Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Hong Kong part 2

It is still day 1 in Hong Kong and I am equipped with the Lonely Planet Hong Kong on my iPad and a free street map I was given at the airport and try to work my way through the city. The goals are to see and experience as much as possible in five days and not to get lost. Finding the right way is to my surprise not that difficult. There's no need of a GPS. Since my phone doesn't work here with my mainland Chinese SIM card, I can't use the GPS function anyway. 
Hong Kong means Fragrant Harbour or Incense Harbour and its official name is Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. As a westerner if you happen to talk to some brainwashed mainland Chinese about Hong Kong, don't try to tell them or argue that Hong Kong is a different country and has nothing or very little to do with China. They won't believe you and will try to convince you that it is a part of China, something like a province by the sea. I had a conversation about it with one of my friends who has a university degree and is quite informed about the outside world, but it was useless to say that Hong Kong is a different country and basically everything is different. For a start you need a visa to get into the country and you have to go through emigration when entering or exiting the country. Then, there's a different currency (HK Dollars and not Yuan), a different language is spoken (Cantonese and not Mandarin), people speak English (!), nearly everything is written in (correct) English, traditional Chinese characters are used in written language, people drive on the left, there's no censorship, no need to use a VPN to access Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc. There are churches, mosques, temples, etc. Foreign credit cards and bank cards work and are accepted, whereas in China you have to try very hard to find an ATM or a place that accepts your foreign cards. There are foreign exchange places everywhere where you can exchange your money and there's no need to go to a bank to do it, no need to have an appointment with the bank in order to exchange money and there's no limit of 500 USD like in China, simply because you're a foreigner and not Chinese. Local people don't stare at you, don't take videos or photos of you, don't spit on the ground (well, they do, but rarely), don't honk, don't shout, behave friendly and civilised. Even the Lonely Planet guide says that Hong Kongers line up for everything. Attempts to ‘jump the queue’ are frowned upon.
When mainland Chinese travel as a group to Hong Kong, they are usually given a sheet with instructions. Point one is: DO NOT SPIT! 
Cars stop for pedestrians to pass and don't try to run them over, people queue up at the bus stops and on the metro and don't try to push their way through. Pavements are for pedestrians and not for motorbikes and scooters. Here you can get a cold beer and real tasty bread!!!
A brainwashed mainlander won't understand all that, will stick to their opinion and try to prove you wrong. My friends keeps saying that I am still in China and not in a different country. So, avoid this topic as best as you can and when confronted, say that you are travelling in a part of China and they'll be happy.
I was told that once in Hong Kong, you'll be able to tell the difference between a mainlander and a local. Even though I have been here for less than 24 hours, I can say, they were absolutely right. You can tell the difference just by looking at the people. Another thing I notice is the appearance of the locals. I expected to see good looking and well dressed people, but the opposite is the case. I must admit that Guiyangers look and dress better and look healthier.

I step out of the Man Mo Temple where I spent about an hour and my clothes smell sweetly of incense. Directly opposite is this very tall building. It looked ugly at first in this cloudy sky, but then I noticed its design. It differs a lot from the tall communist style buildings in mainland China. Most new and newer buildings in Hong Kong are tall and slim. The question that arises is, doesn't it swing when the wind is strong?

Space is rare in HK, that's why many buildings are tall and slim. There's not much space for nature left, but nature always finds a way.

This is SoHo. SoHo is one of the expat areas in Hong Kong and it is full of bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, small temples and it is very close to the central station. It is a very colourful and very western area and especially in the afternoons you see many foreigners enjoying a pint in the numerous pubs. If you want to read more about Soho click here. (opens in a new window)
As you can see, you need to be fit for a walk around the area. It is quite steep.

One of the curiosities in this area is the 'Central-Mid-Levels-Escalator', which is the longest covered outdoor escalator system in the world. It covers more than 800 metres in distance and elevates over 135 meters. The journey starts somewhere at the bottom of busy SoHo and ends high up in the mountains. Some parts, especially in the central level are very short, but they are longer higher up. I went up all the way to the top. It took me a while to get there, but it wasn't worth it. I expected to enjoy a great view over Hong Kong, but the journey ends behind some tall buildings that block the view.
A side street between two escalator parts.
And up it goes again.

A tiny temple.

Around the tiny temple.

I will eat you!!!
I am tempted to try it...

Police Headquarter in SoHo.
Do you see the bits of escalators?
View from the escalator

Somewhere high up on your ride, you will see the entrance of a beautiful mosque on your left hand side. Jamia Mosque is the oldest mosque in Hong Kong and was built in 1890. Unfortunately I don't have any inside photos. 

These buildings are opposite and part of the mosque complex.

Down to the entrance again.
A garden underneath the mosque.
Some graffiti seen from the escalator.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen Museum

A shabby beauty
Another shabby beauty

vroom vroom

If you would like to read more by me, there are two books available on Amazon. My novel 'At Night', which is the story of a taxi driver and my travelogue 'Theo of Arabia' which is set in the Saudi desert.

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