Mainland China was fascinating and challenging and wonderful and discombobulating all at once. One particularly challenging aspect: I would say that many of the people we encountered in China, especially people working in ticket selling or front desk type jobs, were often unhelpful, and even unfriendly. There just wasn’t much patience on the part of officials at the train and bus stations, or even some hotels, when we tried to use the phrasebook to convey a question or request. There is a definite sense of “come back when you have learned to speak Mandarin.” To be sure, I would actually
One of the things we really wanted to do in Hong Kong was go out for a bang-up Cantonese meal. We tried several weeks ago to get into Lung King Heen, but never moved up beyond third on the waiting list for Monday lunch. Undaunted, we secured a table at Shang Palace, and sailed into a couple of their set lunch menus. Quite the feast (starred are pictured): *Steamed dumplings *Barbecue meat combination *Braised fish maw broth with crab roe and fungus Braised winter melon soup with crab meat and conpoy *Pan-fried scallop filled with shrimp paste and teriyaki sauce Sautéed garoupa fillet and seasonal
Chow Tai Fook, based in Hong Kong and China, is the largest jewellery chain in the world. At a rough* estimate, they make up 97% of all shops in Hong Kong. Bizarre as it may sound for a business where each sale heads into the thousands of dollars, it’s taken the Starbucks approach to shop locations, with branches opposite each other on streets, or two doors apart on the same road, and all over the city. And all seemed to be really busy with people buying diamonds and gold. Hong Kong throws all sorts of crazy materialism at you, but this
Kowloon, one of the districts of Hong Kong, is amongst the most densely populated places on the planet. Its 2,000,000 or so people are crammed into 47 square kilometres; at the same density, London or Toronto would have a population of around 75 million.
Views of Hong Kong Island’s stunning cityscape from Kowloon, day, dusk and night.
A real highlight of the trip so far, and doubly so coming after the mega-trek through China, was meeting up with Michelle and Colin for a trip to the Peak in Hong Kong. It was wonderful to see some familiar friendly faces after 6 weeks on the road, and the view from the top, and the ferry-ride across from Kowloon, made for a lovely overview of the city and wider territory.
More high speed trains, this time in China. Taking the train is not nearly as simple a process as in Japan. All bags get scanned (admittedly in a rather haphazard way) and they don’t let you down onto the platform to wait for the train, instead lining you up in the terminal building - it’s all a bit airportish. The last shots are of Shanghai’s Hongqiao station. It’s absolutely huge, with 28 platforms. So huge that if you don’t turn up more than half an hour before your train (thankfully Ramzi had give us fair warning) you end up having
Because we are crazy, we decided to go from Fenghuang to Hong Kong in a single day. A précis: 0720: depart deserted guest house and walk through deserted streets to the spot by the bridge on the side of the road where allegedly someone will pick us up. 0728: start to panic when no car has appeared 0732: get into car and mentally apologize for doubting the guest house staff. 0749: arrive at bus station, having miraculously survived perilous drive 0753: board bus to Changsha 0759: bus departs Fenghuang bus station. Wonder if the intermittent high-pitched beeping
I wouldn’t say you go to Fenghuang for the food, exactly (bizarrely, it seems most Chinese tourists go for the clubbing). But there were plenty of interesting eats on offer: small stalls frying up food on demand, chilies befitting Hunan’s spicy reputation, a startling variety of dried animals, a preponderance of dehydrated kiwi (why?), omnipresent sugared nuts being pounded into a candy, and dinner features still on the hoof/claw/paw/webbed foot.