We’re back in Hong Kong, a city we really love. It’s warm and humid, and the sun occasionally pops out for a peek from behind the clouds. The temperature today is a lovely 25 degrees and there’s a refreshing breeze keeping us cool. We couldn’t be happier right now.
Arrival day is about staying awake long enough for the Salisbury YMCA to get our room ready. We land at 8:30 am but the room isn’t ready until 2PM. After the all-nighter across the Pacific and losing a day over the International Dateline, we felt wrecked. The goal was getting water, food and then wandering up the street to nearby Kowloon Park in order to stay alive until our room was ready. Then we crashed early for the night. Today we had a number of logistical things to accomplish before we get down to enjoying Hong Kong more fully.
We started the morning with two goals:
1) get Starbucks (don’t roll your eyes!) and
2) find breakfast.
The Starbucks we remembered four years ago is gone (ack!) And we spent a couple of hours the morning we arrived looking for another one (we’re not kidding) without luck. It was a bit distressing but we somehow managed to cope with the disappointment. We had a good lead for another Starbucks, at Harbour City. So off we went, jet-lagged and needing caffeine. Harbour City is a two million square-foot colossus of luxury shopping. It’s so large, we got lost. But after consulting several maps along the way, we finally found what we were after.
With Americanos in hand, we headed out of the mall and back into the older part of Kowloon and into the market to find a noodle/congee restaurant. We stopped at the first place we found. It was tiny and packed with a small crowd eating breakfast before work. We squeezed through a small hallway to get in, joining a round table with other diners. We were the only tourists there but the menu had pictures so we managed to order a couple of big bowls of noodle soup with dumplings. It was perfect.
It was so good, we’ve already decided we’ll go back again tomorrow. With food and coffee accomplished, the next big task was to book our travel for the next leg of our tip.
We leave Hong Kong on March 12, and we’ve learned that it’s best to organize the next leg of the journey (into China) early so you can enjoy your time without worrying about the next stage of your trip. So we spent the morning figuring out bus routes and picking up maps and travel information from the Hong Kong Tourism Board then heading back to the hotel to make arrangements for getting to the Hong Kong/Mainland China border crossing.
In 2007, getting a bus to Nanning and on to Hanoi was scary but pretty straightforward. Getting to Yangshuo isn’t going to be so easy. Instead of just catching a bus in Mongkok and heading over the border, it looks like we have to take the Metro to the border and walk over on foot. Then we have to find a bus station in Shenzen, buy two tickets and get a bus to Guilin, and ask to be let off at Yangshuo. Sounds easy, but we don’t read or speak Mandarin. Oh, well. We are reminding ourselves that this is what travel is about; it’s why we do it. We’re learning to let go and accept things as they are, not getting upset or anxious when they aren’t as we want them to be. When Plan A goes down the toilet, you have to be flexible. So it’s good to have a Plan B. Often, Plan B is way more interesting, anyway.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around Hong Kong Island.
We took the ancient Star Ferry across the harbour and… into the future!
For poor Canadians, Hong Kong basically feels like the future. With moving walkways, outdoor street escalators, and Apple products and laser light shows. It’s an amazing place. What we love the most, however is the way old and new live together in harmony in Hong Kong. Many Chinese cities are futuristic, but the development has destroyed and semblance of an authentic past. Hong Kong seems to cherish much of its past, while developing modern flourishes.
There are above ground walkways in every direction in Central. We wrote home about these last time we were here, but it’s worth mentioning again. Pedestrians use these pathways instead of the old, narrow sidewalks on the busy streets below. Transit users get credit on their Octopus Cards (transit passes) if they take the walkways/escalators, instead of taking transit; they just scan their cards at kiosks along the way. The system keeps more people out of traffic, encourages exercise and reduces traffic congestion. Imagine, city planners that actually think about reducing congestion.
We had a late dim sum lunch at a very popular spot at City Hall. Don’t let the name fool you. This is not the centre of civic governance. It’s an historic building in Central overlooking the harbour. It provides municipal services, performing arts venues, and libraries. And, apparently, really great dim sum.
After lunch we walked around, ending the day by taking in the beautiful city skyline at night.