Monday, 5 November 2012

Hong Kong

A night-time view of Hong Kong from our plush hotel
After a typically last minute pack and re-pack we were finally under way with a quick taxi to Manchester airport and flight down to Heathrow. Caroline tried in vain to get us an upgrade for the long flight to Hong Kong, but even the "my daddy was a captain with British Airways" card didn't work, so we were stuck with the rest of the plebs in economy class for 12hrs.

Hong Kong was a very mild introduction to the 24-7 lifestyle that seems normal for other large Asian cities, but with none of the conmen, beggars, flithy taxi's or all pervasive smell of sewage that Bangkok offered. All in all, this made it not such a bad intro to the backpacker way of travelling for Caroline, whose previous travel experience was limited to business class jollies funded by our co-employer or as a travel perk when her father used to work for BA.

Caroline seemed to take to the backpacker style with ease; here seen modelling three bags whilst transitting from the airport to Hong Kong central.
Our first evening was spent wandering around town close to our hotel (4* Park Lane Hotel - booked through work at discount corporate travel rates) where we found a "wet" market with numerous fresh wriggling crabs and fish being chopped up seconds after being pulled from their watery homes.

Caroline not looking comfortable with the thought of some very fresh fish...

The next day - our first full day in Hong Kong - we wanted to take the tram up to The Peak to view the city from above but with crowds massing we decided to walk through the aviary gardens first. This made a very worthwhile distraction and photographic opportunity before finally taking the plunge and standing in-line for 60minutes waiting to get on the tram. Thankfully the view was worth the wait, but with the crowds again queuing to back down on the tram we decided to walk back, which took us through the mid-levels and on to Sheung Wan.

Colourful resident of the HongKong aviary
In Sheung Wan we came across lots of stalls selling a variety of Chinese medicines and alternative food products including Ginseng root and Swallows nests. Most shocking of all was peeking over a white washed glass fronted shop and seeing dozens of sacks, each filled with hundreds of sharks fins. Seeing all these in one place was a pretty stomach churning sight; thinking that for each 5 or 6 fins a shark had been thrown back in without the ability to swim and an inevitable death from drowning.

Some of the hundreds of sharks fins seen behind a white washed window
Thankfully, dinner wasn't such a sombre affair and a fair amount of hilarity ensued whilst trying to decipher the tick box menu with the couple sitting next to us speaking as little English as we spoke Cantonese...

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