Sunday, 10 April 2011

Arrived in Hong Kong

Sunday 10th April 2011

MP3 track of the day: This is the world that we live in – The Killers

Weather: The morning fog lifted to produce a lovely day. For the first time in weeks there were fluffy white clouds dotted within a baby blue sky. It was also hot.

I was gently woken up by the ticket inspector; the time was just after midnight and we had a short stop. I walked quickly to the restroom before heading back to the coach. I didn't know how long the break was scheduled for and I didn't want the coach to drive off without me.


I had been told that I would arrive, within Hong Kong, at around 10am. I had therefore concluded that I would be able to sleep until 9am before leisurely packing my stuff. I had completely forgotten about immigration.


I'd slept beautifully and unfortunately I was, once more, woken up by the ticket inspector. It wasn't 9am, oh no … it was 6am. Not completely awake I 'panic packed' as I wasn't sure what was going on but, looking at the people around me, I knew that I would be departing the coach soon. As it happened I was ready before the coach stopped. The American couple waited for me and took me through Chinese immigration. On the way the American guy asked if I had a departure card. I hadn't. Luckily he had spare forms and so he gave me a set. It did make me think though; when I'd entered China, at 2am four days ago, I'd forgotten to ask about a departure card. Thinking about it more I hadn't even filled in an arrival card. I shrugged, it was 2am in the morning when I entered China and so, understandably, I wasn't thinking to my full capacity.

The Chinese immigration went fine though, without the American couple, I would have gotten lost many times over. As I left immigration a Chinese lady told be to head to the left whereas the American couple told me to stay with them. The Chinese lady, having herd that I wanted to go to 'Wan Chi', on Hong Kong island, had given me directions to a shuttle pick-up point, which would have cost me more money. The American couple explained this and said that the coach, I had already paid for, would pick me up from the point where we were standing ... in an hour or so. We chatted the time away until a coach pulled up.

It was a normal seater coach, with leather seats, but little leg room. I wasn't on the coach long before I reached Hong Kong Immigration. Still half asleep I followed the Americans through immigration and back onto the coach. The coach then started it's long journey through the 'new territories', 'Kowloon' and finally onto Hong Kong Island itself. As I looked out of the window I saw the buildings get progressively better the nearer I got to Hong Kong Island. This was a good thing as the buildings on the outer islands were, lets say, not at their best. Huge white towers that had turned black with years of dirt; windows were smashed and I did truly wonder if I was in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The American couple departed the coach before I. I opened my guidebook and tried to look-up the road names with little success. As we drove, quite quickly, down Hong Kong's highways I came to realise that Hong Kong is very big. I also realised that vehicles drove on the left and the road laws were similar to the UK, but more importantly, they were followed (unlike mainland China). I was eventually dropped off in 'Wan Chi' – kind of the middle of Hong Kong. With the sea to my left, and the city to my right, I knew that I had to head straight to reach 'Causeway Bay', where my hostel was located. Once there it took me a while to find my hostel. There weren't any signs and, in the end, I had to ask someone for directions. Luckily he knew the address and I followed his instructions, cursing the fact that the hostel hadn't put any directions on 'hostelworld'.

Eventually I pulled up to an apartment block; looking at the address I had written down, I wanted the third floor. I pressed the button for the third floor but no reply was given. Fortunately it didn't take long until a rather attractive European lady opened the door. Once on the third floor I made my way to the hostel where, due to the fact it was 9am, I had to wait a while before my bed was ready. I sat down within the common room and chatted to an Hungarian. He seemed to be working over here and he had a piece of text, in English, that he wanted checking for mistakes. As I was having problems connecting to the internet I had a look, surprised to see a very high level of English. The words he had used were very complex – some even I didn't understand – however, due to the amount of complex words used in each sentence, the meaning was diluted. I recommend only a few changes and it didn't take long. Once this was done I went back to reception and was shown to my dorm.

Well I've stayed in worse. I'm not sure if it was the pokey dorm, the fact that there were four doors to unlock - to get to said dorm - or the fact that the bathroom looked a little grotty but I was already looking forward to my flight to Shanghai. I quickly dumped my bags within my room, locked them up, and headed out into the wider world. The clouds were clearing to produce a lovely blue sky. Not wanting to waste this opportunity I decided to head towards the center of town with my camera. First of all though I went into a local bar to ask whether they were showing the F1 race today. It took a little while to explain what Formula One was but, in the end, I got a nervous 'yes'. I then left heading towards the city.

Causeway bay, which was where I'm located, wasn't that great; the buildings were old and lacked thought (basically they were the standard tower blocks that take minutes to erect). However, in the distance, the city center of Hong Kong could be seen and what a pretty sight it was. As I walked towards the many towers that faced me I stopped occasionally to take the odd photo. Hong Kong doesn't seem especially 'pedestrian friendly' as I had to make many walking de-tours (crossing pedestrian bridges, back tracking and getting lost) to make it to the city center. When I arrived it was worth the hassle. Every building seemed to be a architectural master piece with the old blending well with the new. My camera was becoming red hot as around every corner loomed another beautiful skyscraper. Even with the huge crowds of people I was thoroughly enjoying myself and the time passed quickly.

I stopped for a quick bite before continuing to the riverfront. Located there was a tower that was used in the film 'Batman: The Dark Night'. It was very impressive, and very tall. At this point it was around 2:30pm; I decided to head back to the bar I had found previously. Due to the sheer amount of people and the complicated maze of pedestrian bridges and footpaths (that don't seem to connect together) it took almost an hour to arrive. Once through the bar doors I peered onto the TV's hoping the race hadn't started. It hadn't, but neither were they going to show it. Instead they had some film on and so, quite annoyed and a little sweaty, I headed out to another bar my hostel receptionist had recommended.

... Malaysian GP here 4pm!...” A board outside the pub stated. I hadn't missed it; In getting there I'd had a run in with a policewoman (who wasn't happy with me, crossing the street, with no 'green man' ... even when there was no traffic on the road. See how things have changed since a week ago) but it had been worth it. I sat down, coke in hand, and nursed it through the entire race. Well it wasn't the outcome I hoped for; it seemed Hamilton destroyed his tires a lot quicker than other drivers would be interesting to find out if he was nursing any sort of problem.

I left the pub around 5:30pm and headed back to my hostel. The internet still wasn't working and so I headed, yet again, to 'McDonalds' to check my flight details, upload this blog and enjoy a hot chocolate and a cheesecake (they were both rather nice). Yes indeedly it seems that Hong Kong's internet laws are not as strict as the mainland; I still need to find a 'work around' before I get to Shanghai.

So this marks the end of my first day here in Hong Kong; tomorrow, if the weathers good, I'm going to take the train up 'The Peak' to get a great panoramic view of the city … only if the weathers good.

So the outskirts of Hong Kong are a little grotty, it's extremely busy and trying to get anywhere, on foot, is a little difficult. Yet the architecture is incredible and that makes up for all of Hong Kong's faults. So far, I love this city!

Toodle Pip!

P.S. I seem to have lost a camera memory card. Midway through this afternoon I had filled a card and I went to get another out of my bag. I had the one I bought in Nanning but I should have had another spare. I've searched my bag but nothing; fortunately it was an empty card (which makes me wonder if I had actually purchased it in the first place) and, with a spare USB memory stick, I've transferred a cards worth of photos onto that.

P.P.S There are loads of places that you can purchase cake! Also my favorite Belgium chocolate shop has a store here … happy days.

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