Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
124Trip End Ongoing
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-- Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
When Vinny and myself were in China last year (Jesus... has it been so long?) we never bothered with Hong Kong.
We had been told that it was a pretty non descript place that had nothing to see and was very expensive.
As it turned out, Hong Kong IS very expensive, at least by Asian standards, but it was more than worth the visit. It did, in only three days, leap up into my top five 'Cities I want to return to' rankings.
A lot of that was, of course, down to the extremely generous hospitality laid out by my brother Dave and his new and beautiful wife Alex, but still... It's great being in any city where the hard work has been done for you - you have somewhere to stay, you already know which places are great and which you don't need to know about.
It's a great place, with a really good feel to it. Like Bangkok, it has the amazing duality of humble homes and towering skyscrapers, chicken and rice and Big Macs with Cheese. The ex-pat community is, of course, a big part of the culture (despite only comprising something like 5% of the population).
It is a successful blend, or rather as successful as such a blend ever is. The Ex-Pat's can spend their entire life without uttering a word or Cantonese, meanwhile the Chinese have a better standard of living than any others I've encountered, including in Beijing.
Despite us handing HK back to China Christmas 1997, they have been able to maintain an 'Independent Government Region', which obviously is the way forward as the International Financial Institutions would possibly take issue with suddenly belonging to a Communist State... But enough of that.
I had a fantastic long weekend, eating well and drinking better. We were able to watch the Rugby World Cup Semi-Final on the Saturday night (a lot more enjoyable than the final was, I can tell you) where we beat France, thus beating New Zealand by proxy, and having already beaten Australia I knew I was returning to the Southern Hemisphere sufficiently armed with things to say when the cricket season started up again.
We played poker, strolled through the city, I went to visit my brother's office - One great thing about Hong Kong is that you can get from A to B without having to ever go down to street level.
We were sat in this rooftop bar with an amazing view of skyscrapers all around, and I was pretty amazed by the scale of everything. Then Dave told me to take a look over the edge of the building and I realised for the first time that we were already fifteen stories up - quite a surreal experience.
The whole experience was extremely enjoyable, and a great little break before a return to... more of a break.
I think the oddest thing I noticed was that Dave and Alex had shipped EVERYTHING from back home for their two year stay in Hong Kong. I had a rather bizarre experience of déjà vu when I noticed their dustbin was the same one they had back in London.
Still, if you're going to do something, I suppose it's best to do it properly.
And seriously - love you guys, thanks again.