An eye opener!
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Hong Kong being our first location during our travels has been somewhat of an eye opener - and a massive culture shock!
We left Heathrow on Monday 3rd March 2014, arriving at Hong Kong International Airport 11.5 hrs later (8hrs ahead of UK time). During our plane journey, we had the pleasure of a free bar, which of course we took advantage of - and we had our own individual tv screens - packed with movies, tv series and games. We flew with Cathay Pacific, which was a pleasant airline to fly with - we were waited on hand and foot - an experience in itself and nothing compared to airlines we are used to flying with....I.e. EasyJet and Ryanair!
We took the A22 bus directly from the airport to our hotel, which took about an hour and cost us less than £3 each. Upon arrival to Nathan Road, which is where our hotel was located, was right bang in the middle of the Golden Mile, near the Victoria Harbour. Before we even found our hotel, we were approached by, what can only be described as a posher version of the lucky lucky men you'd find in the Costa Del Sol, or Ibiza and Ayia Napa - trying to sell us fake Cartier jewellery, watches, tailor made suits, massages, nail art etc - and the local triad poaching us to buy drugs from them.
Upon arrival to our hotel, we walked through an arcade full of little shops and food establishments selling local cuisine. We had to take a lift to 13th floor at block B, only to find the guy at reception directing us to block C, which had no hotel name but just 17 floors of rooms. We automatically felt a bit suspicious but the room he escorted us to, was exactly the same as described on the website when we booked it in the UK.
The room itself, well, what I can I say, it was tiny - had a double bed and a separate bathroom, however the shower was located over the toilet, which again, was another experience. If you want to slum it like the poorer population in Hong Kong, then stop in the Reliance Inn. We can't complain though because the room was extremely clean and comfortable, despite it being small enough that you couldn't even walk past each other without breathing in. But this is the type of experience we wanted!
The Golden Mile is full of shop after shop, selling everything you can imagine - the place is full of bright lights, traffic -and people of all races everywhere! Every shop we walked past we were poached by someone, and it even got to the extent were it became annoying! There was a constant, distinctive smell in the air, similar to a sewage - but we soon got used to it. The Golden Mile is ruthless and intimidating because there were gangs after gangs standing all over the place, and if we ever chose to return to Hong Kong, we wouldn't come back to this location but its definitely been an exciting and fun experience and it certainly had its positives and a lot to offer - it's amazing scenery of sky scrapers and mountains, the harbours - and random restaurants where you can select your chosen (live) seafood, from lobsters to crabs, from a tank - and have it killed and cooked to order!
The 'Avenue of the Stars' was full of statues and monuments remembering, and recognising, the lives of some of the most famous Chinese actors known across the world, such as Jackie Chan, Jet Lee and Bruce Lee.
Away from the Golden Mile was a much more pleasant experience, random sand stone statues, the most amazing and creatively designed buildings - and loads of back street food outlets to eat. For breakfast we would eat beef and noodles, and for lunch and dinner, there were plenty of fish, Chinese, Thai and Indian food establishments to eat from.
During one journey to find some food, an Australian man with a guitar started to follow us, singing and playing his instrument - we soon got into conversation with him only to find that he had been living in Northampton before moving to Hong Kong - the funniest thing is, as soon as we told him we were from Corby, he disappeared? Lol.
The people of Hong Kong are rude and impolite - and you can immediately tell, once in conversation with people, whether they are local or not. During our two days in Hong Kong, we met two polite men - one a security guard, and secondly, an Indian drug dealer with three wives!
The most memorable part of our experience here are the views - every step we took or corner we turned, we were wowed by the beauty of the island. I suppose it's like anywhere you go, there's always gonna be positives and negatives - but if anything, we definitely made a right decision visiting Hong Kong - that much so, we plan to return on our way home for a day or two to experience the other side - the quieter and the old cultural side of the island.
We leave Hong Kong (6th March) to fly to paradise in Bali, Indonesia............to be continued.