Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hong Kong

May 17-20, 2012

The flight here (Vancouver to Hong Kong direct, 13 hours) was surprisingly enjoyable. We left at 1:30PM after a lovely Champagne breakfast with Nancy and her boyfriend Tim then took off to the airport and flew with Air Canada. In flight entertainment is great these days and I found myself caught up in the "Children" film category which had many old disney films I had not seen in years.
By the time we got to Hong Kong I was feeling pretty knackered though. Thankfully we had excellent directions to our accommodation. 
I have come across source for very cheap accommodation. Its called AirBnB. I HIGHLY recommend it. Google it and check it out for prices WAY cheaper than hotels and even cheaper than the hostels I have looked at. 
Our host Joe met us once we got off the bus and showed us to our room - a private apartment on the 28th floor of a high-rise building. I think we paid like $17 per night or something ridiculous cheap. (Serioulsy, check out AirBnB for accommodation next time you travel - so good). Joe has lived in Hong Kong his entire life and offered to spend the following day with us. 
That night before going to bed we decided to seek a meal. We walked around the local neighbourhood which is in the outskirts of the main centre of Hong Kong which resulted in no english what so ever. It was dark, crowded, the air was hot and humid and foreign smells lingered in the air. All the glowing signs in Chinese characters. Carcasses of cooked birds hung in the windows, soup stalls with pictures of snakes, tiny restaurants with people on outdoor stools eating things I didn't recognize. At this time we had made a incorrect guess at the value of a Hong Kong dollar and everything appeared to be ridiculously expensive with bowls of soup costing over $50cnd apparently. Confused, jet lagged, hungry and now irritated we getting a bit frustrated. We attempted to purchase 2 pears from a fruit stall and the lady insisted we pay her $32 which was definitely not happening. We found a grocery store and bought some eggs, smoked salmon, yogurt, bananas, milk and bread which came to about $150HK. Shaking our heads and wiping our brow we retreated to the comfort of our tiny apartment (which was about 30 degrees) on the 28th floor, ate a banana and crashed. 
The next morning I woke at 5:30 am to an empty apartment.  I pulled open the curtains to find the famous skyline of Hong Kong a grey silhouette in the light of dawn, a cloud of heat hugging the land. The sun had not yet risen and a mountains rose up from the sea. Absolutely one of the most incredible city views I have ever seen. I got out my yoga mat going through the sun salutations as the sun rose from behind the mountain bathing its light upon me which was almost too much to bare as the air was hot enough already. Julian came into the apartment then after having had his sunrise walk around the neighbourhood. 
We called Joe around 830am who came out to meet us to take us into the city. We got onto the public transport which took us into the city. 
He walked us through the streets and to an area with many market stalls selling fresh fruit and veggies. He introduced us to the foreign produce, purchasing and tasting many different things, telling us what they are and how to eat them. He then took us into a covered market space housing a plethora of live and dead seafood. From gutted fish on ice to live fish in buckets which stall keepers were butchering on site when ordered. A net of live frogs. A bucket of eels. I did not see one western person the entire time we were in this area. Down an alley with the smell of freshly baked sweet things. We ate a white pastry with flavours of white pepper, water chestnut, leeks and pork. He introduced us to fabulous cold beverages. Chilled coconut and pear tea. Chilled sweet plum tea. Delicious. And so Cheap!!! I didn't see a can of coke or potato chips once around there parts. 
A Taoist temple with a red roof. Incense. Everywhere. Hundreds of spirals of it hung from the ceiling, burning. 4 different altars dedicated to different gods. Lots of gold and red. 
Botanical Gardens - exotic plants and birds. History of Hong Kong museum. 
A walk down Temple Street - the busiest street in Hong Kong with the largest flee market in the Territory. Very cheap merchandise and food; absolutely crowded with people. 
A walk around Time Square with the largest shops of brand names I have ever seen (far larger than London). Chanel, Armani, Louis Vutton etc etc etc. 
Took the Ferry over to Hong Kong Island with gorgeous views of the Harbour. Such a beautiful city to look at. Hong Kong Island is much more modern than much of the mainland. More brand name shops and massive shopping malls. Joe took us down some back alley ways to a tiny restaurant where we had Beef Noodle soup for dinner which cost about $3.50cnd each. So good! 
We took the ferry back over around dusk just as the night was coming alive - the harbour lit beautifully. 

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