So we spent 7 or so days in Hong Kong. And I can’t deny… we achieved relatively little in terms of sight seeing..
But the truth is we have been travelling for over a month now.. and getting up every day to see another temple or another generic tourist spot is loosing it’s gleam for us I suppose.. We’ve settled more into life in Asia now. We’re allowing ourselves more sleep-ins. And more days lazing about in our accomodation, doing nothing in particular, but, just enjoying being on holiday and having no work to do, and no responsibilities to tend to..
And after 3 weeks in Taiwan of non-stop movement… We’ve both agreed that it’s nice to be slowing down a little… or actually… quite a lot.
So in Hong Kong… we pretty much visited museums for entire days. Made lots of trips to the supermarket to try exotic fruits and foreign foods. We caught a bus up ‘The Peak’ a couple of times to watch the sun set and enjoy the view. Visited a few of Hong Kong’s popular street markets.. And, I guess we just spent a lot of time dawdling around the city streets… it can take a lot of time to get ‘from A to B’ when you don’t know a city well; when you don’t speak the native language, you don’t know where exactly your going and you don’t know which forms of public transport will be available to you at any particular given time..
Actually, I suppose we spend a fair amount of time lost and looking for directions… We are backpackers, so getting in a taxi every time me need to get somewhere is simply not an option within the budget.
So we struggle with buses instead.. Which apparently are a method of public transport which no government has yet mastered .. and bus timetables which are unpredictable and inaccurate and follow over complicated routes seem to be an international phenomenon.. (although actually… Taiwan… pretty much had public transport down to a fine art.. it was probably more our inability to read Taiwanese that impeded us there..)
The subways on the other hand, so far have been very manageable for us and have created very few dilemmas in our travels! But they of course, quite conversely to buses, have very specific, over simplified routes which usually won’t take us far enough off the beaten track.. and certainly won’t take us between cities.
So combinations of the two are often what we require. And what we battle with.
It’s all part of the experience though! This is not a complaint.
Oh! Also in Hong Kong I spent a whole day and a half lying in bed… in our tiny room.. with all of the lights out, in silence.. fighting migraines. Which was pretty miserable, and sucked up quite a bit of time.
But I should give credit to those sights which we did see in Hong Kong, because although there may not have been many.. there were some of really good ones.
SO, here is a list of the sights we saw:
1. The history museum – This place was beautifully laid out, legitimately interesting and big enough in size that it took me 2 attempts to properly get through. It displayed the history of Hong Kong in terms of environmental and anthropological change, and it included stories from before the first settlers, to the development of trade with the West.. Which then lead in to the opium wars, and was followed by Japanese take over, and eventually ended with the return to China and modern day commerce.
It was an extremely comprehensive overview of the history of Hong Kong. And a very interesting one too.
I would definately Recommend this museum to any traveler whose interested in the city. BUT in saying this…it was only my second favourite of all.
2. The space museum – This one was good as well… But it was most interesting in that it provided a unique perspective on space/space travel which differed to all of the American based observatories I’ve been through. I mean, I didn’t realise until I’d seen this place that everything else I’ve learnt about space has been majorly biased towards selling me the success story of America.
Instead of reading about “the race for space” (which most of Asia was largely uninvolved in), it was refreshing to learn about the applications of ancient Chinese astrology, what modern beliefs are in regards to what is out there, and how the Eastern world thinks we will interact with the rest of the solar system in the future.
And we also watched a really relaxing 3D movie in a dome theater here about people and their relationships with flight. How we initially took inspiration from nature, and then turned the idea of flying into something that our species could master too. It covered everything from the first decorative kites to hot air balloons to aeroplanes. And it explored the change in the human mind set as we turned our attention from recreational challenge to developing weapons of war.
So it was pretty cool.
3. The science museum – Admittedly this one was actually directed at a far younger demographic than the one we fit into… but, we went and spent an hour or two playing with science toys anyway…
4. The art gallery – OK This one, was my favourite of them all.
The installations at the art gallery during my visit were presented through a wonderful mixture of mediums. There were short films, traditional ink paintings, more modern oil paintings and bamboo cravings.
My favourite exhibition though, was a film based installation by a lady who spent days walking around various Asian cities recording the paths of 9 or 10 ‘city walkers’..
It was so deeply fascinating to stop and follow the lives of these people for just a short while. And these people are those who are usually passed by in a crowd. Those who are often only given attention for a fleeting moment or who are not noticed at all..
They have no destination. They have no ‘home’. They are avoided by most people they pass. Because they are odd.. They don’t fit like the rest. And they’re excluded for that reason..
And we all know they exist and we all know it happens… but. To have it put before the public so blatantly. To have these wanderers as the focus for a change… Was brilliant. It was a chance to pay attention.
And so I did.
A couple of them seemed simply to be too old to be of use to society any more.. and so they were left to hobble slowly through crowded spaces, doing little other than get in the way of everyone around them. And the crowds would push by their frail remains without even a fleeting consideration.
One man just gave up and lay down in the middle of a busy street.. it was impossible to tell of course whether it was a cry for help and attention, whether it was a drunken game or whether it was a form if protest from a man forced to roam in a world he was not an accepted part of… but the result, regardless, was that 2 police officers approached him, dragged him onto the footpath, slapped him about, and then left him.. And the film’s were all silent, so I couldn’t tell what words had been exchanged. But what I thought I saw.. was a man, who had to put himself in dangers way just to be seen. Just to receive human contact.. It was desperation for something that most of us receive freely. And for his desperate attempt.. he was publicly punished. and tossed aside again.
And in another film.. which was a little different.. I followed a cow.. a cow lost in the middle of a city. Dragging it’s hooves through thin concrete corridors, tearing open trash bags to find food scraps. Wandering a terrain that used to be green and open and alive. But was now, foreign, derelict and dirty..
And it struck me as incredible that the similarity that all of these souls shared.. was that they were all misplaced in time. Lost in an artifical world that makes little room for non-conformists or for those who cannot keep up.. There was nothing wrong with any of them at first glance… they were just.. in the way.
5. The Peak – This is basically a high hill which you can catch a bus or a cable car up for a good view out over the city. We chose the bus.. because it’s cheaper than the cable car (which is priced for tourists). And the view from the top is actually pretty spectacular. Hong Kong is such a crazy city to look at from a distance.. It’s ALL skyscrapers, right up to the water front. All squeezed into a tiny, island space. And when your outside of the heat and dirt and pushy bustle of it all… that’s when it’s nice to look at. So we went up here twice to admire the view and to soak up the relative quiet.
6. Ngong Ping – This is a little village in an island of its own where the “Big Buddha” sits. And you can climb the steps to his perch and walk around him and enjoy a pretty good view out over the island, which is quite remote.. so it’s genuinely nice to look at. There are actually a bunch of walking tracks about the place as well, and a couple of really gorgeous temples to see. So we spent a day here, in the pouring rain, enjoying nature and hiding beneath temple awnings.
Oh! And we took a gondola to get to the Island in the first place. Which was really nice – it took us over gorgeous bushy hills and waterfalls, and ran right alongside the airport. So we could watch all of the aeroplanes taxiing and taking off as we glided up the hill to Ngong Ping only a short distance from them (there is a cheaper bus option too but we would have missed out on all of the views and half of the experience if we had have taken that route). It was really cool.
7. The Hong Kong markets – These markets are pretty repetitive, like most of the markets we’ve come across so far in our Asian journey… but it doesn’t mean this they’re no good.
In Hong Kong we strolled through the “ladies market” – filled with bracelets, cards, fridge magnets, tea sets and handbags. The “flower market” – which was a whole street of fresh flower vendors. And the “fish market” – which isn’t what you think! It was living fish. So here, there were a few stores selling a huge variety of goldfish and turtles for peoples aquariums! And of course, all of the weeds, ornaments and tanks to go with them.
And as you would expect..there’s always food too.. So dawdling through the markets and picking at all kinds of bits and pieces, was and pretty good way to waste a day.
8. The Hong Kong skyline along the “Avenue of Stars” – The Avenue of Starts is just a good spot to look out to the Hong Kong skyline from. And it’s a waterfront area, which always makes everything feel a little more beautiful for some reason.. So we visited this spot a few times to watch the rainbow- coloured city lights reflecting off the waters surface at night time, and to watch the old Chinese “junks” floating across the bay during the day.
It’s a peaceful place, in an otherwise loud and busy city.
And that… was about it….
After all of that, we were off to Macau.