We left Australia, flying out of Melbourne and knowing that this elongated excursion had little more time to run.
But there was one more set of thrills to be had before we turned our noses towards home. Australia, as we all know, is a long way from the UK and anyone with a brain cell realises that the civilized way to do it is to have a stopover. And if you aren’t time-poor, it’s even better to stretch the stopover into a few days.
This means, of course that you need to choose somewhere you want to see, somewhere worth the time. We’d opted for Hong Kong, the nearest thing to China but with a westernised twist. These days I’d be uneasy about visiting this commercial outpost of China, fearful of unrest or draconian laws since it was hauled, kicking and screaming under Chinese government rule. But this was before the protests and the unrest and all was calm.
Our hotel was in Kowloon, which is across Victoria Harbour from Hong Kong Island. Our immediate area was teeming with commerce, especially street food stalls selling a plethora of foods- some recognisable but many not. Plucked fowl were hung by their feet from the tops of stalls as were other, unidentifiable body parts. We needed to eat, of course and were keen to sample street food, but didn’t know where to start. Eventually we found a stall selling pork balls and settled for those; unadventurous but safe!
In order to see Hong Kong Island we had to get across Victoria Harbour. There are ferries but we opted to go via the metro, which runs underneath. Navigating and understanding the vagaries of ticketing and where to go was not easy- it never is in a foreign city- but we managed it. On the crowded train I was struck by the fashion sense of the beautiful young women passengers, most of whom were dressed wonderfully and with immensely vertiginous footwear.
On the Hong Kong Island side there were more bustling alleys full of food stalls and I wondered how it was possible to sell such an abundance of meals and snacks. But then, the entire place is packed solid with people, notoriously so, as is evident in the forest of skyscrapers soaring up to dizzying heights. New blocks were being constructed everywhere despite the fact that there didn’t seem to be any more room for them. The scaffolding for these constructions was all of bamboo poles, which was an eye-opener!
The trams that ran along the main streets had a character of their own. Unlike the long, sleek, snaking trams of European cities they were individual vehicles, quaintly old-fashioned and colourful, begging to be ridden!
Next week; Night markets, the misty peak, the restaurant conundrum and a foray to the mainland via unusual transport.
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