Scaling the Heights

Trip Start Aug 06, 2009
Trip End Jan 01, 2010

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Flag of Hong Kong  ,
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hong Kong was a bit of a shock compared to Beijing. There are shops with price tags, English signs everywhere, and when the green man lights up, the cars actually stop and let you cross in peace. The trams are the coolest thing ever; they were actually imported all the way from Glasgow. Our hostel was a bit random - located in the middle of an expensive shopping district with posters everywhere saying that the hostel was operating illegaly. But it was the cheapest thing we could find on the island, even though we had to sacrifice not having a window for a week.

Getting lost is pretty easy in Hong Kong, everything looks the same, scyscrapers in every direction. We got used to wandering around for half an hour until we would find a sign for Patterson St. The weather was also so lovely and hot that we went swimming with Iain and Sarah in Victoria Park. The lanes were twice as long as we're used to so it was a bit of a struggle at first. But we soon discovered the diving board and caused distress to the lifeguards for a full half hour. Practically alll the swimmers were male, so we left thinking we had been to a gay swimming pool.

We also spent most of our time trying to find some table tennis tables. We eventually ended up in a Private Sportscentre one night and just asked for table tennis and he directed us straight to them, no payment or anything. It was quite odd. We then felt a bit silly when we dragged Iain and Sarah along during the day and got kicked out within 15 minutes as we weren't members. No matter how much we begged to be members for an hour, or a day, or a week, they were having none of it. The Indian Recreation Club wouldn't let us play either, but they invited us for some Indian Cuisine instead. Feeling pretty bummed we left, but a miracle turned up the next day as Iain and Sarah found a public place with tables where they were staying, in Happy Valley. We got to play to our hearts content, within an hour.

The only touristy thing you can really do in Hong Kong is to go up the Peak. But it is an awesome one at that. Originally built by a Scotman with the name of Smith (perhaps a distant relation?) in the 1800s the rich Brits would go up to drink gin and tonic away from the heat of the city. All the Chinese people push and shove into the tram, which is pulled up almost vertically causing the children to cry out in alarm. You can get brief glimpses of the city along the way but it is not until you pay extra to go to the rooftop that you get the real views. It was unusally stunning, having seen nature in all its beauty on Olkhon Island in contrast with a fantastic array of towering buildings in the sunset.

Other things one could do would be going up to the top floor of the expensive bars that rip you of all your money on a single drink. But it's worth it. We went to Wooloomooloo on the 32nd floor and had a perfect view of what we were told was the Batman tower. You can tell the time by four lights which change colour every 15 minutes. We also took a ferry on another night (only cost 20p!) to go to another roof top to see the light show. We didn't know what to expect, and it definitely wasn't what we had been expecting - it consisted of the skyscrapers doing their own thing really. Some sported green lasers blasting off into the sky and others lit up with pretty patterns along their sides.

Iain and Sarah were staying with Sarah's cousin who turned out to be from Kelso. It was very peculiar hearing the Borders accent half way across the world. He's got a job teaching Rugby in the most expensive private school in the world. They took us out to this very elaborate Chinese restaurant where you have to pre-order your roast duck, or strange chicken wrapped in some kind of cloth and cooked in clay, or other weird inventions. We had a whole load of starters, ranging from chicken with cashews to beef pockets. We were all stuffed before we realised that that was only the first course, we still had a whole duck to go! But we just about managed it.

Since Hong Kong turned out to be much more expensive than we thought, we had to try and find somewhere cheap in China that we could hang out until our visa for Vietnam becomes valid. We were grateful when Iain and Sarah told us about a place called Yangshuo, the 2nd most visited place by tourists after the Great Wall in the whole of China. They also informed us that there are hundred of English schools there where people can volunteer to teach English to the Chinese. Even better! So here we are now, enjoying the atmosphere, the heat, and the friendly faces, not to forget the adorable Chinese toddlers who say Hullo to every Westener they see.
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Rahmani on

the photos just get better and better

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