28.07.2014 - 03.08.2014 30 °C
A while ago, I read a Magnuss Mills satire, which was an odd one given that I never quite got the point of what he was satirising, called The Maintenance of Headway. Headway is the idea that instead of public transport running to a timetable which always gets screwed up, they simply maintain a fixed period between each bus, tram, whatever - this is headway, and Mills's book was really about maintaining it. I had never actually seen any place use this notion of headway, not until I went to Hong Kong, and the plaque at the bus stop would say "Headway - 7 minutes". Oddly enough, I have another connection between my reading habits and Hong Kong: another fairly obscure book I read was called How To Sharpen Pencils (really). The essential answer was to get a particular model of pencil sharpener - one I could not find in New Zealand, except for a very expensive antique version on trademe which has been unsold for more than a year now. In my wanderings around Hong Kong stationery shops, I found lots of these wee beasts, so that (together with about 3 dozen pencils, lots of cool notebooks (made from card, paper and spiral binding not silicon and plastic) and a few pens) is my souvenir of Hong Kong.
I actually did quite a lot of blog read research before I came to Hong Kong and so had quite a long list of places I wanted to see: most I didn't see. Instead, I took a more accidental approach - stay in one part for a while, see what was local, and move on to the next place, one which was largely chosen by the fact it was relatively cheap, provided free internet and didn't look like I'd get broken into. This process led to my last week being spent in North Point, in the same hotel my mum spent on the last night of the great trip she did shortly before she passed away, the Ibis. Although I was way up on the 27th floor, unfortunately I was facing away from the harbour - my only chance to view it was when the cleaners let me into the room opposite to admire the view - I'm sure it would be fantastic at night.
It turned out to be a really good location - several decent eating places nearby, a short tram journey down to the central library and a pleasant walk back in the evening. I don't think I'll be getting the Florence Nightingale award from the library any time soon - one afternoon, I was up in the very quiet 9th floor study space, but was constantly interrupted by this incessant sniffing and coughing - I actually thought it was an elderly gent, perhaps down on his luck, coming in out of the heat. I'm not sure what I would have said if it had been, but when I discovered it was a smirking teen, I suggested he might like to either die or get out of the library. [Poetic justice payback: I've had a sniff and cough for a week now that I can't shake.]
Just the other side of the library is central Causeway Bay and here I think I found my favourite cafe of all those I have liked in Hong Kong. I'd visited and liked the Coffee Academics cafe, but then discovered there was another, the original. It had a more lived in vibe, great food and bev, great staff and just a really nice atmosphere.
By about Friday night, I really thought it was incumbent on me to do some of the touristy things - Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the major tourist destinations - as Wikipedia says, many shops and eating establishments to cater for tourists. I had a quick walk though and accidentally found myself on a ferry to Hong Kong Island, where I found myself in Central. I've already had a quick walk through here - lots of places for tourists, yes, but also for locals, and very hilly - the streets zigzag in all directions. It was nice to wander though at a relaxed pace,
at least until the thunder storm! I went into an HMV high concept store - not even sure it was open, as the staff were stocking empty shelves, but it looked like an interesting venture, with a modernised version of the HMV dog featuring strongly.
Finally, on the Saturday, I found my way to the famed mid-level escalators - they run for nearly a kilometre, downhill from 6 - 10 and then uphill for the rest of the day (various attempts have been made to double-track the line, but it is unlikely to happen)
After a final roast duck on rice, I popped into the Maritime Museum for a look around - lots of history about Hong Kong maritime life, as to be expected, with models of various ships used in the past and then a few more modern items
Of course, I spent a bit of time on the Star Ferry boats, whichcross between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, among other places - they're pretty utilitarian but such a landmark of the Hong Kong water scene.
Years ago, I had a client making catamarans for use as ferries in Hong Kong - but I was not able to recall or find out which particular company is using them or even if they are still in service.
My last night in Hong Kong was actually back in Tsuen Wan, which proved to be a brilliant move. The bus to the airport, after touring several housing estates to collect passengers, soars over the western tip of Victoria Harbour and then has a straight run down the coast of Lantau Island - green bush to the left, ocean to the right. After sacrificing my umbrella to the check in guy and my waiter's friend to the X-Ray guy, I was good to go.