Hello from Kyoto Japan! It’s as wonderful and confusing as you’d imagine here. And we’re not very good at finding wifi so I’m a bit behind with the old blog. Here’s a post about our time in Hong Kong
So onwards we went on our Asian adventure. Next stop: Hong Kong.
The airport experience getting out of Kuala Lumpur was a total nightmare. I’m not quite sure why we got in such a pickle, but I think it’s because we’ve been flying a lot recently and were on automatic pilot mode (Ho Ho)
Basically, we arrived at the airport, did a self check in on a little screen, and then looked at the departures board and read “Gate 60” and just started walking to the gate. We went through several security checks, including the hand luggage scanner and we were a bit mystified as we tried to ram our big rucksacks through the small hole. We kept walking and walking, down a lot of moving walkways until finally we reached our gate. Then we were like “but wait, where is the bag drop?”
We’d missed it! Thank goodness we arrived at the airport mega early. We had to go backwards through all the security checks, including my personal favourite: the bag scanner where the bloke who was meant to be checking the X-rays didn’t even look up from his crossword… We were halted at one point and our passports were confiscated – that’s a good way to make your blood go cold. We were issued through to the bag check where the bewildered check in assistant said “but I can’t check you in if you don’t have your passports!” We were then escorted back through to find the passport man who had gone on his lunch break and left our passports with his buddy. Jesus. Anyway. We made it to Hong King exhausted but in one piece some how.
We got a train out of the airport (very big and very clean) and then a taxi to Tom’s godfather James’ flat. Unfortunately he was working whilst we stayed in Hong Kong so we didn’t see him, but it was so lovely to have a place of our own, with a bit of space and a comfy bed! We had a pizza (very Chinese) and went to bed.
We packed loads into our first day. We started off by getting the subway Mong Kok to the Ladies market. I’m not sure why it’s called the ladies market, as I’d describe it as unisex, but it was basically a heaven of waving lucky cats (I may have bought a few) clothes, phone cases, toys, bags: Everything under the sun for a haggle. Tom is really good at haggling. I’m too soft and feel guilty going really low haha! We came out with some goodies and then headed for some lunch.
We then hopped back on the subway and went to Shat In. I’m not making these names up. We literally went to Mong Kok and Shat In! Hahaha!!!
Shat In is home to the 10,000 Buddhas. We walked up loads of steps. There were loads of dogs barking, and then something moving caught my eye and I looked up to see a huge monkey jumping across the rooftops. It was such a surprise, we had no idea there are monkeys in Hong Kong. They were different from the Balinese monkeys, they had no fur on their faces, which made them seem more human. A worker was wandering up and down the steps throwing oranges and apples to the monkeys.
We kept walking until gold Buddhas started to line the steps. There were so many! Then we made it to the top of the hill where there was a beautiful monastery. Inside there were thousands of tiny Buddhas lining the walls. Unfortunately no photos were allowed so I can’t show you. There was also an enormous drum that had a sign on it saying “do not hit” and I had to fight against every fibre of my being to not give it a good smack in the silent room!!
Unfortunately it was very nearly 5pm so we had to leave before the gates closed. It was a fleeting visit, but I’m so glad we went. It amazed me how different it felt from the city, it was very leafy and the air felt calm and cool. Such a peaceful place.
We then headed back down to the subway and to the night market. The night market was pretty cool, but a more seedy version of the ladies market. There were lots of shouty people pulling on our clothes and trying to drag us into their restaurants, shouting “WE HAVE DUCK. HOW MANY YOU WANT!!” In our ears. I also find it very disturbing to see little old ladies running sex stalls. There was a cool street where you could have your fortune read. I’m always fascinated by fortune tellers, but it was quite pricey so I didn’t bother. Besides, the palm reader in Whitby told me I’d live a long life, so I’m happy to stick with that!
We had some ominous dumplings and then headed home to bed.
Easter Sunday! We had a bit of a lie in because we were bloody shattered, and didn’t make it out of the flat until 12.30pm. (Whoops)
We got on the bus to Stanley Market. (Another market, ha!) I was amazed again by how the landscape transformed. We were on the coast by the beach. It was very hilly and it felt and looked like the Amalfi coast in Italy. Such a change!
We didn’t buy anything at the market (probably due to the sheer amount of crap we’d bought the previous day) but we enjoyed wandering around and people watching. I was especially fascinated by the people we saw pushing their dogs around in buggies. Hilarious!
At one point we got surrounded by a film crew. We were told we were going to taste some food and we’d be on Chinese television… The first was a mug of hot ginger flavoured Coke which was quite nice. Then Tom was handed some mystery meat. When we asked what it was they said “roast! Roast!” So god knows what it was. He said it was nice. And then came the grand finale. A piece of what looked like liver. We reluctantly asked what it was and the response was “goose blood.” I refused to eat it, but Tom heroically poked it down. The best poker face I’ve ever seen. In true British style, he smiled and said it was delicious until we were out of view of the cameras and he grabbed the water off me muttering “I think I’m gonna be sick.”
Never a dull moment in Hong Kong!
We started the day with a longer tube journey, and then got in the queue for the cable car up to Ngong Ping, home to one of the worlds biggest seated Buddhas. I was flummoxed to find that the queue was two hours long… But it was a bank holiday Monday so we got on with it and played a lot of solitaire on our phones. I may become a professional solitaire player when we get home. I’m good at original, three peaks and spider solitaire now!
The cable car was ace! It was about 25 minutes long, and went over sea to another island then up a huge mountain. It kept reaching little stations where I thought we were at the top, then it would just swing around a corner and keep going until finally the big Buddha came into view. It. Was. Massive!
At the top were loads of shops, and then lots of steps up the huge Buddha. There was a monastery and the biggest incense sticks I’ve ever seen. It was lovely. Lots of people but we still had a great time. Back at the bottom, we headed into Hong Kong and legged it to the waterfront to catch the light show at 8pm. The skyscrapers light up and flash in time to some really naff music. It was pretty cool though.
Disneyland. Need I say more?
On our final day we headed to a place called Tai O, which is a very old fishing village. We got a ferry and then a boat there. When we arrived we walked down winding streets full of stalls selling weird fish skins that were translucent and all forms of fish, including dried fish and shellfish. I was feeling pretty dodgy from the bus journey and there were points where the smells were making me feel very dodgy indeed. I really wanted to hold my nose because it was pongy but didn’t want to appear rude. One stall was selling huge shark skins. I asked Tom if we could buy one and make it into a sleeping bag but he said no.
After a walk we got a boat down the estuary and looked at the buildings built on stilts. They are literally houses with a big platform at the back where the locals fish and then they sell their catch at the front. It was really cool to see somewhere untouched by the British and nice to imagine what Hong Kong was like a few hundred years ago.
In the evening we caught the tram up Victoria Peak to view the city from the top of a hill. It was rammed with people and very smoggy but we still enjoyed seeing the cityscape in day and then night. We decided to treat ourselves to a “nice” meal because we had some Hong Kong dollars to spend. The meal was grim. I haven’t eaten anything enjoyable in Hong Kong, but never mind.
Things that have surprised me:
– Most things are translated into English so it was quite easy to manage. I was even handed a free English newspaper at one of the train stations. In Disneyland the songs were all English which made me feel a bit sorry for the Chinese children. I hadn’t realised that Hong Kong was under British rule for many years.
– queues everywhere. This was to be expected in Disneyland, but I wasn’t quite prepared for fully grown adults to elbow me out of the way!
– we found that Tom was fascinating to the local children. It was probably the beard, but we regularly got on the subway and had a journey where Tom was ogled at for twenty minutes. Hehe!
– people pushing their dogs around in buggies.
– on Sunday we saw loads and loads of women sat around the central station on cardboard having picnics. They were on their phones, well dressed etc so we knew they weren’t homeless. We did a Google search and apparently they are nannies and home workers etc usually from the Philippines and Indonesia who meet up on their day off to chat with their mates.