What a contrast! Wow! Modern high rises as far as the eye can see – the tops were in the clouds, English is everywhere, it’s clean (at least the subways and malls) and organized. There are 7 million people packed into 400 square miles, that’s smaller than London or New York. The life expectancy here is the longest of anywhere in the world. The subways are all connected by huge modern malls going right under the Bay, it’s like Metrotown that goes on and on and on. Gazing at the subway map trying to decipher which to go, a lovely Asian couple offer to help us. It turns out they are from Hong Kong originally but have been living in Richmond, B.C. for the last 20 years! In the subway all heads are down, I didn’t see one person without a cell phone.
First stop was Victoria Peak where we took a tram up the mountain in the middle of the city. Unfortunately the weather was a cool 58 degrees and drizzling, I wasn’t expecting Vancouver weather! The mountain was in the clouds with the city below. Listening to the audio you should be able to see Kow Loon and the 8 mountain peaks which they call the 9 dragons, adding an Emporer as the 9th dragon. Victoria Harbour is the deepest Harbour there is and the Mong Kok district is the most densely populated area anywhere in the world. There are more high rises here than in New York and only a couple buildings in the world are taller than Hong Kong’s II International Finance Center. Some floors are missing, the 24th whose characters mean easily dies and the 14th which means definitely dies! You can see high rises with floors literally missing, a big gap between these floors with only the elevator going through them. The clouds separated for a few minutes and we could see the tops of some of the high rise buildings, but for the most part we were socked in, a pity, it would be breathtaking if it was a clear day.
From there we took a ferry from Victoria Island to Kow Loon on the mainland. These two areas were the original city of H.K. owned by the British. As the city grew Britain leased land known as The New Territories from China for 99 years, and in 1997 had to give it back. They also gave them the Island and Kow Loon because it was unsustainable by itself. Although China now has it, it is under a special economic zone. We saw the majestic colonial Heritage Hotel and walked the famous Nathan Road that reminded me in a way of New York’s Times Square. Something interesting that I observed as we walked along the streets was the scaffolding that was all made of bamboo, apparently it is super strong and also bends if it has to making it excellent material to use. Not near enough time before we had to head back to the ship, we saw a mere smidgen of the city, will definitely have to come back to spend a few days or weeks here!
As we left port the numbers of high rises that surrounded the entire bay was staggering! As far as you could see in any direction was office towers and condos. Hard to imagine what the life style would be like to live here.
Well all this poor weather followed us out to sea and the ship was rockin’n’rollin along making it hard to walk a straight line! First it felt like walking up a steep hill, then it felt like being pushed and it’s hard for your feet to keep up. One of the speakers had to cancel because he was sick, I didn’t get sick but was very happy when it finally calmed down late the next day.
One of the movies on the ship was Railway Man, a true story of a British soldier captured by the Japanese in Thailand, very interesting since we’d just been to the River Kwai where the movie took place. It is a powerful movie of the human spirit and forgiveness.
Next stop The Phillipians.