Did someone say Yum Cha?

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I love Hong Kong. Truly. Not that friendly, plutonic kind of love. I'm talking wild, passionate love. Why? Fuck knows. As I slump my backpack onto the floor of my overpriced Causeway Bay guestroom, I've already experienced some of it - that Hong Kong excitement, vigour, energy, brilliance which, frankly, is unmatched on the Chinese mainland. At first, I suspected that it might be the result of the lack of sleep following my trip on the sleeper bus from China (why is it that the guy that snores the loudest always gets to sleep first?). I was wrong. Fully refreshed, the same vivace feeling remained, even a world away from the Hong Kong remembered from so many years ago. To be honest, I don't remember anything about Hong Kong island. From some 15 years ago, my most vivid memories are of the Star Ferry, night markets, Nike Air Jordan 5s, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Jumper and running races at Kowloon Cricket Club. Hong Kong Island certainly doesn't really figure, and Causeway Bay most certainly doesn't. Thus, wandering around the packed shopping district of Causeway Bay is all new and exciting. No purchases are made of course, having become accustomed to CHinese prices. Further, Hong Kong uses the $ as its currency, which leads to an in built reaction of outrage when charged $30 for a coffee or $19 for a bus ride.

THe packed sidewalks of Causeway Bay are a death trap. You know why? Umbrellas. Fucking umbrellas of death. The miserable rainy weather and the prevelance of Hong Kong princesses ensures that there is always someone ready to stab you in the eye with an open brolley. As I write this I am blind - seriously.

Just as Hong Kong island feels new, Kowloon is where my fond memories of HK derive. The very first morning I arrived in Hong Kong, I caught the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha tsui on the mainland in Kowloon and grabbed a Hong Kong hot dog, just as I recall doing back in 1991 (?). The view from Tsim Sha Tsui towards Hong Kong is awesome. Brilliant. I maintain it is the most beautiful in the world, despite the clouds that permanently hover during the mid-year months.

The weather has been atrocious. Fucking weather. It's hampered me a little in the first few days. Forever the meteorological optimist, I have held out on visiting the popular outdoor sights of Hong Kong, such as Victoria Peak and the Big Buddha. A fine day will come and I will be poised to take advantage. So, faced with consistent rain, I have been forced indoors, or braved the umbrella wielding maniacs on long walks around the city, my perennial Plan B throughout my trip so far. Indoors, I've found the fantastic history museum, which features an excellent and insightful examination of the circumstances surrounding the ceding of Hong Kong to the British. It has it all - sex, drugs, rock'n'roll (but without the sex and rock'n'roll). On "Free Museum Wednesday" (name made up - not actually officially called this), I found the Space Museum. No doubt founded during those eras when everyone loved all things Space and Science (y'know - like when Perth opened Scitech), the Space Museum is not particular Hong Kong, but it was till kind of entertaining. It was at least fun to talk at 1/6th gravity.

And Plan B? Well, in the end, every city I've been to has been all about walking. The best walking place? Mongkok. Awesome. I'm not sure whether it's the effect of my memories of Hong Kong or not, but I have a really special fondness for Kowloon and mongkok that I don't entirely have for the island. I love the fact that Kowloon is so much more Chinese; I love the fact that food on a stick is much more readily available; I love the markets where tireless searching is rewarded by cheap shoes (yep - that's right - last pair of cons are dead already. Cons Mk III now in place). At the same time, knowing me all too well, if I were to live in Hong KOng, I probably wouldn't end up living in Mongkok. My Lawley apartment is exhibit A.

Half of the fun in Hong KOng is getting around, especially on the cheap. Best way to get around? Well, at least for the tourist, it's gotta be the tram and the star ferry. They're so damn cheap, especially compared to the MTR. The star ferry across the harbour in particular, is such a beautiful, romantic journey that I would probably never tire of. It reminds me very much of the ride from South Perth to Perth...

A little bit of templing, a bit of botanical garden action and walking, walking walking. That's about it so far. Love it. Love it all...

Anyway, to the Top 5. A lot of my time as I've travelled through China (including Hong Kong), I've though about what the cities wold be like to live in. You know how sometimes you go to places and you love them, but you know you couldn't live there. But at the same time there are those cities that may not be the most remarkable places to visit, but would be pleasant living cities. Well, having reflected, pondered, and lost many nights sleep over the issue, I have now come up with the definitive list of "The Top 5 Chinese cities to live in". I know that everyone has their own opinion but mine is right. Ok - well, I probably can't really rate the 3,000,000 Chinese cities that I've never visited, but I can at least make a list based on the cities visited thus far. (i was going to do these in CHinese characters, but Hong Kong computers only speak Cantonese...)

5. Hangzhou
4. Xiamen
3. Qingdao
2. Shanghai
1. Hong Kong

Oh - unfortunately, the Hong Kong public library does not allow me to upload any photos from their computers, so the photos will have to wait until I find an internet cafe or a more traveller-friendly library.

More to come from Hong Kong...
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