Tuesday, March 04, 2008

China Part One: Hong Kong

I'm sorry for the lack of posting the last couple of months, but the skiing has been too good to be spending my weekends on the blog. Now that we have a couple of months before hiking/camping season starts I'll try to catch you up on what we've been up to. As many of you know, we spent three weeks in China this past fall. I'm going to break it up into a couple of smaller posts, so I don't kill myself.

The best thing about going to China from Japan is that there is only a 1 hour time difference, so the trip wasn't that bad (5 hour flight from Tokyo). We arrived in Hong Kong at about 10 pm and somehow made it to our hotel around midnight. The next morning we made our way down Nathan Road to Kowloon park were we ate breakfast and sat with the morning crowd of Filipinos and Indonesians. Groups of locals were performing their daily Kung Fu shadow boxing (Tai Chi). We then headed down to the pier to take the famous Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island.

After our ferry ride we hit the Sheung Wan neighborhood which houses dried seafood shops, herbal medicine wholesalers, ginseng root sellers, several markets, and Man Mo Temple.

The cool thing about this temple was all the incense burning lamp shade looking things. The whole room was covered in them.

You could definitely tell the British influence on this city as the traffic was in the left lane. Not to mention the names of many streets and establishments being of English origin. We would find out in time that Hong Kong was definitely different than the rest of China. It still has its own currency.

After having lunch at one of the more well known restaurants in the area (Yung Kee) we took a bus (no, not the cool looking double decker) to the famed Stanley Market...which was a huge flea market with anything from art, clothing-which Amy walked away with, and souvenirs.

After are fill of the market we took another bus to the Aberdeen area. This harbor houses numerous fishing boats which act as a floating community. Some of these fishers spend their whole life on their boat. Inspired by the dedicated fishermen, we took a sampan(traditional boat) out to a floating restaurant and had some seafood. We were a little late getting home, because we got a little lost (we'll just say it was Amy's fault since I never get lost).

The next morning we went down to the Avenue of the Stars (Hong Kong's version of the Walk of Fame). Amy was wanting to take a Tai Chi class, but we didn't find it until the very end. So, we crossed over to the island again and found Victoria Park. Here we got to find this group doing their little Tai Chi dance.

We walked from the park to Tin Han Temple (not very impressive). From there we decided to take an elevator to the top of the Bank of China skyscraper for some views of the city. After eating lunch at a crazy Thai restaurant we headed for the cable car to the top of Victoria Peak.

As you can see, it afforded some nice views of the city. It also had a little shopping mall at the top where Amy tried her hand at fighting Honk Kong's most famous citizen Bruce Lee (she got waxed...sorry).

That night we headed back for the pier/walkway to watch an interesting and unique show. Every night the skyline on Hong Kong Island puts on a laser/light show to some pretty corny music. Our night ended close to our hotel where we traversed through the Temple Street Market. Here you could find pretty much any brand name purse, watch, backpack, or clothing item for a very inexpensive price...all authentic I'm sure.

The next morning we headed to the north part of the city to visit the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. Adjacent to the temple is a stable of fortune tellers. For about $7 Amy had her "fortune" told. He said she would have a bad spine, bad heart, and a bad cough...apparently the more you buy from them the better your fortune gets. He also said she would have 3 sisters...although I'm pretty sure Amy's parents are finished.

That afternoon we took a train past the border into mainland China (even though Hong Kong is officially under Chinese rule there is still border security...Chinese citizens are not allowed to pass freely between the two). After crossing the border we boarded an overnight train (luxury, let me tell you) for Guilin.