a trail that took a very round about route. Either way it would have taken quite some time to get down as a short distance as the crow flies would have been many miles via trails or road. Instead we had a walk around a fishing village.

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Tai O is a small fishing village that hangs on to some authenticity but is largely a tourist attraction. There are boat trips to see white dolphins but we passed on this as Vicki had heard they weren’t that special or comfortable (or safe). Instead we explored on foot seeing beaches, stilt houses and a wide variety of fish in the market, most of which were still alive.

A second bus took us across the island to a ferry port where we could get a boat back to central Hong Kong. This was a little bumpy so not appreciated by Vicki but I thought it was great fun. Also it provided another chance to see the fabulous views coming back to Hong Kong harbour.

The ferry left us in central so a second ferry was required to get back to Kowloon where we were staying. At this point we had a very special moment where I thought I had lost my Octopus card (remember the transport payment card). I figured I must have dropped it on the last ferry. We searched my many pockets and had almost given up and were off to buy a replacement ticket. When getting my money out I found the card in my bag even though we were sure we had searched there already. Having found my card Vicki could then no longer find hers which we had moments before. We searched all her pockets and were wondering if somehow the one we found for me was actually hers. I searched my pockets for the other one and found two cards there. Somehow I had obtained Vicki’s card as well as my own even though neither of us recalls her offering it or me taking it. Either the Octopus fairies were at work or we had been out in the sun for too long.

Back in Kowloon I went for a quick run while Vicki had a rest then we headed to the night market. Other night markets we have visited have been mainly about food. This one was firmly in the knock off clothes/bags/watches/electronics arena. This pleased Vicki though as we kitted her out with a Mulberry purse and bag for about £7 for the pair. We are pretty bad at bartering so go with a policy of “What would this cost at Primark”. We use that figure as a maximum to pay. Seafood at a restaurant on the street gave us post shopping energy ready to go for a drink.

We headed back to Lan Kwai Fong (where we met Sam from Morgan Stanley earlier this week). It was the Saturday before Halloween so the party was in full flow with many different costumes on show. We couldn’t find seats in a bar where we could people watch so instead got far cheaper drinks from a takeaway pizza place then stood in the street with them. There is no problem with drinking in the street anywhere in Hong Kong which was great for us. We joined the crowds milling around and enjoyed the party atmosphere.

Our night was cut a bit short as we weren’t prepared to stay on the opposite island and risk getting a taxi back. Instead the last subway left us with time for a last (and pretty expensive) beer back in Kowloon before heading to bed.

Hong Kong Day 5 (by Vicki)

We decided to use our final day in Hong Kong to see a little more of the greenery of the islands, and so decided on a hike on the far side of Hong Kong island, ending at a beach. Before this trip neither of us had realised that Hong Kong had beaches, and so we were keen to check them out.

After a painless metro ride, and a fairly painless bus ride (working out where to get off is the tricky bit) we were ready to start the hike. As we had been out late last night, this was now about midday, and there were definitely some mutterings about “mad dogs and Englishmen”. Nevertheless we started the trek along a path known as the “Dragon’s Back”. This basically meant a steep upward section to start followed by lots of undulations.

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By the time we made it to the top of the first section, we were sweating buckets – it was about 25 degrees plus. However, we certainly weren’t alone. Hiking is ridiculously popular in Hong Kong, and at times it was like a procession up the hill. However, the views from the various “peaks” made it worthwhile, even if you had to concentrate a bit to block out the tourists and locals (mainly expats but HK residents in any case) all vying for the same photo spot. It being Sunday, it was especially busy, with all sorts of people attempting the walk, from people in full hiking gear (including poles) to tourists in flip flops – I think we fell somewhere in the middle with our zip off trousers.  The walk is labelled as “challenging” and I’m not sure how some of the people managed in flip flops as there was a fair amount of clambering over boulders. One thing we noticed is that the people who design these nature trails are very keen on steps. Where ever they can put steps instead of a slope, they will do. This is surprisingly hard on the legs (especially when you have short legs like mine).

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After a couple of miles of up-and-down we came to a flat, shaded section and the crowds thinned out a bit. It was lovely and peaceful just wandering along the path

We eventually came to a cross roads with a sign pointing to the beach – only 2.5km to go! After a short tarmac, we came to a long downhill section that was all uneven boulders and rocks with no real path. so just to make the day more interesting, I decided that this would be a good place to turn my ankle. After a few minutes sit down and a not inconsiderable amount of swearing, I carried on walking down the hill and eventually made it to a small town, next to the beach.

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The beach was wonderful, with soft, golden sand, palm trees and clear water – as well as hundreds of other people also making the most of it. We managed to find a small space to squeeze ourselves into, and then spent a relaxing couple of hours reading our books and people watching, as well as watching the bruising on my ankle grow.

Rich had found that the next town along had a crazy golf course, so the original plan had been to go there – however, by the time we left the beach, my ankle was swollen, bruised and very sore so we headed back to the hostel. No mini golf for us this time Sad smile After hobbling up the hill to the bus stop we waited a long time for a bus to appear without any luck. We kept noticing little minivans with the name of the metro station on them pulling up every couple of minutes, but reviews we had read said not to get these buses. However in the end  we got fed up waiting and jumped in one for a slightly hair raising trip back to the metro station. We’re guessing that these were slightly less official buses, but it beat waiting around.

Despite having been in Hong Kong four days, we had so far only managed Dim Sum once, and so we decided to hunt out some more for dinner. Easier said than done! Dim Sum is traditionally only served at lunch time, and so this was an added complication. The ankle situation meant that I really didn’t want to walk far, I think we probably wandered for about 40 minutes before we found what we were looking for, despite looking up options on the internet before hand – either the place had closed down or didn’t really do Dim Sum, or we couldn’t find it. When we eventually found one of our recommended places Rich was so overcome he couldn’t open the door….there was a big door release on the side saying push, but Rich hadn’t noticed and kept wrestling the door until the waiter came and let him in! (Rich Edit: Vicki didn’t help here as she had seen the button but just stood saying “Push” repeatedly so naturally I was pushing the door. If she has said “Push the button” we may have made it inside quicker.)

The food was very good – lots of dumplings and spring rolls, and a surprising favourite of stuffed aubergines. By the end, it wasn’t just the aubergines that were stuffed, and we headed back on to the street. We had been invited to a BBQ by Rich’s friend Sam (who we met up with on Wednesday) that was being held at another one of Rich’s ex-colleagues from Morgan Stanley’s house (Chris), and so we headed over.

The first warning sign was that the taxi driver didn’t know where it was, and so only took us part of the way. We then faffed around for about 25 minutes trying to find the place. We were looking for a block of apartments in a development of hundreds of apartments, grouped into gated enclosure, which were all walled off from each other, making it impossible to walk between them! I was on the verge of going home at this point but luckily we found the right tower, and made it to the BBQ only about half an hour after we should have been there.

After a few beers we headed back to our hostel for the last time, to the unhappy task of packing again, all ready for the next move to Singapore.

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Away for a day to Macau

Travel date: Friday 25th October 2013

A short ferry ride from Hong Kong is Macau. This is another SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China. Where Hong Kong was run by the British for 100 years, Macau went to the Portuguese. It is a short distance from Hong Kong and taking only an hour on a ferry it is a popular day trip. This was our destination to split up our stay in Hong Kong.

An early start had us awake before the rest of Hong Kong. It is the first time we have seen the streets quiet and shows that Hong Kong definitely doesn’t get going before 8am. It was a short walk to the ferry terminal from our guesthouse. We got to about the right area quite quickly but by the time we had explored a few dead ends and shopping malls to eventually find the entrance we had just missed a ferry so had a half hour wait.

The ferry trip across was uneventful and gave me a chance to catch up on some blogging. Vicki on the other hand was happy to sit quietly as she isn’t a fan of boat trips. While I thought this one was quite smooth she would disagree.

In Macau we passed through passport control without incident and on the advice of a tour guide who was determined to sell us his services in spite of repeated refusals we boarded a shuttle bus to a casino. We were going to this casino later for lunch but more importantly this got us a free trip closer to the sights.

Our morning was spent exploring the old town with a mix of old Portuguese colonial buildings, church ruins and a fortress. We were very impressed by the old town and it was good to be there before the crowds of Chinese tourists descended later in the day. A particular highlight were the shops selling Cantonese sweet meats. After sampling a few of these we treated ourselves to a some to take with us. Basically this was sweet bacon so very tasty but no doubt very unhealthy.

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We really enjoyed exploring Macau’s old town. The mix of building styles creates a unique feel. At first glance you could be in Europe but closer inspection of shops and their contents pulls you firmly back to China. I guess Macau is what would happen if an entire Portuguese town was converted into a China town overnight.

The day was a bit hot for us. Our morning of sightseeing was already wearing us out. At one point while looking round a protestant cemetery we were almost set to drop and join the inhabitants. A much needed drink stop revived us and gave us the energy to get back to the casino for lunch. We were going there to meet George, a friend of my uncle Bruce since they were colleague in Japan. We met George from Macau last year when he came to London during the Olympics.

The casino was the Lisboa Grand. This is a huge ugly leaf shaped building that does not mix with its surroundings. For those unfamiliar with Macau and how it generates revenue, it is a gambling mecca for the Chinese. Think the Las Vegas of the east. This means there are many elaborate casinos with the accompanying restaurants and entertainments.

The restaurant at the Lisboa Grand has large automatic wooden doors that slide open as you approach like something from a Bond film. We can’t tell you much more about the place as they wouldn’t let me in because I was wearing shorts. Sightseeing scruffy isn’t appreciated everywhere it seems.

After a quick rethink, we headed for George’s second favourite restaurant. This was an all you can eat Italian in the Venetian hotel/casino. The Venetian was at the other end of Macau so George drove us over there pointing out a few more sights on the way. The food was excellent with salads, pizza and pasta. When we say all you can eat it wasn’t a buffet either, we are talking about a much classier establishment than a Pizza Hut and also a cut far above Pizza Express. It was waiter service from a menu, it was just all you can eat in the respect you could order as much and as often as you liked. A slightly strange system but it works well for them.

After lunch George has to return to his students so left us alone in the casino. It was great catching up with George again, this time seeing him on his home turf instead of having him come to ours. With today putting us over halfway through our trip it was good to talk to someone about home and family rather than always talking to strangers about our travels.

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Since we were in a casino we felt we should have a bit of a flutter. We exchanged our leftover Chinese currency (RMB) into Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) at the hotel and decided to risk that as it was only around £24 left. Not being experienced gamblers we went simple and classic and headed for the roulette wheel. We had no idea what we were doing really but managed to get some chips and place bets.

We soon found ourselves up $100. This sounds quite impressive until you realise it is HKD. So we were actually only up £8. We decided to go all or nothing with our winnings and came out with nothing. At this point we decided roulette wasn’t much fun so left even with the house. We like to think we came out on top as they supplied the free shuttle bus back to the ferry.

Another bumpy ferry ride and we were back in Hong Kong. We arrived back at 7pm and thought we would be able to make the nightly light show over the harbour. HK immigration tried to scupper this plan by delaying us for 45 minutes however we managed to get down to the harbour just in time for the show. Lasers over the harbour, a walk down Avenue of the stars followed by won-ton soup for dinner left us ready for bed. Hoping across borders for a day trip is tiring work.

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HK Trail Runners

Date: Thursday 24th October 2013

Since leaving London we have done at least one run in each of the cities that we have spent a night (although this isn’t reflected on our runs page which doesn’t seem to have been updated since Russia). In each place we have been on the look out for races or groups to run with. Hong  Kong is the first place we found a run that fit with our schedule. Through the site meetup.com we went for a run with the Hong Kong Trail Runners.

We joined the trail runners for their run: “Thursday Night Peak Run (Run UP to The Peak)”. Note that the UP is written in uppercase. There is a good reason for this as the peak is very high up.

We arrived much too early for the run. This gave us time to look around Hong Kong park which neighboured the start location. Even in the dark this park was very attractive. We couldn’t really appreciate the aviary but the tai chi garden and vantage point (tower with 105 steps) were well worth the evening visit.

Still 30 minutes early we went to the Hong Kong Sports Centre to wait. There were already a few runners present who we chatted to about our trip to Hong Kong and what kind of running they do. Soon a group of 13 runners had assembled and we were ready to head off. This is apparently a very small number for them made so by a 20/40km race taking place the following night.

Lead by Shane, an experienced trail runner we were off up the hill. We had been told that the first 2.5km were all up hill. There was then a 3km loop around the top that you could do as many times you wanted before the run down again. Despite the name of the group this wasn’t actually a trail run and the path was paved road or path the whole way.

The ascent was very tough. The first 500m or so were mainly on steep steps so we trotted up but didn’t really get into a run. A few short flat sections appeared between hills but it was pretty much up all the way. After about 10 minutes we regrouped. Apparently this was the bottom of the really tough bit. The path became so steep that the gentle run we had just about managed before was no longer possible. Everyone was reduced to a walk as we tried our best to stride up the hill and not roll back down it.

I was in sight of most of the group for the climb up. Although not the fastest runner, on this gradient the playing field was levelled if the ground wasn’t. With everyone walking I was able to keep close to the front. Vicki on the other hand struggled due to her shorter legs. (Vicki edit – Just to point out here that I wasn’t struggling, I was taking the time to admire the view and take in my surroundings rather than haring up the hill).  She was soon passed by the tail runner during a quick loo stop part way up was second to last in the group. I waited with the group leader for her at the tricky turn that is easy to miss and it turned out Vicki was actually now at the back. The lady with her had given up part way as the climb was too much for her and decided to head back down. A short run up a gentler slope and we made the top to re-join the rest of the group.

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Elevation…damn steep!

At this point there was more chat with the other runners and a group photo. The group was made up of mainly expats with Brits in the majority and a couple of Australians and Americans. Most of the group were amazed we had decided to tackle to run while supposedly on holiday.

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After the photo it was time to start the laps around the peak. We quickly lost the group, not through lack of pace (although I think we would have been pretty near the back) but by being distracted by the view. The peak has fabulous views of Hong Kong. You can see the harbour and the buildings of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island either side. At night, with the light show in progress this was quite a spectacle and well worth a few minutes of viewing.

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After our sightseeing we carried on around the lap but due to the time lost decided it was best just to do a single lap. Others had chosen to also do one lap so we had a quick chat with them at the end before going to see the view from the nearby viewing deck.

When we returned we were just in time to meet the people who had done 2 laps. As people had done different numbers of laps and were returning to different parts of the city the run down is not done all together. We headed down with a chap from Leeds who has been in Hong Kong for a year working for BT and an Australian who had only arrived a few weeks earlier for a job at Reuters. It was good chatting to them about life and running in Hong Kong as we descended the slopes and steps.

After a metro ride back to our hostel in Kowloon, our take away pizza and kebab went down very nicely while watching new episodes of the Big Bang Theory. Quite similar to what we do at home after a night at running club.

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Leaving China…more or less

Travel Dates: 22nd – 24th October 2013

Is going from China to Hong Kong leaving China? Hong Kong is a SAR of China (Special Administrative Region). This means that it looks after itself and is pretty much independent of China with its own laws and financial system. We don’t need a Chinese visa to go there but we did for the mainland. They operate a one country, two systems policy for Hong Kong. In short for our purposes, it felt like we were out of China, but technically we weren’t. If you ask a Hong Kong local though they will say we were most definitely out and distance themselves as much as possible from the mainland.

Before talking about Hong Kong too much though, we need to deal with leaving China. This was our first flight since leaving London and we were soon longing to be back on overnight trains direct from city to city.

Chengdu airport (where we flew from) is just outside the city and only has 2 terminals. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication with our taxi driver. When we held up one finger and said “one” he thought we meant two so took us to the wrong terminal. Perhaps this was because we both held up one finger and he did the maths? A half mile walk to the correct terminal and we found the correct check in desk. When we reached the front of a slow queue we found that we had selected the intern run desk. This explained the slow queue but didn’t explain why were left standing for several minutes as a shouted conversation between the interns and their supervisor took place. Getting a bit concerned that there was an issue with our tickets* we were eventually informed that our flight was going to be severely delayed. The shouting was apparently good though as they had moved us to an earlier flight with a different airline. In the end it turns out the taxi driver was right and we did want the other terminal. We slogged back the way we came and eventually managed to check in for our first flight of the trip without issue.

* There had already been one issue with our tickets where Rich booked a ticket for Victoria Gwilliam despite the fact we have been married for nearly two and a half years. Fortunately we noticed this before getting to the airport so managed to sort that out.

Our flight was to Shenzhen in China rather than Hong Kong as it was about half the price of going direct. Shenzhen is only a short hop across the border by bus to our intended destination. The bus ride sounded simple but was actually more complicated than you would think. Initially were were told to wait in a waiting area well inside the airport with no buses in sight. This seemed odd to us and was a little concern however we needn’t have worried as we were soon escorted over to the bus.

At the border, we were ejected from the bus with no signs or instructions on what to do next. The other people on the bus had shot off a we retrieved our luggage so we just followed the majority of the crowd into the closest building. We then had to leave China. Form filling and queuing required, although which forms and which queues could be clearer. Customs came next before crossing the border and entering Hong Kong. Further queues and form filling plus another set of customs and we were out to another bus station on the Hong Kong side. Altogether a bit of a faff and much guesswork on what to do involved, but the cost saving made it worthwhile. I always still get nervous going through customs even though I know I have nothing to hide, and the above process was a bit nerve wracking, especially when my border guard spent ages looking at my passport and visa. He even called over another guard…and then another. It turned out his scanner wasn’t working very well, but he didn’t bother to tell me that, he just let me stand there sweating!

The bus eventually dropped us right in the centre of Kowloon, down by the Harbour. This was our first taste of Hong Kong, and it was so bright with signs and adverts that it was like day light even though the sun had long since set.

We roughly knew where our hostel was but nothing could prepare us for actually trying to find it – tucked away in a dodgy tenement block. We must have been asked at least 20 times if we wanted a room, and one guy seemed quite put out when we said we had somewhere and went off on a little rant about how rude we were not coming to see his room, and just going to the one we had booked!

We booked to stay in this guest house on the internet before arriving in Hong Kong. We were meant to stay for 5 nights originally. We arranged to extend this 1 night earlier over e-mail. In the end we didn’t stay a single night in the hostel. Here is the story…(we are cheating here by inserting the review Rich added to TripAdvisor) 

First, let me give some detail about these cheaper hostels/guest houses. There are many of them in old tenement blocks. Merryland Guest House is in Mirador Mansions. Another infamous one is the neighbouring Chunking Mansions (Google the names to get an idea about what they are like for yourself). They are large blocks containing many apartments above shops on the lower floors. The ground floors are a maze of stalls with people everywhere through out the day and night. There are always people around doing business, some less legitimately than others. On your way in you will be offered rooms, watches, suits and anything else you can think of. Expect to be hassled. A lot. If you don’t like this, don’t book this hostel.

After you have made it past the crowds you have to find the correct lift (elevator). There are different ones for different floors and different section of the building so make sure you get the right one. The hostel name will be written on the wall beside the lift. This is the only place you will find the hostel name so you have to search hard for it. The queues for the lifts are generally long. The lifts are very slow and serve many floors. The longest we waited for a lift was just under 10 minutes however other lifts had much longer queues so it could be worse. You will need to cram into the lift with many other people and often food produce being delivered to kitchens above the lower restaurants.

Once on the right floor finding you hostel can be tricky. There will be signs from the lift but it is often a bit of a maze. We saw quite a few people wandering around lost looking for elusive hostels.

A note of fire safety. We try not to think about this too much though. The hostels are licensed which includes fire safety and ours has visible alarms and detectors which we hope work. The other hostels in the building may not be so safe though and you are at risk from them. Going down 15 floors in these buildings in a fire would not be quick as there are a lot of people in the building. Something to keep in mind if choosing to stay here.

The hostels themselves are flats converted to guest houses. The quality of rooms seems to differ greatly but they will all be small. Expect a bed and a few shelves with an attached wet room. The walls/floor/ceiling will most likely be tiled. Don’t expect a view but you may have a window. Most seem to have air conditioning too. The hostels we saw all had a young Indian chap who lived on site in a small storeroom (sleeping on the floor). This provides security and 24 hour assistance. We did pity their living arrangements though.

In terms of Merryland itself. We never really saw it. When we arrived we were put into the London guest house as apparently there was no room for us at Merryland even though we had booked. The London hostel was horrible. It was dirty, mouldy and nothing worked. The toilet continually ran until I manually turned off the water to it. The bathroom door handle wasn’t attached. We had to flip trip switches to get electricity to work. We didn’t dare use the shower as it looked like it would kill us. Fortunately we only stayed here one night (actually about 9 hours total, of which we would have been in the room for only 7 – that is 7 too long).

The next night Merryland still didn’t have space for us but we were moved to another guesthouse called the Shangrila. This was much better. Very clean, everything worked, everything new and well cared for. We stayed here instead of the Merryland for the remaining time.

Pros: Very cheap.

Cons: You get what you pay for. Sorry, in fact you may not get what you pay for as you could be moved anywhere in a number of different buildings.

Anyway, back to Hong Kong…

Day 1

Having survived our first night in our hostel-cum-death trap, and then moved to our new swanky (!) rooms we were ready to start the site-seeing. As we were staying over in Kowloon, we decided to check out the other main area in HK- the island itself. Knowing how much Rich likes boat trips, we took the 10 minute ferry ride across to the island rather than taking the Metro. The boats are old 1950s/1960s boats that chug away quite happily between the 2 ports every few minutes and are cheaper and much more fun than taking the metro.

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One of the things our guide book mentioned was outdoor escalators that go up through the streets. – I couldn’t believe that any city would have spent money on this, and so was intrigued to see them. I hadn’t appreciated how hilly HK was, but suddenly, standing at bottom of a street and looking up, I could entirely understand their reasoning. The area around Central is formed of layer upon layer of streets going back up the hillside, and the escalators take the pain out of getting to the top. They run down in the morning and then upwards the rest of the day, and it was a great way to see the city, just standing on an escalator!

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Having exhausted the escalator related entertainments, we then headed for another of HK’s modes of transport – the tram. These cute old fashioned double decker trams run along the base of the hill on HK island, and share the streets with a crazy mix of buses, cars and pedestrians – it is a miracle we didn’t see anyone get squashed. 

After a quick pit stop at the hotel we headed out for a quick run (quick as in short, not quick as in fast). Kowloon park was a couple of minutes from our hotel and was a great example of a Chinese park – lots going on in a very small space. We did about 5 laps of the park to make up 5km, but did manage to walk round an aviary, see a sculpture garden, run around a rose maze, check out th local outdoor pool and complete laps of a fitness trail that was basically a hill with some gym equipment on it. All of the parks we have seen have been open till at least 10pm, and we have yet to come across an empty one – maybe the UK can learn something from this?

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We had then intended to go the harbour light show, but unfortunately, had read the signs on a building incorrectly. When we had seen signs for “light show 9pm” on a building next to the harbour we had assumed that it was referring to the light show we wanted. In turns out that 9pm is just the time of that building’s light show, rather than the harbour show, which is actually at 8pm. Never mind.

We rounded the day off with some drinks back in the Central area with Sam, one of Rich’s old colleagues from Morgan Stanley, who now lives in HK. We had been in the bar about 10 minutes when we heard a yelp and a crunch as something threw itself through the door and onto the floor next to us. It was certainly quite an entrance, but luckily the only thing damaged was Sam’s pride.

Day 2

After a bit of late night the previous night, we opted for a gentle start to the day and headed off in search of some markets. which have been one of my favourite things about China. HK promised something we hadn’t seen so far – a bird market. Which is actually just what it says it is – a place for HK-ers to go and buy songbirds. There were hundreds of little (and not so little) birds at the market, complete with fancy cages (think big old fashioned domed one) with little porcelain bowls for their food. There were also plenty of (live) grass hopper sellers, as apparently the done thing is to feed the birds the grasshoppers with chopsticks through the bars of the cages. Sounds a bit of a faff to me!

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We then headed through the flower market (where we bought a bloom to liven up our room) to the Goldfish market, which again, is fairly self explanatory. It is basically a street of aquarium shops, where you can pick and mix fish to buy. They even have some hanging up in plastic bags ready to go, although being in a plastic bag in the HK heat cannot be a pleasant experience for the fish. As well as fish we did see  a couple of very contented cats – all the dead fish must go somewhere I guess!

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Rich had his heart set on Dim Sum for lunch, and more by luck than judgement we came across a Dim Sum restaurant that had been listed as one of top places to eat in the world by Time magazine – we don’t think they had faked the reviews, as it was very tasty, although the service was a little hit and miss and we eventually gave up waiting for our Pineapple buns.

As it was another warm afternoon, and we had a big run planned in the evening, we headed back to Kowloon park for a dip in their pool. For about £1.50 each we spent a very relaxed afternoon lounging about in their open air pools and reading our books.

Feeling relaxed, we headed back to the hostel to get ready for our evening adventure – running up The Peak.

Out from behind Chinese (fire)wall

We are back online! It really wasn’t just facebook that got cut out in China. The subversive ramblings of Vicki and I were also seen as too politically risky for the people of China so they censored us. Fear not now we are in Hong Kong we are free to publicly express ourselves again and will be publishing all the missed posts in the coming days.

To start with we have published a post on Beijing. We will endeavour to update a new post each day we are here in Hong Kong. This relies of us finishing writing  them though and then sorting relevant photos. This is no small task as we now have quite a backlog. It seems that the lack of published posts made us a bit slack on preparing new posts.

While we are hear, how about a quick update on things:

  • We saw panda!. They were very cute and well worth visiting.
  • We used a non-ground method of transport and flew from Chengdu to Hong Kong. What cheats we are!
  • Hong Kong is hot. No more are we being chilled by icy winds and wearing jumpers, It is shorts and t-shirts from here on in (not that I ever stopped wearing shorts).

Look out for more exciting posts in the next few days.

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