I’m sitting here in the Taipei airport waiting for our connecting flight, so I have a few minutes to wrap up our trip to Hong Kong. While we really enjoyed the city, we prefer Fukuoka, and we are ready to get back home.
It was hot and very sunny in Hong Kong yesterday. Since China Airlines confiscated my little bottle of sun screen, I was trying to dodge the sun as best I could most of the day, so I took the subway across the causeway to Kowloon rather than the highly recommended Star Ferry. This ‘other side’ of the city has a totally different feel to it than the island. It’s not nearly as easy to navigate and they have annoying street hawkers. I walked around the same block twice, before I realized the only way to cross the main street was underground.
After finally getting to the piers, I watched the ferries arrive, and then walked along the covered part of the promenade which presented another beautiful view of the city. I made a quick visit to the art museum, and then finished walking down the ‘Avenue of the Stars’ which is China’s equivalent of Hollywood Blvd. It has the names of all their movie stars on it, as well as some statues, and corny Kodak picture spots…the Chinese tourists seem to love it though.
I then headed back into the heart of the city (where I could be in the shade of the high rises) and made my way down Nathan Road (the widest road in Hong Kong), which happens to be lined with, believe it or not, more shops. I made a detour through a crowded park, passed a huge mosque, and then headed farther down Nathan Road toward Temple Market (which I purposely skipped since it’s a night market). It was here that the scenery began changing. There were swarms of people everywhere, lots of worn down buildings with signs in Chinese, and lots of exhaust, horns blowing, and people smoking. The side streets became far more interesting to look down (sometimes scary looking). I started questioning if I really should be venturing out here by myself. Occasionally, I would see some other foreigners and an English sign which helped assure me that I wasn’t lost.
I came upon a popular local temple (Tin Hau) and decided to checked it out (I confess, I like the dizzy feeling I get when I’m in there). I decided to hang out here in their community courtyard for awhile and take a rest, drink some water, watch the elder Chinese men play some chip game at their tables and review my map for the next part of my journey. I finally felt brave enough to venture into the ‘scary’ part of town where I found the dried food vendors, ‘butchers’, and fish markets. It wasn’t far from there that I found the Jade Market (more of a bazaar really), which I really enjoyed browsing through. I’m not sure why some of the vendors don’t post prices – at least on some things -they’d probably get more sales (at least from me).
After walking several more blocks down Nathan street, I found the Ladies Market where I came upon even more stalls selling handbags, baby clothes, jewelry, etc. I was still very hot and thirsty, so I treated myself to a nice cold iced mocha from Starbucks (truly an oasis in the middle of the dessert). The sellers in this particular market were pretty aggressive, so I went through there as quickly as I could…which was not an easy thing to do. This whole section of the city is filled with streets that specialize in one thing. I decided to skip the electronics market street, and instead I headed for the goldfish market street (which ended up being several blocks of pet stores as well as aquariums. That area did not smell very good, so I wasn’t too tempted to buy any cute fury animals. Finally, I arrived upon my favorite two streets…the Flower Market (which smelled so good and I wanted to buy one of everything they were selling), and the Bird Street Market (which was highly entertaining). At times I felt pretty sorry for the birds, but it appears the Chinese love their birds as much as the Japanese love their dogs. Some vendors even had their birds do tricks or talk or sing. It actually was a pleasant way to end to my very interesting day.
I hopped on the closest subway train I could find and beat Robert to the hotel by a mere 15 minutes. We ended up going back to the Soho area for dinner. Oddly enough we noticed large groups of women hanging out on the sidewalks playing cards, talking and just camping out…this went on continuously for at least a mile (I kid you not). We thought they were waiting in line for some tickets to see Brad Pitt or something, but we were informed at dinner that all the ‘domestic helpers’ in the city do this every Sunday as a way of socializing. That’s great, but why on the sidewalk?…why not in the park?
Today we slept in…knowing a full day of traveling was in store for us. We made it home safely with no complications (other than having our cookies and candies X-rayed in Fukuoka when we arrived). Robert almost lost his patience…he tends to get that way when he is tired. So, sorry FIS faculty and staff…the odds of us bringing back any treats from our future travels is now very low.