The last stage, Hong Kong, and what a place. I hadn't been keen to come but reliable people told me I'd love it and they weren't wrong. It's not just about the tall buildings, the crowds and the shops. It's certainly a vibrant place, full of people of all races and creeds living and working here plus many, many tourists of all shapes and sizes but you can get away from the crowds so easily, the Tourist Information Office not only has information, given with a smile, but also gives out clear and detailed maps, leaflets, time tables for free. An 'Information' sign where you could find things out, wow, a novel experience after living and travelling in China off the tourist trail. Jayne and I did a tour on the ferry, followed by a beer in an Paddy's Irish bar and an Indian meal. Great.
I then had four days by myself, during which I island hopped to Lantau, Lamma and Cheung Chau all with well-planned coastal and mountain/hill walks, lovely beaches and sweatily hot weather. I watched the neon lights going on over Kowloon and Hong Kong island, went on trams, avoided shops, ascended Victoria Peak on the steeply rising funicular tram, admired the strangely enchanting views of skyscraper buildings, avoided more shops, visited parks that made the hustle and bustle seem far away, sipped chilled latte or Mango fricasse in air-conditioned cafes, avoided even more shops, swam in the sea and slept surprisingly well at night in my 'no room -to -swing -a- mouse' box/room in a guest house the LP describes as having 'big, clean rooms'. I don't know what a small room looks like! In this one my chin was on the wash basin as I went to the loo, having a shower involved contorsions or showering while on the loo and lifting my bag from the space by the bed where it was jammed in onto the bed was a physical impssibility. The LP was right about one thing, though - it was clean.
After watching the light show on July 18th, and a 'scare' when I realised I'd be landing in the UK a day earlier than I'd imagined, as my July 19th flight set out just after midnight of the night 18th/19th, I humped my bags to the airport bus stop, got rid of the big one, heavy at 26 kilos, but no charge and settled down to enjoy a Burger King meal to spend my excess dollars. The flight, booked on-line only a few weeks ago for £170 was on time and Tim was ready and waiting to whisk me away back to Grayshott.
I'm now back home, the garden's still great to sit in, the walk to Waggoners Wells is still delightful, the Golf Open on the new cinema contraption Tim calls a TV not so delightful ... Weydon is still there, England is flooding, Beckham's gone to Hollywood, the Spice Girls are re-forming and the new Harry Potter's out. Life goes on, but how long until I get itchy feet? It's been a great year, so many new experiences, so many new places and who knows now what the future holds. Don't let me be a 'when I was in China' bore', but the experience will have changed something in me and I'm so glad I took the VSO opportunity to fulfil a dream.