So… my first day in Hong Kong I spent… in Holland. My plane was supposed to leave at 9.45pm Sunday evening, but it was extremely delayed. Eventually we only left on Monday morning at 11.30am. I got a room in a crappy hotel near the airport and free dinner – dining hall style. I swear, they served the exact same overcooked veggies, blueberry yogurt and tiny ice cups. Oh and I shouldn’t forget the fish that isn’t really chewable but you just have to put in your mouth until it sort of dissolves and falls apart. Evil KLM is evil.
Anyway, in the plane we had individual TV screens to watch films, which I thought was quite exciting :). I watched ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’, ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 4’. People had continuously been telling me ‘Midnight in Paris’ is good and they were right! It is truly a tribute to one of the prettiest cities in the world (can Hong Kong top it?). I recommend. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 4’ was crap, obviously.
I also slept for a few hours in the plane after which I woke up to the most beautiful thing ever: the view from my window showing me snowy mountains, looking like creased pieces of paper. Apparently we were flying over an area adjacent to the Himalayas. It was GORGEOUS.
After we’d landed I took the train and then the taxi to my room. I had to pick up the key from somewhere else first and then walk up the bloody steepest road I’d ever seen in my life, dragging my 45 pound suitcase on behind me. Then it turned out the guy who gave me the key had given me the wrong directions so I was walking up the road and down the road and up and down and up and down until I FINALLY got to the flat, all sweaty. Lovely. The flat fits 6 people in total, 2 per room. There’s also a living room, a kitchen and a (DISGUSTING!) bathroom. From the living room we have an overwhelming view of Pok Fu Lam Cemetery, built on a hill. I’ve decided I’m just going to call it Mount of Doom.
The rest of the day I spent
buying things for my room sight-seeing. I sat by Victoria Harbour for a while. There was a man fishing and people stopped to talk to him once in a while; it was very nice and peaceful there ;).
The city is amazing: the buildings are so high that I often had to keep myself from toppling over when looking at them. I went to visit the Man Motemple in the city centre. It’s very impressive! It is continuously filled with smoke because people are lighting incense in it all the time. In fact, what I thought to be fancy lampshades turned out to be huge spiral-shaped incense sticks that are constantly burning. Going into the temple is thus an instant asthmatic experience. The temple honours Man and Mo, the gods of literature and war, respectively. (interesting combination, I know) Taking pictures inside the temple was not allowed, so I didn’t. However, there were a couple of (Western) tourists taking pictures while standing next to people praying. Oh Westerners, why you so totally disrespectful?
On Statue Square an interesting combination of modern and colonial architecture can be seen. I sat down on the terrace built on the square when a man approached me to participate in a research on medical insurance. I don’t think he could understand a word of what I was saying; the stuff he was writing down consisted of a very free version of the Latin alphabet with some Chinese character influences. 😛 The lower building on the picture above is the Legislation Council Building, which is still in use. Around the square there are many posh stores, like Chanel and Cartier. Nearby the square is the 368-meter-high Bank of China Tower. According to some Feng Shui experts the tower exerts negative influence on the buildings around it, lol. Another famous tower near the square is HSBC tower, which used to be the most expensive building in the world in 1985. Underneath it, I saw an Occupy camp had been set up, but, like in the other Occupy camps I’ve seen so far, it seemed many people had just set up their tent and then left the venue, since I only spotted two living souls ;).
I rested from my walk through town in Hong Kong Park. It’s a haven of peace and quiet in the middle of the city. I haven’t looked around much there yet, but apparently there is an aviary with many exotic birds and a Museum of Teaware.
The amount of English spoken here is quite disappointing so far: people hardly speak it and if they do it is often with such a heavy accent that it just sounds Chinese. At the airport I often heard Chinese people say my name, so I’m thinking it might be slang for something like ‘Crap, our flight’s delayed!’
I have been stuck all day in Asian bureaucratic madness while trying to arrange my course registration. I had a briefing at noon by a very frustrated-looking woman who seemed to get mad already at just the thought of people not filling in one of the dozens of online registration forms. Oh dear…
TTFN. (ta ta for now)