I'm writing this from an internet cafe we found in Shen Zhen. Been keeping a travel diary but thought I may as well update my blog while I can, I'm going to do each entry by location. Anyway, Hong Kong was awesome!
We set off from Yihuang on Tues. First time in shorts and T-shirts in a long time and in good spirits. The standard awful bus to Chongren didn't do much to dampen them even though it was worse than usual. Hotter and took a different route meaning we were completely thrown in the air multiple times. Got out feeling like I'[d been put through a blender. Beth and Cat took us to their Muslim restaurant where we heard about a possible Muslim mafia in their town and then watched Harry Potter 8 before bed. Up at 5 in the morning for the only train to Nanchang but upon arrival at station found it wasn't running so caught a more expensive but comfier and faster bus to Nanchang instead. We wandered about in the square in the sun for a bit and found three foreigners who we talked to for a while. Afer a mid-square meeting with them (from Liverpool, N. Ireland and Australia) we watched Skyfall (again, me and Rob downloaded it a while ago) to kill time before our train at 8. After a long day just wanted to sleep but our train was delayed. First for 15 mins then 30 then 45 and we waited in the noisy, crammed waiting room for and hour and 35 minutes before finally getting on the train. Spoke to the Chinese people opposite before settling down for a terrible night's sleep. Been having a lot of trouble getting to sleep recently, often lie awake for a long time and I'm always wie awake very early in the mornings. Well a guy in my compartment snored and I woke up all the way through th night in a bed I didn't even fit in - my feet hung out the end and got walked into by people walking the thin corridor.
First impressions of HK though = very impressed! The MTR and public transport in general is reasonable, regular, easy and clean. After changing into shorts and flip-flops in Mcdonald's toilets (and getting breakfast!) we got the bus to the centre of HK and found our way to the Kowloon clock tower. Sat and admired the skyline for a bit then decided to find somewhere to dump our tons of luggage so we could do something for the day before heading to Sai Kung to meet Jeremy and Callum at 6. Unlike China nowhere to put it so after walking for a long way we ended up just buying a tiny hostel room in Chungking Mansions and filling it with our bags. The girls went shopping and Rob and I went to see the noon day gun which was smaller than expercted and covered up anyway. Wandered in the sun then met the girls to meet Jeremy and Callum. Got buses to meet them - they're fellow PT volunteers and the only pair in HK so haven't met any other vols. They're doing outward bound courses and they're also providing us with free accomodation for our stay. Luckily I was on selection with Callum on Coll but apart from that it was first time for everyone. We all got on brilliantly straight away though and had a perfect 6 to explore HK with. They don't get much time off so had booked the days off to be with us and us being there meant they got to do all the touristey stuff for the first time as well.
Hong Kong was absolutely mental so I'll list off everything we managed to do here...
- Day at Ocean Park (rollercoasters, penguins, giant panda and a sun tan!)
- Saw the Clock Tower
- Starferry across the harbour 3 times at night and day.
- Victoria Peak and the fernucular tram up the side (on way there stopped off to watch HK's 'Miss Beauty Fat 2013' competition. Basically a lot of very large females in skimpy outfits and dancing. Quite mesmerising really)
- The Big Buddha of Lantau island and the Po Lin monastery (love the smell of incense and watched an old monk bash a big bell)
- Walked the promenade
- Watched 'A Symphony of Lights'
- Ngong Ping Cable Car (on way back I was on my own and ended up shaing a car with the Malaysian version of the Addams Family)
- 24 inch pizza challenge. 2 people in 20 minutes. Failed and nearly threw up. Other lads did better than me and Callum even finished his half! All ended up groaning and bloated and in Jeremy's opinion 'it must be what you're first period is like' ...priceless comparison. They were cunning though and made you have cheese then they make a tiny base with tons of cheese which just makes you want to be sick. Ah well, no name on plaque.
- Slept on the roof every night (on my own of course)
- Ladies Market and Temple Street Night Market - bit disappointing really. Very Westernised and not nearly as good as the Muslim Market in Xi'an. Still bought 'I love HK' T-shirts though!
- Spent two nights clubbing - awesome international nightlife.
- Had a generally awesome time. It's amazing what you can fit in if you just sacrifice a bit of sleep. By day we explored the tourist attractions and by night we went clubbing or visited the night market and watched films when we got in.
So that's a quick list of the highlights. We were amazed at how many foreigners there were - bloody everywhere! And we were also shocked at the prices, more like Western prices. The HK boys thought they were reasonable compared to the UK but we stopped sterling conversion a long time ago. Even moe shocking is that they get the same amount of monthly allowance money as us! A bottle of water costs me Y1 (about 10p) and for them it's $8 (About 80p) which is just ridiculous! I'm so screwed when I get back to Britain... On the upside the HK money is really cool, all colourful and decorative. I was also pleased to get a coin that stil had the queen's head on so I hung on to it!
I only got lost once - I planned to get the ferry back from Lantau island but the others weren't feeling it so I ventured it on my own. The bus ddn't turn up though and the weather turned cold (I was only in shorts and t-shirt) so I turned back and followed in the other's tracks back to Jeremy and Callum's. This is nearly a 3 hour journey from where I was by cable car and numerous buses and trains all in Cantonese. I made the entire journey fine until I missed the stop on the last bus and went too far. Some Chinese people helped me though and I rang Callum (didn't even have a phone, wouldn't work in HK) and found I'd gone too far. So I got off and confused a couple of American guys with my tale. One was really nice and gave me $10 to get home and showed me to the bus stop on the other side of the street which shuld have arrived wthint 2 mins. He talked and repeated himself for ages which got irritating but I was grateful. Of course the bus was very late so I squatted in the middle of an empty road for about 20 mins. Luckily the others were serving food when I got in so I ate and showered then hit the pubs and clubs again.
Anyway, had a wicked time and need the next few days in Shen Zhen to relax and recharge. Feels god to be back in China now though - it feels like home. HK is very different, so many foreigners, pretty Westernised and Cantonese does not sound Chinesey at all. We know what's expected in China and we can also be understood in Mandarin so it feels good to be 'home.' I'm also delighted because my passport has lots of stamps in fom entering, leaving and re-entering China again so I feel 'well-travelled'! I hope the rest of our travels continue as they've started!