11.07.2014 - 18.07.2014 31 °C
It has been an extremely busy week, but mainly because of work and so nothing particularly newsworthy. I moved onto Hong Kong Island, at first into a suburb called Sheung Wan - it is a sort of in between place: to the west of the flashier terndier parts of Central and Causeway Bay (more on this next time) and to the east of Kennedy Town, which just about to emerge as it awaits its connection to the light rail system. So there's a lot of traditional Hong Kong about Sheung Wan - older buildings with clothes and air conditioning units dangling out the windows, narrow streets, customary industries, men in nooks and crannies going about their business.
Hong Kong Island is a bit like Dunedin, in that it is very hilly, but perhaps more like Wellington, in that the narrow streets twist and curl their way along and up the hill, with numerous sets of steps to link them.
I don't know how google maps does it, but it seems to have got its head around these steps - so tonight, it told me to head right, then left, then down 23 steps to the same street I'd been on by way of short cut. Then it told me which bus to catch to get me back home. It is a bit of a thrill to be sitting up in the front of a double decker bus as it navigates these streets, even better in the little minibuses that race aboout. For a more sedate, and older, form of transport you have these:
My particular street was called Des Voeux Road, which some signs translated as dried seafood street. I actually managed to forget that, so a couple of times I emerged from my hotel and wondered at the rather pungent odours. I have to say that none of the food tempted me.
At the same time, there's a new vibe emerging in Sheung Wan - apparently quite a few artists and fashion designers have moved in, and there's a huge range of what you might call ethnic food - I've noticed most countries represented, including attempts at classic American burger bars, a true southern pulled pork outlet and a Dutch cheese shop in among the more traditional sources of food. There is also redevelopment - the flash buildings are coming in.
Something dear to my heart: the coffee shops, which are popping up in side streets and odd corners. I came across several where I could have just as easily been in Auckland as Hong Kong - not just the style, but the menu: full cooked breakfasts. Here, it is way too hot to be wanting to eat anything at all, let alone bacon, eggs, beans, sausages... I was a bit annoyed to finally discover my preferred cafe just the day before it was time to leave the area.
Just to clarify - that is two different cafes, the interior is a place called Open Door, just round the corner from my hotel, really. Something else which annoyed me - the IFC Mall. It is a very posh place, very high ceilings, glossy shops, wide thoroughfares and completely befuddling. I only went in because I needed to restock my teabags and being a teasnob, the only place that would do was in the IFC Mall. I found the tea place immediately, but there is a cinema and a couple of other places I wanted to see. There was a digital map with shop numbers - but all of the shops were far too precious to actually put a number up - I still haven't found the cinema. I did enjoy the roof, where I could look back across to the mainland - the buildings were all lit up, so the sky was still blue at 10:00 at night, but the water was this mysterious inky black, with a few boats bustling about. I took a photo with my phone but the result is a bit embarrasing. I had more success with this
I was a bit sad to leave my hotel because, apart from the seriously weird wifi - it worked perfectly, but they blocked access to various sites for "security reasons": after I complained, they seemed to work out which sites I used most, then blocked them - it was well set up for working in and had a huge room
but my conference beckoned at HKU. I stayed in Kennedy Town, because google had told me it was a 12 minute walk, which it was, if you can cope with all the steps in the heat - after doing it once, I took the bus. Kennedy Town had a few western looking bars in among the more traditional Hong Kong shops and restaurants but I'm afraid I was barely there - up and away at 8:00 for the conference, and not leaving until 12 hours later. Conference was very, um, edifying - many of th sessions weren't really my thing, but it was interesting to see how far from the practice of law people in my profession can get. The last couple of days, they freaked us out with talks of an Extreme Typhoon (it killed about 30 people in the Philippines) but apart from a bit of heavy rain and a cooling breeze, it was a non-event (thankfully).