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Monday, 22 November 2010

Hong Kong 香港

I arrived at Hong Kong Airport at 8 pm and had a ridiculous time trying to get to my hostel in Ngong Ping. I had pulled all the “how to get here by bus/ cable car” info off the website but what they failed to mention was that the buses and cable cars stop running at 6 pm (?!) and that there are no night buses (??!!) so I had to hunt down a taxi. I wasn’t even sure if I had enough cash on me or if my card would work abroad, but I figured:
  1. Right now I am miles away from my hostel with possibly not enough money to pay for a taxi.
  2.  If I get a taxi to the hostel, then I will be at my hostel with possibly not enough money to pay for a taxi.
  3. Therefore, I will have made a net gain. If any problems arise, well, I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
I was quite pleased with this bit of logical reasoning and luckily I did have enough Hong Kong $ to pay and tip the driver, who gave me directions of how to walk up a winding little path up the hill and through the woods to my hostel. It was incredibly creepy and when I arrived I found that that no-one else was staying there, so I had a six bed room all to myself.

The only reason I really booked it was because the location was perfect for exploring all the Buddhist stuff I wanted to see- it was right on the doorstep, as this map illustrates! I also found a HK$100 bill lying on the path on the way to the hostel (it’s not as much as it sounds) so in a way, I stayed there for free (it was very cheap) :p

So, on the morning of the 18th November I got up around 9, did my exercises, took a shower (no towels), didn’t check my email (no wifi), didn’t do my laundry (no washing machines) and didn’t have breakfast (no shop or cafe). The view from the balcony was great, though.

I visited the Big Buddha, the Po Lin Monastery, the Wisdom Path, the Native Tree Walk and trekked over the hills for about an hour, right around the Lo Han Temple and under the path of the cable car.

I had lunch in Ngong Ping village, chicken noodles again. You can’t go wrong with chicken noodles, although I avoided that funky-looking egg.

I bought my nan this cute silk purse (she loves pink) and ended up taking loads of photos of flowers. There were so many exotic-looking ones, all tended by Chinese ladies in big straw hats.

Yes, I had to go to Starbucks to use their wifi. It was nice to have a skinny latte with dairy milk mind, everyone here drinks soya

I was shocked to find that everything in Ngong Ping shuts down at the dot of 6 pm so I was basically stranded on the island in an empty hostel with what turned out to be plenty of money but not a single restaurant or supermarket to spend it in. I dug around in my suitcase and used the hostel kitchen to produce three cups of instant black coffee and two cups of green tea for dinner, rounded off with an aspirin as all that crappy chemical-laden coffee powder gave me a headache :p Now I feel like a real model :p

I sat and drank it all on the balcony overlooking the mountains and read Valley of the Dolls. I seem to have brought all my teenage favourites with me, for some reason: Valley of the Dolls, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby.

A massive praying mantis type bug, only orange, appeared at one point. I tried to photograph him next to my hand to give an idea of size but he got scared and ran off. He was probably about 6” long :0

The next day I decided I’d seen everything I wanted to see in Ngong Ping so I checked out of China’s answer to the Bates Motel a day early, hopped on the cable car to Tung Chung then got the MTR to L’hotel Nina. So glad I took the cable car to Tung Chung instead of the bus, the views were breathtaking!

You can just see the Big Buddha in the distance, on the left

Here’s my room from my first night in L’hotel Nina (i.e. in a proper hotel and not at the hostel time forgot). It would have been really fun to share it with someone because there’s a floor to ceiling glass wall between the bed and the freestanding bath. If Liam was here I could have waved at him in bed while I took a bubble bath (but drawn the curtains while I shaved my pits. Girlishly frolicking in the bubbles while your lover watches is one thing, but...).

As with my room in KL, the view of the city from way up here is fantastic.

 A lil self-portrait for your delectation

Once I’d had my hot bubble bath and a spot of room service the neon lights were calling me into Hong Kong to go and explore the crazy night-time street markets!

They sell some crazy food, a lot of which I couldn’t identify at all. The ducks looked pretty good, although I’m not sure I could eat a duck that was looking back at me the whole time!

I really felt like I was in “proper” China. Everything written in Chinese (apart from my sweeties), the amazing smells of food and incense and who-knows-what coming from all sides, the hustle and bustle and pavements crammed with local foods. When I got back to my room the first thing I saw this view of the skyscrapers over the river. And I thought, fucking hell, I have the best job in the world!