hong kong (part 4)

Posted in hong kong by moonwire on May 20, 2009

My last day in Hong Kong was spent exploring the South and West side of Hong Kong island with Gareth, from Xi’an. The idea was to go to the Po Tai Islands. Neither of us had researched this very well, but we set off on the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. This is only a 10 minute ride or so. Dirt cheap as well.  When we got there we couldn’t find a ferry to Po Tai, so we asked and we were advised to take the bus to Aberdeen, on the South coast. So, we hopped on a bus. When we got off, there were no bright white ferries, only stinking fishing boats and a few ramshackle ‘canoes’. No, Po Tai was not happening. The boat had left in the morning, so that was that.

Instead we decided to roam around Aberdeen a bit. Well, there wasn’t all that much to do or see but we got some lunch there, hopped back on a bus, saw a cemetary, got out to make some art. Well, no art was made (maybe Gareth did, I did not), but it was cool to see the rows of graves against the mountains. A stark contrast with the high rise apartment buildings in which most people seem to live. The dead get the space with the view while a ton of people live in these often really dodgy looking high rises (with laundry drying from the windows.)

We decided to walk all the way back to Central . It was a nice walk, but the humidity was killing us. A had a few sips of Gareth’s lager; tasted good! It’s kind of weird, because I’m not really a beer drinker but I sure love my red wine. I haven’t had any since I left Amsterdam. In Hong Kong it was easily available from every 711 corner shop, but I guess it was the heat that didn’t make me want it. Another thing I haven’t had  in a few days is coffee.  There are lots of Starbucks outlets, and I think a local one called Pacific. Besides the fact that I think 15 USD is ridiculous for a coffee and a sandwich (I can eat all meals for that price) I also haven’t really felt like drinking coffee. I love those unsweetened cold green tea drinks for breakfast.

Apparently the food in Hong Kong is really great, but truthfully, what I enjoyed most there was the Indian curry with naan. I’ve mentioned this before, but the Cantonese kitchen seems to be very heavy on (mystery) meat and I was disappointed with the lack of veggies there.

All in all, I really enjoyed Hong Kong. The first day I was really overwhelmed with exhaustion, the heat and the humidity, and though the heat and humidity never went away. I slept really well. I can definitely recommend the Cosmic Guest House in the Mirador Mansion. At first it was a bit weird not having a window in my room, but looking back that was a blessing. No noise, no humid and smoggy air coming in. The A/C was great and you can’t beat the location. Not that I thought Tsim Sha Tsui was so uber superawesome, but I did like the hustle and bustle of the place. Plus it was so conveniently located and easy to get to and from.

I’m  writing this from Singapore Changi airport now. I had a great veggie lunch: noodles with veggies in broth. I hope my system is still used to veggies.

Waiting for my flight to Denpasar (Bali).

p.s. I’m in Legian (Bali) right now. My hotel is great. 5 minutes from the beach. However, the interweb is fickle here and I need to constantly buy vouchers, which is fine, but it slows me down. I may not blog everyday, but I’ll keep in touch through twitter and when I have the opportunity and a good signal, I’ll upload as I go.

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hong kong (part 3)

Posted in hong kong by moonwire on May 18, 2009

After two days of urban madness, I decided to go for some Zen and visit the Monastery of 10,000 Buddhas in Sha Tin in the New Territories. It was only about a 20 minute train ride North from TST. I don’t know how to properly describe it, but walking up there was fascinating… there must have been 10,000 steep steps as well and yes, indeed, the path was lined with buddha statues on both sides. Really impressive.

The path leading up to the monastery.

Even better… there were wild monkeys. Though this one screamed at me after I took his picture.

My first thought: luckily I got my rabies shots…

Even though it was very hot and humid (I think that will be a constant during this trip, with the exception of  Australia) it was quite a nice walk up. It wasn’t very busy so for large parts of the walk, I didn’t see or hear anybody. Just the monkeys, the birds and the crickets. Really quite lovely.

Right next to the monastery was another smaller temple with a lot of stairs and smaller buildings with offerings for the deceased. This wasn’t all that interesting, after I had seen a few, I had seen them all, but they did have a lovely turtle basin. I watched them engaging in all kinds of lewd acts for a while.

Some very naughty turtles.

A few more shots from around the monastery. (I do realise the mix of colour and black and white is a bit odd… but hey, even though I’d love to shoot black and white only, some things just translate better in colour.)

After I got back I took a short nap, I decided to give the cantonese mystery meat a miss and I went to Chungking to pick up some Indian food. Oh my, did that ever taste good. Very spicy curry with potatoes and green peas and garlic/coriander naan. Once again, super cheap. I paid 2.50 USD for my dinner. You really can do Hong Kong on the cheap. Just don’t drink (haven’t had the desire here) and eat in pokey little restaurants or food stalls on the street.

After dinner, I took my FE2 loaded with provia 400 (rated at 1600) into the streets for some obligatory Hong Kong night shots. I had fun shooting though. I think it’s coming back. Then I chilled out with a book at Kowloon Park for a few hours til it started to rain.

A very good day.

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hong kong (part 2)

Posted in hong kong by moonwire on May 17, 2009

After a ridiculously long night of sleep (woke up at 10 am), I decided to head out to Hong Kong island. I took the subway from TST where I’m staying to Tin Hau and walked my way back through Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Central, all the way to Sheung Wan. It was a pretty rainy day, which on the one hand was a blessing, cause the rain felt so nice on my skin, yet it didn’t really cool off, but it forced my already naturally wavy hair into an afro. Hot.

Kids playing soccer in rainy Victoria Park.

It was a bit overwhelming, so many people everywhere. I decided to have lunch in a small alley off Stanley street after I bought some film. I got a big bowl of soup with thin egg noodles and won ton. God knows what was in there. But it was tasty. And my meal only cost me about 2 USD.

Little alley noodle place where I had my mystery soup.

After this adventure, I went back to my hotel to take yet another shower. I no longer bother with switching my t-shirt twice a day as it does not matter. You walk for 5 minutes in this sweltering heat and you’re already sweating like a pig again.  I’m drinking at least 3 liters of water a day and I don’t find myself running to the bathroom very often. I’ve also found myself craving salty food at night. The first night I had a bag of prawn crackers with the added bonus of calcium.  Last night I had some sort of potato chips with black pepper. I never eat those kinds of things before going to bed. Mmmmm tasty.

Medicin shop in a little alley in Central.

Anyways, after a quick pit stop, I walked up Nathan Road to Mong Kok. Checked out the night market at Temple street. Once again, so many people. Seriously crazy busy. It was very hard to move. After walking around there for a bit, I had such a bad head ache and decided to go back to the hotel with a bottle of water and potato chips and just chill out in my little mirador cabin. Aaah, the life…

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hong kong (part 1)

Posted in hong kong by moonwire on May 16, 2009

After a 12 hour flight I finally arrived in Hong Kong on Friday morning. At the airport I had to fill in a health declaration regarding swine flu. They seem to be very concerned about it, with notices everywhere that such and such area gets disinfected every few hours.

Telephone booth at Victoria Harbour.

I took the subway train to Kowloon station, then hopped into a cab to the Mirador Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). Well, there’s 2 (in)famous backpackers places in TST. One of them the Chungking Mansions, just a few steps down the road, the other one the Mirador Mansions, in which the Cosmic Guest House is located. The word ‘mansions’ is definitely pushing it. Yes, it’s a huge building with a lot of different rooms and floors, but just the entrance was a bit intimidating. Hawkers hanging around asking if you need ‘copy watch’ or ‘copy hand bag’, lots of little stores the size of a post stamp to sell you cheap shit and food. (Lots of Indian food at the Chungking Mansions, will definitely have to check that out, more about the food here, later.)

I checked into the hotel and was shown to my room. It’s in a quiet corner of the 14th floor. There’s laundry drying in the hallways of the building which makes me believe people are actually living here, which seems impossible as a lot of these rooms/businesses don’t even have windows.

My room does not have a window, either.  I feel like I’m in a cabin on a boat. It is very small. There’s a bed and a nightstand. That’s all the room there is. Then there’s a small stall with the toilet and a sink and right next to it, in a separate stall there’s the shower, which is surprisingly really good. It’s got a rain shower head and buttons to make the water come out from the side of the wall, too. At first it felt a little claustrophic because I was exhausted and it was really hot and stuffy in the room.  Then I turned on the A/C and chilled out and now I quite like it (for what it is).

After I took my shower, I wandered around TST. I looked for a tiny little restaurant to have lunch. Well, let me tell you… Hong Kong is not a vegetarian’s Mecca. Very little meatless choices. Also, the restaurant I went to was tiny tiny and they did not have an English menu (most of them do, though) so I just pointed at a picture of something that didn’t look like a pig’s lungs or something else distasteful and that’s what they served me. A bowl of miso like veggie soup with a plate of those thin egg noodles and something brown that I believe was beef. There was something really fatty on the plate, too. God knows what it was. Anyways, my lunch tasted really good and you can’t beat the price: I paid less than 4 USD for it.

Shops in Tsim Sha Tsui

After a short nap,  I explored the area some more and spent the evening at the harbour where at least it was breezy. We have this kind of heat (30C) and high humidity in Toronto in the summer as well, but coupled with so many people and me not knowing where I was going was a little overwhelming. Cooling off at the harbour was nice. Watched part of the light show as well. Such a tourist…

View from the Harbour looking out on Hong Kong Island.

To be continued…

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