"Can i have a knife and fork please?"

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Chunking Mansions

Flag of Hong Kong  ,
Monday, June 5, 2006

Its always hard writing these things when you actually visited the city 2 months ago - yeah I know been a bit slack recently! But I'll give it a go!

Hong Kong has never really been on the top of my lists of places to go, but after hearing everyone rave about it here, and the fact that I had to stop here on route anyway, I thought I'd give 1t 48 hours of my life!

The flight wasn't actually too bad, it's the first time I've flown a carrier that have personal televisions in each head rest so I spent most of the 12 hours channel hopping - well with 50 channels its hard not too!

I flew with Cathay Pacific, which I was reliably informed won best Airline of the year. The air hostesses weren't really up to Virgin standards, but the food was top notch and they did make everyone laugh during their safety video, cutting from Chinese to English to say "Brace Brace" ("When you hear Brace Brace take this position") I take it there isn't a Chinese word for Brace?

We didn't land until 10pm so we got a great view of the spectacular skyline Hong Kong has to offer. I've never seen so many skyscrapers! After collecting my baggage I was ushered along to the Taxi queue. Haven't not been to Asia before it was a bit overwhelming, fortunately because of previous British rule, most signs were translated in English, so at least I knew where to go!

In typical style, I hadn't even thought about booking any accommodation before arriving. I had read beforehand that Hong Kong isn't cheap to stay in, the only affordable place being a massive tower block that held guesthouses called Chunking Mansions. Not being able to afford the Hilton this time (my choice of accommodation usually) I had to settle for here. Warning bells should have rang when the taxi driver laughed when I said did he know the place?!

From the time I got off the plane to the time I was sitting in the Taxi, I had been in air conditioned comfort, so it was a bit of a shock stepping out of the taxi into 35 degree humidity (it was now midnight!) I didn't have time to move before I was pounced upon by people trying to sell me their guesthouse in the infamous Chunking Mansions. After a bit of haggling I managed to get a single room for about $30AUD (12 pound) a night. A bargain I thought.

It wasn't until I got there that I started to have my doubts! Although ensuite, I had a bucket to flush the toilet, and although it was sold as a single, it strangely had 2 beds, it took a while to confirm that I wouldn't be getting randoms walking in during the night! If you have ever seen the film 'The Beach,' the first scene where you see Leo walk into his hostel room in Thailand... wells that's how I felt! Both beds were disgustingly dirty, but I chose the single after seeing a huge cockroach walk across the double! But in true British style, I was far too polite to complain, just said it was nice and said goodnight to the manager! I went for a brief walk, but with Jet lag starting to set in I called it a night.

Waking up in the morning to bed bugs crawling over your skin is really not a good advert for another night here, so I packed up and moved a few floors up, after seeing the name of this guesthouse, I remembered reading that this was the only decent place in the Mansions to stay at. Although 100 times cleaner, it was hardly the Ritz but it would do for my final night.

With only the day and night left here, I was in for a lot of walking so left and headed down to the Star Ferry terminal to take me over to Hong Kong Island. I was here in June, the worse time for weather, so after checking the skies thought it best to buy an umbrella. Now you would think seeing as the British ruled Hong Kong for hundreds of years, the lady in the corner shop would understand English. Apparently not because for the next 10 minutes I proceeded to try and describe an umbrella to the lady charades style, using my hands to act out rain!

I spent the day just walking around ticking all the boxes in my Hong Kong guidebook. I actually managed to see nearly everything the book says you need 3 days for! I visited a temple, with its ceiling adjourned with joss sticks burning away, countless markets, an aviary and Zoo in the heart of the city and even managed to get up to the 40th floor of The Bank of China building. Feeling peckish I went into a food court. To say I felt intimidated with 200 sets of eyes watching me try to use my chopsticks was an understatement.

Walking around one particular corner, I noticed loads of film camera's and police. I stood there for 20minutes, but being the only white person there, didn't have a clue what was going on. It was only after watching the news later on in the evening that I found out a crazed axe man killed a woman down an alleyway! Hmm!

One of Hong Kong's biggest tourist attractions is the peak overlooking Hong Kong and its harbour, I got up there by catching the cable car up there, but unfortunately because of the weather as soon as I got up there, all I could see was clouds! The only good thing about it was the temperature finally dropped, giving a bit of restbite from the heat and humidity! I was going to stay until sunset, but I thought it was hardly worth it!

At 10pm I called it a night, looking at the map, I worked out I had walked at least 20 kms, and seen more than most people would in a day. Walking around, I promised myself a beer in the bar underneath the apartments, but after seeing the price (5 quid) I decided to buy take out and drink by myself in my room! It was good being able to do what you want and go where you choose, but I still would prefer to travel with a companion. Sitting alone in a room drinking beer by yourself can be quite depressing.

Oh well, England here we come!

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