Hong Kong Travel Blog› entry 97 of 117 › view all entries
After the zombie-like state that the festivities in Bangkok and a couple of hours sleep had given me, I was well pleased to negotiate a taxi, plane, train and bus journey followed by a half-hour walk to find accommodation and make it to Hong Kong in one piece.
Soaring realty prices and a lack of floor space means that everything in Hong Kong pretty much gets built upwards before it gets built outwards. Quite peculiarly, most hostels are contained within a floor in one of the massive decaying high-rise buildings in the Kowloon peninsula. I would pretty much have settled for a bed on the floor, though, by the time I got there, and what I got wasn't much more. I could touch three walls at once and my bed looked like a plank with a cover. I woke up on my second and final night feeling rather itchy, and after a twirl in front of the bathroom mirror, I found bites running all the way from the backs of my leg, across my back and down both arms.
I started off just getting my bearings around Kowloon. Nathan Road, the main road in the peninsula, is known as the Golden Mile - because of the coloured lights, massive realty prices and ability to make money from tourism. Before the sun went down I took a walk down at the harbour front on the Avenue Of Stars, a celebration of famous Chinese movie stars and film makers. Needless to say, the only one I recognised was Bruce Lee. The view across the harbour is, of course, stunning. Even more so once the smog is replaced with the black of night and each of the sky scrapers tries to outdo the others with coloured, and sometimes flashing, lights.
My first full day in Hong Kong I ended up with blisters from the amount of walking I did. I took the famous Star Ferry across the channel to Hong Kong Island. I spent most of my time with my neck bent back to view the massive buildings properly. As a massive trade centre and a former British colony, it unsurprisingly reminds me of Singapore. It has the same feeling that everything has been sacrificed to chase the dollar: "No time for recreation or sport, there's cash to be had." That said, it really is postcard-perfect, visually.
After stepping in dog poo, I started my walking tour at the Man Mo temple, where people were lighting cone-shaped incense sticks that hung from the ceiling.
As the sun went down I headed to the HK Convention And Exhibition Centre, where I hope to get a nice view of the harbour at sunset. What I found, though, was a book fair. My worst nightmare. I didn't want to be in a book fair, but I made a mockery of the security in the building by managing to evade the entrance fee and make it up past three floors of ushers to a lookout over the harbour.
I left just in time to catch the Sound And Light Display, with added fireworks for good measure.
I had decided that China's mainland would be tricky on my lonesome, what with the language difficulties and vast mass of land to cover, so had booked up on a group tour in advance. My third evening in HK was to be the evening that I would start my Gecko's China Odyssey tour and meet my fellow travellers for the next 26 days.
With my last action of independence, I headed out to Lantau, home to the world's largest outdoor seated Buddha (I'm sure I've seen just about every different variable on the 'biggest' Buddha theme by now).
I was a bit presumptious in that I thought the ferry ride out there would take minutes, not hours, and thus, after the best part of three hours taken to get there, I suddenly realised that to make the meeting with my group, I would have only minutes, not hours, seeing the blasted thing. I ran up the steps like Rocky, took some snaps, got an ice cream, then rushed round the monastery with only minutes to spare before I had to catch the ferry back.
I successfully met up with my group that night.