HK (Part 2)
05/05/2010 - 19/05/2010 30 °C
still here in HK....
And i thought it 'rained' in England!! Well, having just got the ferry over to Kowloon we wondered whether they ever stopped it (the ferry service) on account of the weather; the sea was rough n choppy despite it being less than a 5 min journey over the water.
The rain was the big splashy kind that enjoyed grouping up with its team mates to get you soaking wet - I was wearing shorts and a v-neck top so occasionally got splashed down the back too! and we had a brolly! But despite, the salesman saying this was in-destructible in a typhoon, we wondered what use that would be when Jon and I had been blown away already!!
Temple Street, Jade Market and Mong Kok
Temple St is the place to go in Kowloon for souvenir stuff, and as you stroll along waiting to be accosted by the store sellers, you feel a sense of "been here, done that"?! Incidentally, the weird thing is about HK, not one does end up shouting at you to buy their products, and i still haven't worked out why not. Could it be because they know they don't have any shoes in my size (size 6 = size 40 in HK, despite trying to convince me a 39 will fit) ... or they just know we'll show interest if we want something?!
The Jade Market, just at the end of Temple Street is fascinating, rows and rows of stalls selling the same items - jewelry, pearls, jade, other stones. necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings etc so out came my bargaining skills, not used since the Silk Market in Beijing!
(Jono here now) obviously we did not go to the Jade Market only once, yep thats right twice: I found myself bargaining for bracelets, earrings, and necklaces!! I even considered buying one for myself after all that hard work :-)
Mong Kok is situated north of Temple Street and is teaming with people - this is what i imagined china would be like at every turn, people shoulder to shoulder and being forced along roads you weren't interested in seeing. Well, it wasn't quite that bad (think Oxford Street padestrianised for xmas shopping girls) but close! In the mix on most street corners were stalls selling animal innards (to use one phrase) so not something we particularly fancied as a snack :s
I know i've mentioned the subway in previous posts, but there is something which i overlooked and now take for granted, as is the way when you get used to how things are done in a country. The subway here has... wait for it ... aircon! A delight from the humidity. Also and possibly more exciting than that - ticket machines are touchscreen, yep, you click on the tube map station you want to go the and then the machine kindly tells you how much money to insert! Oh TfL please please look towards HK for transport inspiration, should you wish me to return to London!!
Lantau Island is sparsely populated, compared to HK Island or Kowloon, but it is a hotspot regarding the Big Buddha and the cable car, not to mention the beaches on the south shore. After catching the ferry, we took a bus to the southern beach (with sand as opposed to shingle shell on HK Island) where we spent the morning enjoying the sun, sea and sand ... then we caught another bus to a sleepy fishing village called Tai O, where they dry their daily catch of fish on a wooden rail outside their metal homes ...
Then we caught another bus to the top of the hill where the Big Buddha sits on a lotus flower (what else?) in meditation.
Of COURSE there are steps leading up to it which you must climb in the hot lunchtime sun, whilst the humidity makes you drenched (with sweat i am sorry to add), gasping for water - lucky us, we were carrying our water bottles. But once you're up top the views are great as they are whilst you ascend towards Buddha (it was his birthday on Friday, but more of that later) and the breeze is lovely and refreshing, enabling you to descend back down to earth and towards ice-cream
Lunch quickly (Japanese noodles) then onto the 45 min cable car ride, back down the hill (i meant mountain) where you could watch people look like ants from above. Many a geographic photo later, after discovering my camera also had a 'multi-click thingy' (i.e. takes a photo every second whilst the button is held down), which i know i will later come to regret when photo editing... (thats now, by the way) I snap away happily to my delight
Now if one Buddha is not enough, you can go and visit ten thousand! Jon and I arrived at the tube stop and followed the directions down the road where they abruptly stopped in front of this HUGE shopping mall. Having a great sense of direction and geographic skill, i deduced, the trail may well heat up again should we go around said shopping mall (just to point out it was a home ware shopping mall; had it been clothes, this could well have been a different blog entry - one more like 'mum, can you lend me a tenner?!'). At the back was a big sign saying "10,000 Buddhas this way" so we knew we were onto a winner!
Along the path we found the beginning of the statues; all different shapes and sizes with unique facial expressions but each gold coloured with red lips and black hair.
Having got to the top of the steps (they are everywhere!) we find the funniest pair - one with an outstretched arm reaching to the sky and another with really long legs holding his gown from splashing in a puddle (no idea why they are out of proportion but funny nonetheless). This is a bemusing place to be, but at the same time, given its position up a hill, has a cool refreshing breeze that makes it all the more serene. A nice place to spend the afternoon.