Saturday, 11 October 2014

Hong Kong

Hong Kong by Carole's Chatter

 Today's post is about some general aspects of our recent visit to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is slightly south of the Tropic of Cancer.  It is made up of 235 islands plus a small slice of mainland.  More than 60% of Hong Kong's land is in parks and open country. Its total area is 425 sq miles.  About 7 million people live there. Almost everyone there speaks Cantonese.  We felt quite safe on the streets.

The British arrived in the 17th Century  and in 1841 the colony was ceded to Britain.  Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese between 1941 and 1945.  In 1997 there was a transfer of sovereignty from London to Beijing - one country 2 systems.  But the harbour is still called Victoria Harbour  - after Queen Victoria and the city still has iconic British shops like Harvey Nicks  and Marks and Sparks

View from our room during thunderstorm in Hong Kong by Carole's Chatter

Weather

You need to be prepared for the weather to affect your plans – we experienced intense and prolonged thunderstorms in the afternoon.  It is a sub-tropical climate so it is always hot – the only difference is whether it is also rainy as well.

Hong Kong by Carole's Chatter

Shopping

Hong Kong is known for its shopping.  But I found the large shopping centres a bit soulless (other than the food shops) and most of the shops seemed to be stuffed with expensive designer label things.  If you can afford that you will have a lot of choice in Hong Kong.

Chinese traditional medicine shops were much in evidence - cheek by jowl with shops of international brands – there must be money in those medicines!

You will find people accost you on the street to try and encourage you to go into their shops – but on this trip they just spoke to you.  Years ago when I was there on my own I was disconcerted to find people trying to drag you into their shops bodily!

MTR

We used the MTR – underground railway.  It is cheap and easy to figure out.  You just get your tickets from the machines and then put them through the turnstiles on the way into the platforms and out on arrival.  There are discounts for older people.

Museum of History, Hong Kong by Carole's Chatter

Museum of History

We are not big museum people but we did visit the Museum of History. We had a bit of a look at an exhibit of things found in archaeological excavations in Guandong, Hong Kong and Macao – the exhibit was free and there were English descriptions. But I can't say that it really floated my boat.




Airport and Taxis

In 1998 the new airport opened - Chek Lap Kok - built mainly on reclaimed land – the Airport Express train takes 23 mins but it is only a bit more time by taxi.  The airport is the size of Heathrow and JFK airports combined.

The old Kai Tak airport was much closer in and exciting - but the huge suspension bridges you now go over pretty much make up for that - Tsing Ma and Ting Kao - over 7000 ft - longest integrated road and rail span in the world.

On arrival have to walk until down long escalator and then catch a train to building where immigration and customs are.  Trains arrive every 3 minutes.

We caught a taxi from the airport to our hotel in Kowloon – 252HKD (including a 50 HKD surcharge for the toll road).  (That's just over $30 US)


The people managing the taxi rank gave us a card with details about how to complain about taxis.  They strapped our luggage into the trunk – sticking out – we discovered that this is how it's done in Hong Kong – never mind the pelting rain!

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