When we were planning this year of travel, on impulse we decided to spend a few days in Hong Kong because we were landing there on the way from Kota Kinabalu to Vancouver. I’m delighted that we did. After a year of visiting some interesting and out of the way places and staying in tents, hostels and guest houses, we did a very upscale visit to Hong Kong. Five star hotel on the Kowloon waterfront, some fascinating tours, some great food and a lot of pampering.
I had reread James Clavell’s novels (Tai Pan and Noble House) before arriving – but the huge reclamation projects in both Hong Kong/Kowloon and Macao meant that many of the places we were exploring didn’t exist before 1990. Hong Kong is still heavily centered on trade and finance and the deep Victoria harbour is still busy with ships of every description and many international companies send goods bound for China through Hong Kong because it gives a financial advantage.
People in Hong Kong describe their city (8 million people) as small by Chinese standards. They are proud of their British heritage and despite the “One country two rules” slogan see that they are not part of China. We also took a day trip to Macao where the situation was similar but different. Macao was always part of China, but administered by Portugal, so our guide had a different way of describing her city. Both places are bilingual but with Cantonese being the language spoken, not Mandarin. It’s clear that these cities are very affluent and look to the west for their way of living. Streets are clean, infrastructure is first rate, and the crazy crowds of people we came to expect in Asian cities just weren’t there. Even on our walking tour into the old part of Hong Kong, the crowds were like I have come to expect in a Canadian city.
Touristing in Hong Kong was different in a lot of ways. No refreshing hikes through great scenery and no cute photos of animals, bugs and other beasties. Instead there were colours, sights, textures and people to fascinate the senses. Most interesting was the thick fog that permeated everything. In the spring, the hot air meeting the cold gives fog so thick that you will see nearby buildings peeking through but not completely showing themselves. The locals say that summer (May to October) is much better because it is sunny and hot (+35 not unusual) and humidity is close to 100%. I’ll take the fog. There were a few things old but mostly new partly because we were in the reclaimed areas of town, but also because of the major destruction of Hong Kong during World War Two.
We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If we pass this way again, a few more days in Hong Kong will definitely be part of the plan.
|Fascinating lamp in our room|
|Dinner in the "not fancy" restaurant included flowers|
|...tablecloth and fancy setting for utensils|
|desert plate for those who could not decide. |
Wee cup of mango pudding, something jellyish
and a warm sesame ball with chocolate
|Very cool warriors guarding the lobby. The concierges wore|
suits and had big smiles, but looked like they could take care
of anything that might happen.
|"Beat the Banana" race for cancer research. |
This fellow was using an Asian zumba sort of
approach to warm up the crowd
|Find the banana|
|Tourist watching on the avenue of stars|
|Wherever this is water there will be fishermen|
|Hong Kong History Museum bathroom doors.|
|Pretty cool jewellery|
|Wedding procession. At the front, are boxes of dowry -|
just like we saw on Lombok.
|And guardian dragons|
|The fellow who lost the Opium WAr (and thus allowing the|
British to claim the island of Hong Kong
|Another Singer sewing machine|
|Uniform of nursing staff. Prisoner of war camp. Check out the|
many tiny patches of fabric to keep this shirt repaired.
|Of course this would be the sign for a hardware store.|
|Left is the tallest building in Hong Kong (#4 in the world)|
In front is a major mall/office tower
|Bamboo scaffolding and building wrapped so nothing falls on|
those below. Actually, the bottom three floors were already
|Macao tour. Our guide with her pink flag|
|Graceful bridges from the mainland to the two islands|
also part of Macao.
|Bilingual Cantonese and Portugese|
|Taoist temple A Ma - Sailors thought this was the name of the|
|Some might see this as a tiled sidewalk.|
I see it as a great quilty inspiration
|Maritime museum had some fantastic artwork|
|Chinese compass - not sure how it works but it|
|Macao with its early fortifications. Land reclamation has|
almost doubled the size.
|Rope maker that looks just like some of the machines for spinning|
cotton or silk threads.
|The oldest gate (1600s)|
|One of the 35 casinos|
|16th century statue rescued from the fire at St. Peter's church|
|Facade of St. Peter's church. Unique because of it's Asian|
symbols mixed with Christian ones
|Looking thoughtful. Actually, there was a sewing machine|
shop around the corner that I was wondering if it also had fabric...
|Dutch style building.|
|The view from the top was fantastic. Excuse the colour which is|
from the thick fog that actually kept us out of the harbour
for more than an hour.
|Bungy jumping companies have wicked senses of humour|
|One falling person|
|My foot carefully placed on the glass so I could photo|
the base of the tower. The other foot was
carefully planted on real floor.
|Another cool statue - this one of dragon boaters - outside|
|For perspective, the highest part of the bridge on the right|
side is tall enough to let ocean going cargo vesssels
into the inner harbour
|The spirit who protects Macao perched|
on a lotus flower.
|Our box of cookies. Apparently Macao is noted for its cookies.|
|Original bedrock integrated into the wall supporthing the|
roads above the ground level road
|It was fascinating to wander past all these designer label|
flagship stores and peek in the windows.
|At first I thought this was an interesting sort of suit jacket.|
Actually, it's an advertisement for Armani making suits
|Please look sideways. Like most cities we visited, Hong Kong uses|
bamboo scaffolding to construct buildings, even the tall skyscrapers.
It's a licensed trade and the 57 qualified journeymen are kept very
busy with all the construction happening.
|Many of the window displays were more art than sales|
|This little boy and his dad were walking down|
the street sightseeing the windows just
like I was. Dad would have been taking
his son to school. Compulsary from age 3 to
end of secondary school (15 years)
|Yes, the sales person in suit and tie is polishing the floor of the|
window display. Other people were washing/polishing the
|Genuine penny farthing bike|
|Traditional toys including a slinky, all of which had been|
manufactured in Hong Kong at one time (no longer)
|Banyan trees seem to be able to send down roots into and|
|Door knobs to a mall. Honest.|
|More bamboo scaffolding. Artwork IMHO|
|Our hotel complex|
|I went in search of "Chinese Arts and Crafts". Turns out|
it was a very pricy store selling original artwork.
|Embroidery on the headboard of or bed.|
|This banyan tree was on the wall surrounding the college that|
Dr. Sun Yat Sen attended to become a western trained
|Our guide with the market stall that sells sugar cane juice|
made fresh while you wait. Not too sweet, no additives.
|Chopsticks and soup spoons in the local cafe where|
we had the most perfect wan ton soup. .It's been rated as one of the
five best places to eat in Hong Kong
|On our way back by Star Ferry. We are looking at where the|
ferry dock used to be before land reclamation started.
The dock is now a brisk walk to the left of this photo.
|...out past the ferris wheel.|
|First time in our time here that there was enough sunshine|
that the buildings actually showed their colours.
|Looking at the Kowloon side from our ferry.|
|Not a real junk, but you can still ride the harbour in it.|
|Our ferry. As an indication of how much land has been reclaimed,|
This ferry took 8 minutes to cross the harbour. It took 20 minutes
From Hong Kong, it was a slow trip home to Grimshaw. The long plane trip from Hong Kong to Vancouver was made interesting by watching the under plane camera. The pilot, with North American accent, welcomed us to Vancouver with the weather report – cold and +15 but at least it isn’t raining. We had our first North American cup of coffee – the very biggest dark roast brewed coffee available.
|Take off in Hong Kong. My enthusiasm for technology even|
got the young man in the seat next to me interested.
|Getting closer. My body says time for bed. |
The time is about noon
|Descending. We are flying over Nanaimo says my|
|Touchdown in Vancouver|
|Love the artwork in airports.|
Just want to say I never was this frazzled
|From the Westjet magazine on the way to Edmonton.|
|Trust me on this. Some of the white is clouds, but most of|
it is snow covered mountains as we fly over the Rockies