Poorism in Hong Kong

Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
Trip End Jul 30, 2012

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Where I stayed
Golden Crap Palace

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

As I did mention previously, our plan to get straight to Hong Kong from Yangshuo wasn't entirely successful, but once more our seemingly bad luck saved our bacon in some way or another. I'll admit to dropping the ball on this one; you see, I put my trust in a website that stated that Guangzhou was where we would have to change trains to get to HK. Turns out that's not true at all, and we had got off just a few stops before Shenzhen, which is indeed the place we were after.
And so we were stuck in Guangzhou for the night. Not so bad mind, we had a fun night. Starting off bartering with the riverside hotels, before settling on a fair price for a room with disco lights, bonus!
We then found out that quite literally ALL the accomodation had been booked solid in HK due to the rugby 7's being in town, so it was quite lucky we didn't show up in the first place! All the couch surfers we contacted were also busy so it really was yet another strange bit of luck that had came our way. Maybe due to the various good luck charms we had acquired along the way from kind strangers and new found friends, maybe we're just jammy bastards!
On one of our little city wanders we came across a corner shop selling many different bottles of "baijou" (the national drink in China, 56%'s worth of liver wrenching disgustingness!) one of which was in a plastic sports bottle! We saw this as far too funny to pass up on and purchased it for the kind price of 70 pennies, along with a bottle of orange juice to wash it down! We toddled back to our disco room to have a couple of tipples whilst finding the best way to dry our wet clothes (see pictures if you want to admire my ingenuity!). Baijou really does rank high on most vomit inducing spirits we have tried, and no amount of orange juice was going to change that!
Our bellies felt a rumble and we plodded on out in search of some munch. We were pleasantly surprised to find that a number of bbq stalls had sprung up along our street. We grabbed a couple of tasty snacks to be going on with until we came across an even more bountiful stall with about 40 baskets of a vast variety of skewered items. Seeing that we were confused as what to do, the vendor fetched his 10 year old english speaking daughter to help. She explained that were to choose 20 skewers (10p each) take a seat at the miniature tables, complete with it's very own pot of soup cooking over a small fire and cook the items to our liking. Sound as a pound! Amongst the items we chose were jellyfish, quails eggs and, of course, the ever present mystery meats. Bursting at the seems we waddled home to bed for an early one ready for the journey to Shenzhen in the morning, once again, not HK as everything was still fully booked!

Shenzhen is a wealthy city that is separated from Hong Kong by an official border. I'm still confused as to who HK belongs to; was british but we handed it back to China, but somehow it's almost independent, but not? I don't know, but you have to cross a border! Anyway... We had booked a hotel (Shenzhen is too wealthy for hostels) in the downtown area, which required the standard confusing mixture being shuffled out of tubes and onto buses etc, but nothing we couldn't handle! The hotel itself however was a hassle to find, everything's a hassle when hauling your backpacks around huge crowds of chinese! No one seemed to have heard of the place and it wasn't until I walked shin first into a small metal post that we decided to put the bags down and ask a nearby hotel if they had heard of where we were hoping to rest that night. They again seemed to know nothing of the place and so we turned away slightly disheartened. It was then that I noticed their business card on the desk, and more importantly, the address on it. It was the address of our hotel! We were standing there, in the lobby, and still the staff didn't know the name of the place they were working in! The hotels name was Garden Island hotel, but they only used the acronym GIH on every sign and advertisement in the building, crazy! 
Confusion resolved, we settled in and decided treat ourselves to a cheap bottle of wine and some (not so cheap) cheese and bread, but not before sampling the local street food: a delicious sort of savoury pancake wrapped around vegetables, meat, chili and some sort of crispy batter.
And so the next day it was finally time to enter the "special administrative region" (just found out that's what HK is classed as) stopping off for a cheeky Mcdonalds along the way! In a way we felt sad as crossing the border seemed like farewell to China, and it was for the most part, HK is worlds apart from the rest of China. People still look the same, although alot more foreign residents. In fact it was worlds apart from anywhere we had ever been; imagine London times 10 with all the lights in Vegas, a ton more money, a fair bit more natural beauty here and there and a few cantonese thrown into the mix, and your about there. The streets were thriving with busy people of all ethnicities going about their business and the lights and towering skyscrapers were somewhat overwhelming at first, but there was definitely an element of "coolness" amidst all the crazyness. Our chosen place of rest didn't quite have the same "coolness" mind, we were presented with an apartment come guesthouse on the interior of the 7th floor of a god knows how many story monster of a building, in which our room was cramped and with no windows, for over triple the price of even our most expensive accomodation in China, and it was the cheapest place available! But hey, we weren't going to be spending much time inside anyway, there's so much to stare at outside!
We started our habitual city connoisseuring by slowly getting lost down the bright, flashing and disortainting streets, gawping at the sheer wealth of folk bustling by with their personal shoppers carrying them round Tiffany's and alike. We dubbed this activity of shaking our heads at people with more money than sense as "poorism", hence the title. Money's a funny thing, people think it makes you happy, but trust me, there are far more smiling faces to be seen in the impoverished villages of Cambodia or Laos than in any wealthy city. Still looking at the whole super developed and super modern buildings in the downtown was a pretty cool thing to behold, especially from atop the peak, where we ascended to one night via the old british built tramway, to witness the city lights from an almost birds eye view.
We spent our first night of poorism heading down to the Avenue of stars, a hollywood style river side promenade with stars dedicated to the best of the best of cantonese cinema (Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee being the only ones known to us), whilst waiting for the nightly "Light show". Basically, you stand on one side of the river looking at the vertigo inducing tower like buildings in the business quarter over the water that, to music so cheesy you could almost smell it, synchronise a series of lasers and huge spotlights into the night sky. Impressive yes, and quite entertaining, but never again will I let someone tell me that leaving the standby light on the TV turned on is a serious waste of energy, a nightly light show like that, now that's wasting energy!

Present day update: Currently sipping the local "Lao-Lao" (rice whisky), lamenting the fact that after getting up at 5 this morning and tuk-tucking to the bus station with bulging bags destined for Vietnam, we were turned away indefinitly as the roads have fallen apart! So we are stranded here in Phonsavan, possibly until Sunday! Ah well, it could be worse, you could be a buffalo in the back of a truck, waiting to get past a landslide.

So where was I, ah yes dizzying about the dazzling Kowloon district. Whilst on one of many tube rides from one island to another we noticed that there was in fact a Disneyland HK. Now, needless to say this set Alice off like a fat boy winning his favorite cake! She was buzzing and quickly had us both persuaded that this was going to be her early birthday treat. However, later that night we remembered the existence of the famous Ocean Park also in HK. It was a cheaper option, with more things to do and with better reviews, but it just wasn't disney we kept saying... But after seeing sense, we chose the local legend rather than the international giant and headed off to Ocean Park! And after Alice got over a slight spell of sickness due to anti-malarials, we couldn't have been happier with our choice! The whole place was packed with the most impressive aquariums we'd ever seen, absolutely huuuuooooge! Sharks, manta rays, 3 metre long sturgeons and a whole building devoted to jellyfish! We ran around like a couple of excitable ten year olds, jumping on every ride we could catch. Aswell as all the rides and aquariums there was a whole load of asian animals dotted about including overgrown otters, a whole load of different goldfish (alot more interesting than it sounds!) pandas and japanese salamanders! It was set over two islands on the coast, connected by cablecars, constantly watched over by a team of pretty large birds of prey, which made the scenery all the more interesting, especially for budding twitchers like Alice! Not... We even managed to catch the dolphin show, which was so so so much better than the one we had previously seen in Beijing.
And so, after having far too much fun and almost puking due to it, we made our way to the exit, but not before catching the nightly super duper show of SYMBIO! It's hard to describe exactly what it was, you'll have to refer to photos to fully understand, it was a combination of lights projected on to water, fire being shot out here there and everywhere, and a few extra dollops of epicness thrown in here and there for good measure! Topped off a great day!
On one of our remaining days in the city we decided to go take a look at what the lonely planet had listed as: number 46 of top things to do in ASIA, the worlds biggest escalator. Now, the Lonely planet can be useful in some cases, but usually it seems like it's geared towards goofy gap year golly-goshers off on their jollies or, in this case, people that just really like escalators. I don't really know why we even went, i suppose we envisioned a huge mechanical stairway to heaven. But no, not even close, it was actually the biggest escalator SYSTEM in the world, which meant it was merely a case of hopping on and off several average sized grubby looking stairways scaling a fairly large hill. There was far too much walking involved for my liking, and not only that, once you get to the top, there's nothing there! And no escalator going down! Only one word for that little outing: DISAPOUTRAGED!
And so the time had come for us to officially leave the land of China. It had been an adventure never to be forgotten and maybe one day to be revisited, but nonetheless we were bursting with excitement about entering the tropical climate of the Kingdom of Cambodia, somewhere that has secured a firm place in our hearts forever!

Lao-Lao is good.

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mamaspain on

Goofy Gap year Golly Goshers??? A little strong dont you think??? Thank goodness we modified your overbite otherwise people may have confused you as such! And did I never teach you the art of running down escalators??
Ps. Its raining cats and dogs here....I'm standing outside with a plate and a bottle of tomato sauce! xxxxx Bye bye China xx

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