Hong Kong

Arrive 24/10, leave 27/10 – slightly shorter than I intended.

Imogen asked why on earth I wanted to go to Hong Kong.  It is on the itinerary because my parents were married there, at St Andrew’s Church.  It is also said to be good for walks. And perhaps slightly more comfortable, at least where language is concerned, than the rest of East Asia.

The first day, I was overwhelmed. I got off the airport bus at the Macau Terminal and could not see how to cross the main road.  The answer was by pedestrian footbridge, of which there are many, snaking their way through shopping malls, banks and offices.  Once over the road, my pop-out map made it easy to find the hotel on Wing Lok Street, best known for trading in bird’s nest soup.  I found my way to St John’s Cathedral, decided against queuing for the Peak Tram, and walked through the aviary at Hong Kong Park.  Ate a small pizza at a restaurant in a shopping mall by the same footbridge, and returned to my room to study the guidebook.

Tuesday

Most museums are closed on Tuesdays so I took the ferry to Lantau Island and a bus to the Big Buddha.

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Then I walked the Wisdom Path, which turned out to be the Heart Sutra on wooden pillars.  I thought I had a translation somewhere on the Kindle but could not find it.

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A pleasant walk back for lunch at the monastery restaurant – pumpkin soup, rice (which I avoided), and three dishes of vegetables, of which I managed two and a half, the third one being too difficult with chopsticks.

Very beautiful Hall of 1000 buddhas, no photographs allowed inside.

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Returned by bus to a subway station. The bus rides up and down the mountains were spectacular.

Back in town mid-afternoon, I decided to explore the Mid-level escalators. Rather than walking down through the streets of little hillside shops and cafés, I carried on going up, first by road then on a track which claimed thirty minutes to the Peak.  This was actually to the Peak Galleria, the tram terminus, whence a path circumnavigated the Peak with great views. Going to the top seemed to involve a lot of road walking so I gave it a miss, and, darkness falling, went down by bus.

Wednesday

Ferry to Kowloon. Visited St Andrew’s Church where my parents were married,

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and the Museum of History.

The church has just celebrated 110 years. The baptistery windows – was my sister June baptised there ? – are probably original, the one below dates from 2006.

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I thanked God for my parents and regretted that I had not asked them about their time here. My mother’s book about her life stopped at the wedding, and we failed to encourage her to write a sequel.

The history museum started with a lot about how various kinds of rocks were formed. The rest of the ground floor was not particularly interesting, and I did not realise until I had walked through it that there were more galleries on the second floor. Lots of old photos from the time of the British, some whole shops acquired when the owners went out of business, harrowing details of the Japanese invasion and the typhoon of 1962, right up to Prince Charles looking on as the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the Chinese flag raised.

Set off to Y M T meaning to do some shopping, but chickened out when I reached a subway station. Back in town, I continued on the subway to North Point to check where the airport bus stops, having failed to find an airport-bound stop near the Macau Terminal. Lunch at a café which looked completely Chinese but produced a menu with English translation from which I chose fried pork with aubergine and bean curd. “Don’t you want rice with it?”  Actually, no.

On my quest for the large water bottle specified for the Vietnam trip, I visited a shop called Round the World and bought the kind you keep in the backpack and access through a plastic tube.  Could not find out how it works, but suppose the trip leader will know. Maybe I should have got some cleaning tablets as well.  I did splash out on a new sun hat.

Eucharist at the cathedral and home to pack.