If in Adelaide and Melbourne you couldn’t fail to notice that Christmas was imminent, despite the blistering weather, in Hong Kong the festive season was underway with a vengeance, displays on speed. In the smoggy, humid atmosphere, enormous, glittering decorations hung eveyrwhere, vast Christmas trees constructed from lurid toy figures, a full sized, glitzy, Cinderella-style coach.
I often like to pick up a small Christmas tree decoration from places we travel. They are a welcome reminder, in the depths of a UK winter, of our trips and travels and take up very little space in the luggage. In the night markets of Hong Kong there there was no shortage of knick-knacks along the rows of stalls lining the streets in a blaze of light, colour and sound. It was a simple matter to find gift items like beautiful silk scarves in jewel-like colours.
A must-do tourist activity is going up Victoria Peak, from where there can be stunning views. We got our funicular tickets and duly rode up to the top, which was entirely shrouded in thick cloud. All there was to look at was a tawdry collection of stalls selling trinkets.
Friends who’d been following the same trail [from New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup, to Australia and now to Hong Kong] were staying in a hotel on Hong Kong Island and we’d decided to meet up for an evening meal. Wanting to sample something authentic, we spent some time selecting a restaurant, eventually choosing one with a first floor dining room that looked comfortable and smart. It was quiet, only a couple of other tables occupied. When the waiter came and gave us menus we couldn’t make head nor tail of them, but looking at the other diners, it seemed as if we were to cook the food at our table! Who knew? We were baffled, the staff knowing neglible English [this was before the advent of Google translate, you understand]. Our friend, D, peered at the waiter and asked if we could ‘just have a stir fry’ which, I have to admit, struck me as so amusing at the time that I became quite helpless with laughter.
Eventually we ordered something or other and it was edible. But I’d so have liked to have had a gourmet guide on our trip to Hong Kong because I’m certain we missed out on a wonderful gastronomic experience.
Another day we got the gondola ride up and over to Ngong Ping village to look at the big Buddha, a statue which looks out over the mountains and green landscape. Again, the humidity had prompted thick mist to descend, resulting in low visibilty for the ride, although once we’d gained the top it was sunny and clear, the Buddha impressive in its inscrutability. And there, in another surprise, were our friends again! We wandered around the inevitable tourist stalls then climbed into a gondola car together for the descent.
For our last evening in Hong Kong we joined the spectators at the harbourside for Victoria Harbour’s nightly sound and light show, which was impressive.
By now Christmas was very close. It was, at last, time to turn towards home. We’d been away for three months, the longest trip we’ve ever taken, before or since.
Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.