Hong Kong, June 2006

A long way from home…

After having been upgraded on my flight to Hong Kong, I arrived in good spirits to a very hot, humid city. I arrived in the area in which I will be staying for the next few days: Mong Kok. The night before I left London I spoke to guy who had lived in Hong Kong for a year and amongst other great advice he described Mongkok: “It’s a shit-hole, mate!”. (great, i thought!) The Rough Guide entry was slightly more diplomatic and kind, merely saying it was an example of a “more authentic local Chinese neighbourhood”. In reality, I was struck by shades of both these descriptions. It’s a supremely over-populated, congested and “non-touristy” area but after a while, there is a certain charm to it. I must admit, I was failing to see this charm throughout the hour I spent walking around in circles trying to find my damn hotel! The neighbourhood is chock full of small diners/stalls serving, at times, incredibly smelly local food, none of which I have yet been brave enough to eat – maybe tomorrow?! As well as this, there are more facilities which serve what seems to be Hong Kong’s national (sort of) past-time: shopping! Even late at night, large regional chain stores are open to business and the streets are full of people wandering in and out of the shops – shopping just seems to be their obsession!

In the evening I took the MTR (basically the tube) into the Southern part of the Kowloon side of Hong Kong and had a look around the notorious Chunking Mansions – a huge tower block where the less celubrious of hostels/guesthouses reside and at the bottom of which lie various dodgy shops selling cheap tack, fake everything as well as offering to tailor suits – not just yet thanks!

I continued south on Kowloon and tried (in vain) to take a decent shot of the beautiful nightime vista over the harbour to Hong Kong Island before boarding the ferry. Once on Hong Kong Island, I made a bee-line for one of Hong Kong’s most popular spot to eat and drink: Lan Kwai Fong. I made my way through the narrow streets of this area, avoiding drunk revellers as I went and found a nice spot to get a bite to eat. From here, I could look out and watch all the amusing goings on, including an impromtu dance by a load of Canadian Ice Hockey players and their respective cheer-leaders (at least, I assume they were cheer leaders!).

Two beers was enough for me considering I hadn’t slept properly in a good 24 hours and given that I smelt like crap (my ruck sack didn’t arrive off my plane so I have no spare clothes, it’s due to be delivered tomorrow) so I went home, planned the next day’s activities and went off to a well earned sleep in my lovely box of a hotel room.

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