Doing my tourist duty
Sydney airport still looks the same after exactly a month and a day. It's the crack of dawn, the sun's rising. Another early morning, another early flight. Instead of a three hour flight to Christchurch, New Zealand, this time we're heading to Hong Kong, gateway to China and Asia. As I'm boarding my plane, I'm being taught Chinese by a Shenzen businessman in the seat next to me. Nihao, Zaijang! Way to start my Asia experience. After a lovely and uneventful flight, we're here. April 4th, friday afternoon: touchdown in Hong Kong. After five months on the road, it's time for a new continent, time to meet new people, time to experience new cultures. Welcome to Asia Nicky.
I couldn't wait to get to Asia and I'd been getting pumped up for weeks. I love(d) Australia and New Zealand and I had a great time, but I was (am) longing to experience new cultures.
at Causeway Bay
I was getting tired of the western McDonalds culture, the same that I have back home. Nothing wrong with Maccie D, but you feel me, right? Hong Kong would take me by my hand and show me those different cultures step by step, in preparation for real Asia.
The moment I arrive in Hong Kong I'm completely blown away by the sheer massiveness (is that a word?) of everything. As you board the airport express train to Hong Kong Island you shoot past forty story apartment blocks, skyscrapers and officetowers. Nothing is small here. Hong Kong gives a whole new meaning to the term high rise. As space is very limited, they simply put another layer on everything. Buildings, towers, trams, buses, ferries, everything here has several layers.
At Victoria Harbour for A Symphony of Lights
I arrive at Central
station, realize I have no idea on where to go (I'm a lazy slacker, I know) but I manage to find a bookshop to check some Lonely Planets. I dot down some adresses, get my Octopus card (which gives you acces to all public transport, too easy) and head to Causeway Bay. After some searching I find the Hong Kong Hostel (former Wang Fat hostel) and with it my new home. Well, for the coming week.
Apparently I share my apartment with a Chinese family, but I never see them. I also have an English roommate, and after meeting we team up to do some exploring around our hostel. Alex is 18, which surprises me. Almost every single traveller I meet is older than me, usually around 24/25 years old. I only met a handful people younger than me.
Ape and Buddha
The rest of the world apparently decides to finish a study first, and travel afterwards. It's funny how we team up, as we're very different. We like different music, films etc. I do rate his intelligence quite high, so there you go, great minds always find each other ;) The next day it's time to conquer Hong Kong. I set out for some breakfast, take the MTR to Admiralty and head to the Peak tram. I'm not the only one though; the queue goes on forever 'round the block and it takes me an hour to get to the tramstation. However touristy, the views are worth it. I was there on a clear day, but unfortunately the smog is ever present, although not as bad in any way I'd imagined beforehand.
After hanging around for a couple of hours it's time to leave again. The queue for the way down was possible even longer than the one up, so I decide to walk back.
A Symphony of Light
From the chattering tourists, screaming children and busy vendors I suddenly find myself in an oasis of peace. Clattering water from a stream, the chittering of invisible birds, the wind carresing the leaves on the trees. Breath in, breath out. Oh nature. Back down I make my way to 'the longest escalator in the world' but I can't seem to find it. There are just these seperate escalators, all going up. Turns out the longest escalator of the world consists of a dozen ones. I'd been impressed every second I'd been in Hong Kong, but now I feel a bit cheated. Longest in the world. Pff..
Finding Alex back in our apartment, I invited him to see a movie in the cinema on the corner. We went to see Three Kingdoms, which is a new Chinese release. Yes, with english subtitles! The movie was enjoyable, not the best warrior movie you'll ever see, but if you come across it, it won't disappoint you.
The next day I planned to go the Lantau
Island, an hour away with the ferry. I heared from Carmen she would be there as well, but we don't see each other. We agree to meet up sometime the coming week. Alex joins me to Lantau and we take the bus to the Po Lin monastery to see the giant Buddha, the biggest of it's kind in the world. Where the monastery isn't really all that, the Buddha is impressive. I take a heap of photo's and enjoy the view together with Ape.
Back in Kowloon, we're rushing to make it to Tsim Sha Tsui to see the Symphony of Light show on the Hong Kong Island side of the harbour.
One of my favourite harbour shots
If you're in Hong Kong, make sure you go and see it. It's really enjoyable, with the music, snap happy Japanese and easy to please tourists in general. It's so easy to mount lights and lasers on a street of buildings and sync those with some fancy tunes. Why doesn't Amsterdam do that? Why isn't Amsterdam cool like that? As Alex put it, you kinda feel cheated by your hometown for not coming up with such a brilliant idea. The tourists love it, it's free entertainment, low cost and with just a fifteen minute show every night, it's not harming anybody. Too easy. We eat a wicked burger at the Hard Rock Hong Kong, walk down the rather disappointing Temple Street night market and call it a day. So much new impressions and experiences. I have a tough time sorting it all out, as I'm falling from amazement into utter amazement and back again.
Hardly any room in my head left for another new experience tomorrow: Macau, Las Vegas of the East!