Day 43 - Shopping and the Symphony of Lights

Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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Flag of Hong Kong  , New Territories,
Monday, November 12, 2012

For our second day in Hong Kong we decided to catch the ferry across to Kowloon. Kowloon is on main land China but forms part of Hong Kong. So we left our hotel, which is on Hong Kong Island, and made our way to the pier. It was an exciting walk as we used the escalator pedestrian walkway. It is a walkway that has been designed basically a floor above the road level. For part of it you walk on a path and other parts you walk on an escalator. Excellent and so efficient. We arrived at the pier, caught the ferry for only HK$ 2.50 one way and arrived in Kowloon. It has a far more frenetic feel about it and a lot more Chinese than the area we were staying in on Hong Kong island. In every direction there a malls and road side shops sporting top brands and neon flashing signs selling everything from Chinese medicine to cameras and food.
Anton had decided to get a new camera for work and diving so we headed to an area that he had researched. There were several camera shops in a strip and we went into a few. Anton found the camera he had been looking for but the sales guy convinced him to take a different one based on the fact that it was better for diving. After quite some time to make the purchase and get al the bits we left the store and started walking along the road. We stumbled across the Kowloon Park and went in. Our first spot was the walkway of comic artists. Various artists have designed and created comic characters that now line the walkway. They are really fun and people enjoy posing with the characters. Anton thought he should too. Very funny.
Then we headed up a ramp and found a beautiful Chinese garden complete with a water fountain and lazy terrapins. So lovely. Next we continued on and found an aviary with parrots, hornbills and other exotic birds and a water birds park. We were fascinated to see a black necked swan. We didn't know they existed. The park also had a circular rose garden. It was super to escape the crazy shopping streets into a green haven and was great to see that the city really places importance on having green zones for relaxation.
After our stroll we headed into a Japanese restaurant across the road. It was a very interesting experience as we had no idea how it all worked. We were seated on stools at the sushi belt, very compact, and in front of us were mugs and plates. We worked out that you take a scoop of green tea powder from one of the pots on the table and then fill the mug with hot water from a little spout on the table counter. Really cool. We then tried a few pieces of sushi. Weird and not great options on the belt, but fun. Tess' highlight was a tempura prawn roll. Ant ordered a bowl of meso soup and some sashimi which was delish. All in all great fun.
We then headed back to the hotel via the ferry for some chill time.
Our chill time was cut a little short when, after some research, Anton discovered that the amazing camera deal he had been offered was not in fact as amazing as it had been made out to be. We felt it was only right to take it up with the shop so made our way back to the ferry and back to Kowloon. We arrived and Anton explained very politely that he wasn't happy. After not much of an argument, they agreed to reimburse us some of the money. So although it wasn't exactly the best deal ever we felt better about the purchase.
We had booked an evening harbour tour so had an hour to kill in Kowloon. We started strolling down the street next to the pier and found the most beautiful spot, Heritage 1881. Basically it used to be the old police headquarters and the spot where the harbour police were stationed to communicate with the incoming and outgoing vessels. A time ball was built here that was set to the exact time based on GMT. At exactly 13:00 every day, a siren sounded and the ball was dropped. Captains on vessels coming into the harbour could reset their chronometers which had probably gone out of synch due to the crossing of date lines etc. The time ball tower is still in place and the circular courtyard surrounding it has been dedicated to this historic purpose although today the building houses a fancy restaurant and a couple of expensive brand shops like Tiffany's. It really was a magical find and we thoroughly enjoyed reading up about the history.
We then caught our ferry back to the Central Pier and then hopped on our harbour cruise boat. It was an hour cruise that included the Symphony of Lights show. Around 10 buildings along the waters edge participate in the show and have lights rigged up along their facades as well as lasers from their rooftops. The symphony music starts on the harbour tour ferry boat and the lights on the buildings are synchronized with the music. Fantastic! The show lasts about 20 minutes and we loved every minute. It was the perfect way to finish an eventful day. We then headed back to our hotel area and hoped to find a dumpling restaurant. We eventually settled for a Chinese restaurant which was interesting. We had some shrimp and spinach dumplings in fish soup with noodles and a go at the Malaysian speciality, Nasi goring. We have found the Chinese food to be alright but not very exciting. We still think that Thai food is tops in terms of variety of taste. Anyway we are heading to Beijing tomorrow so we will be trying out more Chinese food in the days to come. Hong Kong has been great and we both agree that we'd like to visit again as there are probably more gems worth exploring.
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