Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Hong Kong - Contrast Like No Other

The view from my pillow in Mirador Mansions, Tsim Sha Tsui

Wow. What a city. I've not even been here 24 hours yet but have already taken in a lot of this pretty unique place; Special Administrative Region of China, ex-British pied-à-terre in East Asia, home to people from every corner of the planet. After flying in I've already sailed the Star Ferry from Kowloon to HK Island, taken the MTR, ridden the bus and walked in the cold sea wind - the city is at the same time prohibitive to pedestrianism (like in Bangkok, getting to a point 10 metres away requires 200 metres of walking and 50 stairs) and incredibly easy to get around without a car, though the Rolls Royces and Ferraris have plenty of multi-lane bridges and flyovers to speed along.

I get my Chinese visa on Monday and leave for Beijing on Tuesday so have a few days to continue exploring. Coming here from the beauty and peace of Ko Chang (and the relative quiet of Bangkok's backstreets) is certainly a shock and totally the wrong way round to do things! It's so coooold!

The few days back in Bangkok passed quickly thanks to the company of Ben, Caro and Steffi - we (eventually) met on the bus back from the islands and I had a fantastic time with them in the city. Thanks to their friend Simon and his fellow Italian buddy I got to see a new side of the city that I otherwise wouldn't - RCA, or Royal City Avenue, is the place for affluent young Thais to party, a street full of door-to-door nightclubs and bumber-to-bumper Porsches and Mercedes. The Italians had the necessary style (as you'd expect), as did the girls, but Ben and I were lucky to be allowed to join in wearing shorts and flip-flops. This was just as good a way to gain some cultural insight and the difference between this and my earlier Cambodian experience was huge, the result of (relative) peace and years of economic development.

So after arriving on the 18th of November to dismay I left almost a month later to good feelings and happy memories of Bangkok's tourist hub, and its hidden realities. Now in Hong Kong, feeling once again like a real person and not merely a tourist, I'm missing the easy availability of tasty, filling food for 80p and a bed for £3, and the beer which has become a staple part of my diet recently is now out of the question! I said an emotional goodbye to my bike, now adorned with the 20 country flag stickers along the toptube which will be gathering dust in a Bangkok guesthouse for the foreseeable future, and am, truth be told, loving the alternative freedom that only carrying 15kgs of luggage brings.

1 comment:

  1. Loving the photos as usual. Hong Kong looks amazing! Have a great time in Beijing.You may not be carrying all those extra kilograms that you and the bike were hauling but be careful not to drink too much beer as that and the lack of cycling will pile them on!!! Talk to you soon. BS xxxx