Hong Kong - or at least Kowloon - impressed me in all
the wrong ways. Every few yards I was offered fake watches
or tailored clothing or implored to enter yet another
store. I was, genuinely, looking for a replacement camera
but wanted to talk to someone who knows abour cameras,
not a dubious salesman whose only interest was making
a sale. Eventually I found a store where the staff offered
intelligent advice rather than unbelievable discounts
and flexed my credit card - and bought exactly the same
camera again, even though it is an older model.
When I got back to our room and started to collect
batteries and chargers to use with the new camera -
the broken camera started working again!! So now we
I went to the station, while Fi took the boys to the
science museum, to book our train to Xi'an. I had to
do this through an agent but it was fairly painless
- apart from the multiple visits to the ATM for cash
- and our first hurdle in China was crossed.
We caught the local bus service to Kowloon which was
crowded, with frequent stops, but cheap and easy to
use. The minute we alighted at our stop, a swarm of
opportunists descended. They wanted to carry our bags,
get us a taxi, show us to a good hotel, sell us all
fake Rolex watches and measure us up for a complete
new wardrobe. I found myself almost batting them away
like mosquitoes as I hefted my rucksack onto my back
and head-down charged after Ian and the boys. We are,
once again, in a high rise hostel, like the one in Taipei,
this time two very clean and comfortable, air-conditioned
rooms on the 15th floor.
Hong Kong, ringed by its horizon of mountains, is a
dramatic and beautiful city in some ways but there is
not much, on a human scale, to get fond of. Looking
across Victoria Harbour from Kowloon is a skyline reminiscent
of New York, the skyscrapers of Central Hong Kong proudly
declaring the multinational businesses they house, in
After dark, when all the many coloured lights are
operating, it is rather magical. We watched the 8.00pm
nightly Symphony of Lights, in which they
synchronise the rhythms of all these buildings' individual
lighting patterns with a popular classical music medley
over loud speakers. I didn't really feel this added
anything much to the unsynchronised, unaccompanied version.
On the Wednesday we went to the Science Museum and
found that Wednesdays are free entry days,
which was good and bad. The queue was very long but
well managed so the museum was not overcrowded and it
was well worth the long wait. There was much to admire
and wonder at and their Hall of Mirrors was by far the
best of the many I have visited. Ian went to the station
and got our train tickets from HK to Xi'an while we
were queuing and caught up with us later.
The next day we headed for the Museum of Art (Ian's
and my choice) but arrived to find they are open every
day except Thursdays. The boys were less than desolate
about this and dragged us of to a shopping centre, where
we bought a camera. This was less whimsical than it
sounds because our faithful Pentax Optio had died suddenly
a week ago, of no known cause. A recharged battery and
a new memory card had failed to revive it. We ended
up buying exactly the same model again (for half what
we had paid the first time), because it has been so
In the afternoon we took a Harbour Tour on the Star
Ferry which was a pleasant and leisurely way of getting
another view of the city. Ian was particularly impressed
by the bamboo scaffolding being used on all the building
When we returned to the hostel later in the day Ian
grabbed the old camera to remove its battery and memory
card and it came back to life! So now we have two!!
We ate well in Hong Kong, particularly at a small,
cafe in the back streets behind our hostel, where we
were the only non-Chinese customers on both occasions.
We also went to a rather upmarket Italian Restaurant
on our last night and I had the first glass of wine
I have drunk for over a month.
We continued to fend off hustlers every time we emerged
onto the streets, but many of the regulars got to recognise
us and stopped bothering us much. We largely gave up
on the lifts, which were always jam-packed and took
ages to arrive. There were only two lifts to service
14 floors, each floor accommodating several hostels
and heaven knows how many residents.
We took to the stairs which were slightly bizarre.
At floor three you had to exit the stairwell, through
a door, out onto the tiled floor of a corridor whose
other wall (and the rest of the building) had not yet
been built! At the far end of this tiled floor you went
back into the completed part of the building, into another
stairwell, and continued all the way up to floor 15.
In summary, we had some fun in Hong Kong but I feel
no desire to come back here. Unlike Japan, Taiwan and
Thailand that box is firmly ticked. I am most grateful,
however, for the 4 day respite from mosquito bites that
the city has given me!
We were off the train from Chiang Mai by 7 and
in Bangkok air port by 9 with near 5 hours to spare.
We found a coffee shop showing Mr Bean and drank lots
of coffee very slowly to pass the time.
The flight was boring like all flights are except they
had cameras built into the nose and hull of the plane
which was amusing for take off and landing.
Arrived on the airport island on the outskirts of Hong
Kong and bussed into the center. We are staying at Chung
King mansions which is a tower block in Kowloon. We
got off the bus and in the very short walk to our hostel
we were bugged by every sort of street salesman you
could think of. The main ones were fake watches (like
phoney Rolexes and so on) and taylors of all things,
but like always you blank them and they give up farly
The next day we had no clue were we wanted to go so
we spent the first half of the day just wandering around.
It is the most multi cultural place I have ever been.
People from every country you can think of and the same
with all the places to eat Thai, Italian, American,
English and loads and load whih Ii had no clue about.
I suppose its because this has been a main traiding
post for hundreds of years.
Me and dad have got good at beating off the street
sales men. Dad generally starts talking to them too
fast for their english to follow on and I make them
think I'm interested then, when they go into their bag
to show me some examples, I disapear.
At 8 o'clock they have the worlds biggest daily light
show on the water front on both sides of Victoria Harbour.
A total of over 80 buildings are used.I enjoyed it but
were using the crapiest gameshow style music you have
We bought another of the same camera (i forgot to mention
our optio broke in Thailand). We took a boat trip around
victoria harbor and that was allright Me harry and george
went to the internet cafe and most of the rest of the
day disapeared - apart from going to a italian retarant
at georges request.