A Travellerspoint blog

March 2018

Back to Nature in Hong Kong-

Yesterday, I decided to see something different. I wanted to see some nature-so i took the ferry to Lantau island-which is actually the largest island in Hong Kong. Lantau island has a few different parts-one features the airport and Disneyland-which is obviously the busy section, and the other is really just nature. So I awoke early, took the train to the ferry terminal across the river, and took a nice 40 minute ride to a part of Lantau Island called Mui Wo. Mui Wo is a nice little village which i arrived at.

I now have the Lonely Planet guide with me, so the Planet Guide showed there was a hiking trail, which went to the a waterfall garden and an old salt cave. So as soon as I got off the ferry, and went behind the town and climbed a road that looked like it would lead to those things. I got pretty high-and reached a Municipal building, which I believe is a water plant-I asked directions. The first few people either didn't speak English or didn't understand what i was asking. But I quickly learned i went the wrong way-as per usual.

So I walked all the down the hill, and bought some water and lunch (raw ravioli and some olives) at the supermarket. I walked through the town, which has a pretty beach. The town also had little houses, small restaurants, and people riding bikes through town, sometimes pedaling with a little cart with the wife and child on the back. Eventually I did find the trail that supposedly led up to the cave and waterfall garden. It went up the hill, past the town, and past an old Buddhist Church, and finally reached the waterfall garden-which was about 90% dry-only about 10% of the garden was gushing water. That said, it was a nice place to lie down and take a break, and eat some of the olives which we're unbelievably salty (they looked good at the time).

Then I went up the hill (just a little up the hill) to the salt cave, Signs said that the cave had bats and an underground river, which was pretty cool, but I only went in about 3 feet, and found the cave was closed. So the Waterfall Garden had barely any water and the cave was closed.

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I then walked back to town, I passed by cows grazing, and houses in the countryside.

i found out there was a hike to a Trappist Monastery, which can be reached by passing the town. That is what I did.

I passed by the beautiful beach, and followed the signs. i found that the Monastery was reached by climbing a lot of steps, and the more steps, and still more steps-then a clearing, yet more steps, and more steps, and more steps. I saw the view-i was climbing high up the mountain. Then a clearing, and A LOT of more steps upwards. I was getting sweaty and winded- as it was hot out. But a lot of Chinese people already made the climb, including older people and kids, and they didn't look tired at all. I came to a viewing point, and saw the Monastery far below. I walked down the hill, down, down, and down-and finally came to the Monastery. It was quite beautiful. I saw the garden and a chapel. I sat for a while in contemplation.

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I found that if I kept walking, I could get to a place called Discovery Bay, where there we're restaurants and I could get back to the ferry. i found this out by a black haired professional guy who worked at HSBC bank, and lived there. Actually, he seemed to indicate there was nothing there.

I walked down, towards a beach, with the intent of reaching Discovery Bay anyway. The beach was peaceful, but there was a lot of garbage there.
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I ended up walking on the wrong path after a while, and came to a little shack where people we're cooking, and the air smelled like animal poop. I was told I was headed the wrong way.

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i found the correct path. I passed by more shacks. I l earned that a lot of these people we're squatters. There we're signs from the Hong Kong government that a lot of these houses we're about to be demolished. By this time it was getting dark. I passed more squatters houses and vegetable gardens, when I came to Discovery Bay, a large apartment development. I found a bus that went to the Metro, and got off at the station. i found an incredibly inexpensive take-out sushi joint (I got 3 large containers of sushi for $10.00) I guess this was a popular place, as lines we're around the block.

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i then took the Metro back to the hostel. I was tired-many were out. Friends was turned on again.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:49 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Another Day in Hong Kong-Stuck in 2nd Gear

Yesterday wasn't a particularly exciting day here in Hong Kong. I did change hostels. The original hostel was very small-as I mentioned, I was in a room with 4 others. And I was stuffed in there. There was no common area-except for three stools and a small desk-and a bench which was covered with stuff most of the time. So if you wanted a place to hang out-no such place was available. The elevator was really really slow (the hostel was on the 14th floor-so it was a long time getting there). But the real reason for checking out was that rates we're increasing sharply at the hostel for the holiday weekend, and I didn't want to pay that much (from approximately $22 per night to $65 per night).

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Yesterday, my room mate was in the common area taking up space with his tablet-pretty much all of the space in the common area. so I ended up going to McDonalds about a block and a half away to do some work. At McDonalds in Hong Kong, a lot of people are sleeping (with their heads down on the tables).

After work, I checked out of the hostel. I took the elevator with two of my room mates-a 50ish person from Atlanta who was visiting his daughter studying there, and a 20ish South Korean (I believe) who was taking an international business class in Hong Kong. I walked over to a place called Sim City-which sold used camera gear, and i bought a used lens.

After that, I retrieved my bag at the hostel i just checked out of, took the Metro, or MTR as it is called 2 stops, and went to the new hostel. The new hostel was different immediately-it was in a decent part of town-actually closer to the tourist attractions. While the room was somewhat crowded as well-a larger space-but with 12 beds (4 3-level bunk beds), there was a nice common area with millennials sitting around chatting. There was even a dumpling course going on at the hostel, with an instructor teaching folks how to make dumplings. It was nice to see life.

So I left the hostel feeling ok that I checked out of that first hostel. I went to a bookstore nearby, and took a walk to the waterfront. There, I met some Indonesian woman-one who gave me a snack of some delicious banana treats she baked. She is starting a business on baking these treats. We spoke for a while, as I visited Indonesia before, and we discussed my trip. I also learned that like Filipinos, many Indonesians work in Hong Kong.

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Then I took the MTR back to the hostel (my shirt was still there-drying), and i went back to Sim City-the used camera mart to look around again. There was a lot going on in this part of town-lots of open area markets, people performing, and lots of folks in streets. I walked around, looking at the different stores, and walked the blocks downtown to the new hostel (which probably took an hour or two).

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It was late when I got back to the new hostel, and I found folks watching a tv show in the common area. Not just any tv show, but that show which is shown all over the world, particularly in hostels. The show that has transcended decades, and everyone seems to love. I have had quite a few non-English speakers mention they learned English from that show.

Yes you guessed it-Friends. And episode upon episode of Friends was on. Even I am starting to like that show-(I didn't think much of it when it came out).

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:30 Comments (0)

Hong Kong-Like a Box of Chocolates

Yesterday I had my third walking tour with Matthew-the tour guide who's English is sort of hard to understand-but he makes it up with his enthusiasm. He uses words like "bye bye" if a building/person isn't around anymore. To have fun-he indicates moving his hips. And says words like "shopping" with much enthusiasm. And most important thing is to "be happy".

Yesterday's tour was on the island of Honk Kong, vs. Kowloon-where the hotel was.

I met Matthew for the tour of Hong Kong Island. I learned that the island is set along the original British system-and the streets we're designed by the British. I also saw that double decker streetcars ply the island, and to take the streetcar from one end to the other would take about 3 hours. Most of the big banks where big-earners work are on this side of the island-as are most of their homes-which are tiny apartments which are thousands of dollars per month to rent. Of the seven million people who live in Hong Kong-a million are millionaires.

We saw the great plazas of office buildings, where people like to have picnics on weekends (i guess because apartments/houses are so small on the British side). We also passed by the mid-level escalators-the longest running escalator system in the world-which goes partially up the mountain.

We had pieces of tangerine peel, which is supposed to be good for digestion I believe, and saw delicacies of Pig Ear (Matthew likes to show food on his tours). We went to an art center where artists are encouraged to start businesses by the government, and saw a Tao Church.

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The tour was three hours in total, which is long-and I was tired at the end, so i did what I usually do when I am tired, I took a nap on a bench. After around 20 minutes (I think)-I wandered around aimlessly, like I like to do. Eventually, I found the escalator system. I took it up the hill-I past by bars where locals like to hang out and drink. I went past quaint streets. Eventually, I came to the end of the system. I walked up hills-following signs for the "peak tram" (which was at the mountain peak, I guess). I walked up the streets, which had the giant high rise developments. i saw BMW's, Lexus', and taxis pull into the various developments. I saw nannies walking kids around.

i then found a path through the park winding upwards. As I went to through the park-I came to a bathroom, and the toilet didn't flush-I knew we we're in rural territory now. I came across various ladies walking dogs. Most of the ladies we're Filipino, and worked here in Hong Kong. (just like in Dubai). The path wound round and up the hill.

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After about 1/2 an hour of walking up that hill, it seems, I came to the top. I was expecting a small building, with a viewing platform-but what I found, and was totally surprised to see, was a full fledged shopping mall, complete with a Burger King, Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company (The Chinese people pronounce it Booba Goomp), a Fossil store, etc.
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I did pay approximately $7 to see the viewing platform, and went to the top for a great view of the island. I also saw the light show-which was different buildings in the city lit up (pales in comparisons to Dubais).

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after that, I decided to take the tram down the hill-which i did-and walked back to the train. I took the train to my neighborhood, and had dinner in some big building with many restaurants. (it was 10:30 at night, and most we're crowded). One hostess spoke little English, and couldn't comprehend the issue of one person dining by themselves. i did find a Korean place where I ended up eating-and then went back to the hostel.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:35 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Hong Kong Day #2

I got up around 6:30 yesterday and went to work in the common area of the hostel. This hostel is small in every way. I am in a 4 person dorm-although only 3 of us are staying in there now. My bed is next to the wall-my neighbors bed is next to the wall-and if I reach my arm across I can touch my neighbor's bed. This would be ok if there was a large common area-but the common area is really just a small desk and 3 stools-so this place clearly isn't a place to spend any time at. And in the common area, the guy who works at the hostel sleeps in a cot, so I worked for a little with the guy in his cot. Once the guy folded up his cot though-it was only a few minutes more until some hostel lady ordered me to move my feet so she can clearn the floor. She got up with her mop and bucket, removed the stools, and started to clean. I just lifted my feet so she can do her job.

After a while-I got on the MTR-Hong Kong's expensive subway, so I could get to where the tour meets for the 11:00 am walking tour I have scheduled.-This tour took place by the clock tower near the ferry terminal, I place I haven't been before. I had time-so I stopped at Mcdonalds for breakfast. I had the big breakfast with an Ovaltine and yogurt. When I went to use the restroom-it was being cleaned. I waited about 20 minutes-it was still being cleaned. I went to a restroom at the opposite end of the small mall I was in-and that one was being cleaned as well. I came back to the Mcdonalds rest room-it was still being cleaned. Finally, the cleaning woman-who saw me while she was walking slowly back and forth with her mop bucket and toilet paper-let me in to do her business. She was still cleaning-she just let me in. Cleanliness is obviously a priority in Hong Kong-vs. Egypt, where in Cairo the same piece of old pastry wrapper was on the stairs to the hostel for the entire 4 days I was there.

At 11:00 a tour guide named Matthew introduced himself to roughly 6 of us-and he showed us the old water tower, which was part of the train station-but the train station was torn down a long time ago, and moved aways-the water tower still stands as memorial to old Hong Kong. He told us the language in Hong Kong is actually Cantonese-and taught us a few phrases (which I forget). He showed as the Peninsula hotel-where Jackie Chan likes to eat, and a traditional British tea is served for around $45 US dollars at 4:00 pm in the afternoon. They also have 15 minute helicopter rides for approximately $250 around Hong Kong harbor. We also had a taste of egg balls, a traditional treat, and some tea, which was pretty good. He showed us a little Indian market-where there was cheap Indian food. His English was a little hard to understand-and when he wanted to say a building/place wasn't around any longer-he said "bye bye no more". He was very enthusiastic. Although I didn't learn as much as I would have liked, it was nice to meet other travelers, including an Ecuardorian girl with her boyfriend, and a family from Germany who originally came from Turkey.

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After the tour-I checked another office about getting a Chinese Visa-I learned while it would be expensive-I could come in the following Tuesday and have it ready the next day if I rushed it-this seemed like a good plan if I was willing to wait.

After this, I walked back to the ferry terminal, and the Hong Kong Cultural center. Outside, there was a free concert from some groups in traditional costumes. Different groups of singers got up-some very good, and some painful to the ears.

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Later on, I had another tour with Matthew-this showing the night markets-this was much more interesting. Matthew showed us where the food is made. He showed us people setting up for the night market, boxes of live frogs ready to be cooked, snakes which we're alive ready to be killed and cooked, and he gave us taste of tangerines.

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Later on, I had dinner with Chorouk, a Morroccan I met on the walking tour l who was working in China, but whose Visa ran out and she was here to reapply. She told me the ins and out of China, and how few folks spoke English. We got lost walking back, found the MTR, and went back to our respective hostels.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:20 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Hong Kong-Consistent Stranger in Strange Land

Two days ago i flew from Cairo to Honk Kong-The flight was fine, changing planes in Abu Dhabi. I have been on planes a lot, and on Ethiad Airways, the food was good. The movies are all the same. I still haven't wanted Three Billboards from Eben Missouri (or whatever), which is on every plane I travel on.

Finally I arrived in Hong Kong-the airport is about an hour from the city, which I didn't expect, so according to directions from the hostel I took the bus directly from the airport to the city, and to the hostel. The hostel room is tiny, with a tiny sitting area.

As soon as I checked in-I went onto the street, which is extraordinarily busy. I wanted to find a place to fix my computer-which wasn't very difficult. There are all sorts of computer stores around the hostel, and they directed me to a place that fixes laptops. The guy told me to come back in 2 hours, in case I went to another place to see about a Visa for mainland China. I had to take a number and wait. My number was 71-they we're serving 43. I pictured myself being there for a long time, but it turned out I only had to to wait about 20 minutes. (there weren't 28 people in front of me-it turns out). I learned that it would take about 5-7 days (usually 4 but with Easter holiday)-in which case I would be without a passport. I also learned that I need an itinerary for China, and it would be around $3-400 to do this. Finally, I learned they can turn down my request for Visa-and I think I would get some money back (her English wasn't that good). So I didn't end up signing up then and there-I decided to wait-plus I didn't yet have an itinerary.

I then went back to the hostel to take a nap-and went out for dinner, which was my second soup with noodles and fish-which was spicy (I put spice in there)-I then walked around the many shops.hk.jpg

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:12 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

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