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Hong Kong, Hong Kong - An Island Metropolis - 17 November 2001

Posted by Edmond on Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Diary entry describing my stopover visit in Hong Kong on my return back to London. First experiences in my relatives' apartment, catch up with friends and relatives and a quick tour of Times Square in Causeway Bay and Repulse Bay.

Hong Kong tour:
1. Central District for lunch
2. Causeway Bay and Times Square
3. Repulse Bay
4. Temple of Kwun Yum

I finally got the chance to visit Hong Kong while returning back to London from Sydney. I last visited Hong Kong and my cousins in 1987, when I was about 11. So I'm a bit nervous about going to Hong Kong as I don't know what to expect both from my cousins and the city itself. I've heard that Hong Kong has changed alot since my last visit and I am well aware of the fact that its once roaring economy has now been in recession for the past year, causing massive unemployment and job losses. Such good runs in prosperity had to end, and it's a relief that people are starting to wake up from the hype of the Internet boom and all those IT salespeople trying to make the next big buck.

Meanwhile, I moved into my relatives' place in Sai Wan. It was pretty small and the bed was even smaller and uncomfortable, but it is quite close to the tram stop. After my first night, I decided to give the option of sleeping on the floor, since I thought it was more courteous that I suffered instead of them. Still, it beats paying HK $1000 (or AU$300) a night staying in a average standard hotel, and I have to give up life's little luxuries some time in my life.

After having lots of sleep last night from my long flight from Sydney, I went with my relatives and some friends to Times Square to see what sort of cameras were available. I had left my SLR camera behind in London, since I had heard stories that some airports were searching cameras. Anyway, Times Square is located near Causeway Bay, just past Hong Kong's business centre of Admiralty. To get there from Central district (Chung Wan), we had to get the Hong Kong metro, which are really efficient and clean compared to the London tube.

Times square is one huge shopping mall built at the square where many large department stores selling electrical, fashion and other items can be found. There was a certain buzz of activity around the square. Around the mall and the square, smaller shops huddled under older office and apartment blocks, their walls grimy with the pollution and smoke in the city, and lots of colourful neon banners attached in all different places above and around the shops and buildings. And around the square, outside the shopping mall, groups of young people congregated, probably either meeting and catching up with friends or just hanging out.

We went to Times Square mainly because my relatives felt that the chances of being ripped off are nearly nil. Suddenly I didn't feel so comfortable shopping here, especially so when my cantonese is so poor. And "nearly nil" just doesn't cut it up for me. But after talking to some of the shopowners selling eletronic goods inside the mall, I got less nervous and splurged on a brand new compact digital camera.

Later in the afternoon, we arrived at Repulse bay by catching a bus from Central - I think it was No 6 or 6A. It seemed like an impulse decision, but it was also a good place to test out the camera. And, it is also a secluded, sun-kissed beach and bay where holiday resorts dominate the hillside and visitors and locals come here to play, swim and relax. As can be seen from the photos, not really ideal for surfing, just relaxing.

At the far end of the beach towards the east, is the Kwun Yum Temple. The temple is full of statues and mosaics of Kwun Yum, the God of Mercy, while a much larger statue of a Buddha with four faces sits outside facing the bay. I decided not to take photos of this area on advice from my relatives. They mentioned it was for spiritual reasons. Not surprisingly, my guide book didn't have any photos but I did see a photo of the temple and the statue at the Hong Kong tourist website.

Later in the evening, we headed back up the beach to the restaurant. The restaurant was unusual in that they gave each customer a barbecue stove which was used to grill seafood and meat that was neatly laid out at the front of the restaurant. As night approached, the view beyond the bay transformed into an eerie pitch black. Despite this, there was a surprisingly calm atmosphere and I started to relax...

I tried to think of something deep to say
But my well is dripping dry today

Edward Kowalczyk

After a few more moments of resting and conversation since finishing our dinner, we all headed back home. Another long and hectic day for a traveller.

Edmond, 2002