Update: Added a few links to relevant flickr-hosted pics.
I’m back… and not even hangover… Must be all the chlorine in the water neutralizing the alcohol.
So, where were we?
Yes: The Sights. But before:
Alone in Hong Kong
I actually “visited” Hong Kong twice before. Mind the bold quotes here, as on both occasions, my visits were little more than short layovers spanning over a single night. Each time, I was taken care of, the moment I exited the airport: once by a friend who lived there, another time by the contact of a San Francisco friend who had arranged a sweet gig in passing, on my way to Thailand. Needless to say: all I saw of the city then, was a bunch of cool neon streets, glitzy lounge bars atop vertiginous buildings and semi-conscious rides back to the airport with the sun rising beautifully over the bay. Unfortunately (or perhaps not?) all those people have long left for greener pastures and, not expecting to arrive on my own, I had made no effort to look for HK-residing cicerones amidst my extended circle of acquaintances.
This is therefore my first real sightseeing trip to the city, and the first time admiring its lovely surroundings in broad daylight. Definitely worth it, if a bit regrettably lonely. On that note, I must say that even if I had many an interesting chats with locals and other visitors (mostly the latter, actually), HK definitely belongs to the category of destinations that are more fun doing with a travel buddy: unlike Tokyo for example, where most locals are willing, nearly eager, to establish contact with visitors and go out of their way, trying to get around the language barrier, Hongkongers appear much less inclined to mingle with the foreigners. I suppose it may have to do with the past few centuries of colonial entanglement, or maybe it’s just me. Don’t get me wrong I had a blast, but definitely felt like it could have been improved by some travelling company. And do not cite expat bars as proof that a single guy can have his fun in this city too (we’ll come to this later).
The Sights (cont.)
Yesterday, after Po Lin, I did the quintessential tram ride to the Peak. Took it around 5:30 and thus managed to catch both a cloudy sunset and a much more impressive view of the whole city by night. I had gotten a return ticket, but the weather being very mild, I walked my way down, catching many nice sights along the way.
As an aside: I said I was surprised at how uncrowded both places where yesterday (I didn’t even have to line to get on the tram, despite supposedly boarding around peak hour): when I went by the tram this afternoon on my way to the park, it was way, way more crowded… Apparently, half of China come spend their week-ends there or something. In any case, beats me why any foreigner wouldn’t want to do that stuff on a weekday, when there’s nobody around.
Following Jonathan‘s recommendation, I checked out Very Good Rest (or more exactly: 極之好… As I’m not even sure I saw the Anglicized name anywhere): very good indeed, if a bit rough in the service, which I guess is just me needing to get over my Tokyo habits. Beware though: if you do not speak the local idiom, expect to choose from one of the five pictures available amidst a sea of hanzis. Being the adventurous one, I disdainfully ignored the pretty pictures, and went for something that my ever useful semi-reading skills told me contained beef, veggies, sweet and sour… Since the noodles didn’t have that tangy taste so characteristic of dog meat, I suppose I must have had it right…
Before and after my dinner break, I wandered around aimlessly through Mon Kok markets, not really about to buy any more crap at the moment (having just trashed a dozen metric cubes of it) but nonetheless enjoying the ambiance very much, as well as the many many “hourly hotels” scattered through the neighbourhood, equally sharing in the unintentionally ironic names (Hotel Virginia anyone?)…
Boarding is about to end and I’d hate to miss that one, so I’ll keep my adventures in Hong Kong’s very own armpit of Lon Kwai Fong for tomorrow.