Aug 12, 2006

Smog & Sun in Hong Kong

Hey all,

We've been in Hong Kong for the past three days - and it's been virtually impossible to find five minutes to be alone with the internet. We're staying with my uncle Jan and aunt Eliza, and they use their internet regularly - I think even now they're waiting to get on this computer so I will have to be brief!

Another reason we haven't been near the computer much is that Jan has kept us up and running virtually since touchdown. ;) Hong Kong is a bustling metropolis, but Jan has been equally keen to show us the 'country' side of the city. Over 40% of Hong Kong Island is still 'country park' - set up by the British ruling officials back in the day because they liked to go for long walks in the wild. Jan likes this side of Hong Kong better - yesterday he even took us up through Kowloon and the New Territories on the mainland to the border area with China. We stood on a seldom-used helipad and looked out over Shau Tok Kok, a skyscraper-ful city at least twice the size of Brisbane, and only 25 years old. The whole of southern China is a massive industrial machine, churning out cities as fast as it churns out cheap goods for overseas sale.

Speaking of which, on Thursday night we went to the Temple Street and Ladies' Markets on Kowloon - and my goodness, was there some cheap goods there. Imagine an Australian market, with similar 'junk' (as my Dad and Jan both call it) at similar prices - except here the prices are Hong Kong dollars! Cut to me walking around marvelling at the rip-off Swatch watches for about $4 Australian, or the handbags for $6. I finally found the cheap-arse shopper's paradise! We didn't buy much - well, I didn't buy much because I had very sensibly given our money to Greg to guard carefully. Every time I looked longingly at something, Greg would remind me that I would have to lug it around the world for the next five months. Sobering advice, indeed. But I've been told that in Beijing, all the same stuff is available even CHEAPER, so God help me once we hit the Chinese capital.

Hong Kong truly is a sensory overload - Thursday here was so smoggy, you could barely see 20 metres in front of you, particularly when we took the ferry across to the small island of Cheung Chau. Air conditioners are a common sight - and after these past couple of muggy days, I can see why. The pollution is so thick sometimes you can feel it soaking into your skin. Neon lights are bright and overwhelming at night in the party districts of central Hong Kong, like Lan Kwai Fong. Walking through an electronics centre to buy an SD memory card was like walking through a nerdy Wonderland - all flashing sounds and buzzing lights. The smells are overpowering in some areas - like live fish, crabs, eels & squid all in polystyrene boxes filled with salt water at markets, waiting for you to pick them out and take them home for a dinner fresh from the sea.

I'm truly writing a lot of bollocks here, but I am trying to get it all down before people start looking at me with that "We need to leave now" expression! I hope everyone is well - thank you to those who have commented - I'm afraid I can't email, this blog is about as good as it will get as far as mass communication!


P.S. Line of the trip so far from my cousin Natasha (who's far too cool for me anyway) after news of the UK bomb plot surfaced: "Don't worry, terrorists won't bomb Hong Kong. They keep all their money here". Funny, but also apparently true. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Not waffle, very entertaining. News from home: Thea's taken a job with River 94.9 and is off. I've got a cold - just heard my report on B105 - sound like a perky bullfrog.