Last weekend the H and I went to Hong Kong for a long weekend. Family and friends will know that there’s always been some banter between me and the H about HK.
Initially it was something I used to tease the H about. More specifically, I used to tease him about the HK Skyline. Early on in our relationship he’d been sent to HK on business and there’d been a trip organised on a traditional junk. The group had sailed to Lamma Island for dinner and returned in the evening, marvelling at the Hong Kong Skyline; the buildings lit up by spectacular lights. It was too much not to tease him about it (he’d go into a rapture describing it). When I checked out Trip Advisor for things to do in HK, the first thing on the list was the HK Skyline…!
Another reason for the banter was the possibility at one point, of being sent there on a posting. “No, never” was my response. “I’m never going to move to HK. It’s too far away, it’s hot and sweaty, it’s crowded, I won’t get the dogs in…I hate it!”
“Oh…have you already been then?”
“No…I’ve never been”
“How do you know you hate it???”
“Because I just do!”
And that was my my stance. Like a small child refusing to try broccoli.
Of course this raised a few eyebrows, but among our expat friends there were two definite camps; those who’d absolutely loved Hong Kong and would go misty eyed reminiscing about their days on the Peak and those who hadn’t enjoyed the heat, sweatiness, crowds… You see, it wasn’t just me!
So fast forward a few years. I’ve now lived in a country where it’s taken me 24hrs of travel to get back to the UK. I’ve lived in the most populous city in the world. I have survived a summer that was akin to living 4 months in the steam room of a turkish bath (sweaty but the cleanest skin ever)…Do you think maybe I should reconsider??
The H travels to HK and China fairly regularly from India. He always urges me to go with him, I’ve always said “hmmmm it’s not convenient, I’ve got to find a kennel for the dogs (found one now), you’ll be working, blah blah blah”. The patience of a saint that man.
Aaaaanyway, long story short, I finally said yes. Lets go to HK, show me the sights, show me the lights, show me what all the fuss is about. And here’s the kicker … I liked it.
Yes it was hot and sweaty but everyone is in shorts. Everyone is in shorts and no one bats an eyelid – even at my pasty legs that had cars honking in Mumbai. Yes it was crowded but everyone moves with purpose, no random wandering like tourists down Oxford Street. It wasn’t dirty, it was extremely clean. No litter, no dog mess (I even saw people washing down the spot where their dogs had peed with a splash of water). The public transport is punctual and efficient. The HK travel card is called the Octopus card. You can use it on ALL forms of public transport, you can use it in shops to pay for stuff…you can use it almost everywhere. You can’t eat on public transport or the ticket only areas of the metro. So no stinky trains, sticky seats…even areas that have high hand traffic; hand rails, ticket machines are disinfected every couple of hours.
And there are food outlets everywhere. You can eat any type of food at anytime, practically anywhere…which is great except … IT’S REALLY EXPENSIVE.
Yup, that’s the only real problem …( and the preternatural mosquitos whose bites left me with welts akin to nipples). Prices in HK are eyewateringly high. I bought 2 items in Marks & Spencer that I can never find here in India. In my joy at having found them I didn’t check the price, so when the amount came up, I was like “Esqueeze me??”
Double the price! I paid it because I needed the items, but it was a shock. I clutched my purchases to my bosom for the rest of the day like they were treasures!
So what else did I do apart from buying outrageously priced stuff from Marks & Spencer? Well, on the first day we walked around Central, had a yummy Dim Sum lunch and took the cable car to Victoria Peak. We walked down to Mid Levels to get the famous escalator down. The Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system in Hong Kong is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. However, the escalator direction changes in the afternoon so we carried on walking all the way down to the harbour. In hindsight this was not a good plan. Walking downhill for over three hours, in flip flops, sets you up for crippling calf pain, a funny walk and comedy noises every time you have to go up or down stairs…for the rest of the trip.
On the second day we took the Metro to Lantau Island and then the cable car to the Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha. Then we took a taxi to Discovery Bay for lunch (a bit strange Discovery Bay – very residential with a small sea front area and no cars). Then the ferry back to Central.
On the third day we took the bus to Stanley Bay for lunch and a little potter about. Then back to Central for a wander about Fashion Walk (not a street but an area) and Victoria Park. Still hobbling and muttering at this point.
On the last morning we had a quick Dim Sum lunch in Kowloon and then got the train to the airport. At the train station you can check in and leave your luggage. It gets sent on to the airport and put on your plane. Cool no?
And then a 12hr journey home via Delhi…but we won’t dwell on that.
So all in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and I would go again…with better shoes this time. The legs have recovered, the waistline will take a little longer. The mosquito bites refuse to stop itching…The H took some beautiful photographs, which are the photos included. These are his photos and all the ownership/copyright stuff applies.
I would just like to add one last thing…
I PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT HONG KONG IS A GREAT PLACE TO VISIT. THE HONG KONG SKYLINE IS TRULY IMPRESSIVE AS YOU ALWAYS SAID IT WAS MY LOVE (but I still don’t want to live there…I’m just saying).