Hong Kong

Hong Kong Is For Everyone

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Hong Kong, always on the move

‘Fragrant Harbour’ was the literal translation of the Cantonese/Hakka word ‘Hoeng Gong’ referring to the tiny inlet at the location of Aberdeen harbour. Oh How Hong Kong has changed since the first British settlement, less than 200 years ago, now a thriving metropolis, it’s one of the busiest and most densely populated cities on Earth.

The Bank of China tower on Hong Kong Island, offers pretty good views from the 41st floor, even though on a clear day, the Hong Kong skyline is almost always covered in a haze. The best thing, to scale the tower is free!

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The History museum tells the Hong Kong story, from the geological formation of the islands, through the Japanese occupation and eventually to the handover back to China in 1997. Interestingly enough, the first ever British settlers arrived in Hong Kong after a group of drunken sailors murdered a local fisherman in Macau during the opium wars. The Portuguese, not happy sent the yobs away and they were forced to anchor on the shores of Hong Kong. This was also the first ever account of British hooliganism abroad…

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View of the islands from Ocean Park cable way

Avenue of the stars is Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood Boulevard. It features the hand prints of many famous people from the Hongkolly wood film and TV industry…

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Hong Kong’s own Bruce Lee

Ocean park is said to rival Disney land, it was how theme parks always are, a laugh. This the first sighting of the British influence over Hong Kong, as there were a lot of queues…

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Giant and Red Pandas, native to China

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Hong Kong is one of those cities you can wander around with no plans, there’s things to see and surprises around every corner. A pointless walk took us through some of the city’s busiest streets, and eventually to the bird market. Many bird fanatics gather here to sell exotic birds, cages, food and all things bird. Some simply come just to talk birds and show of their pride and joy in their pimped up cages. The bird market, is to a Hong Kong pensioner what Ocean road is to a Shields charva, except instead of shit cars being showed off, it’s birds…

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Check my bird out!

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Meat on the street

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Men gather in public areas to play cards

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The Royal Mail post boxes were painted green after the hand over in 1997, the colour of China Post

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The British influence can be seen in many Hong Kong street names

Chungking Mansions is good for one thing, after months of eating dodgy mutton meals and Chinese food, Indian curry never tasted so good! The Khyberpass mess club hidden away on the seventh floor has the best reputation and serves a wonderful vindaloo, at least our cheap room also provides free toilet paper…

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Andy Warhol’s exhibition was making a stop at the Hong Kong art museum. Was interesting to see his time capsules, the one on display showed items he collected on his trip to Hong Kong in 1982, turns out Andy was a bit of a hoarder…

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There’s no escaping Mao!

The zoological gardens is home to possibly my favourite animal, the Gibbon. I could never get bored of watching these creatures move around their habitat. We were told they have the same IQ as a three year old, higher than most of the numptys selling watches outside Chungking mansions. There were three brothers all together in one enclosure, Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibbon, collectively known as the Bee Gees…

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Barry Gibbon

The Peak Tram, opened by the British in 1926 was built to haul the rich residents to the upper levels of Hong Kong island. The steep tram way runs through the now swanky mid-levels area of Hong Kong through Soho, yes Hong Kong has a Soho. The peak is the highest point on Hong Kong island proper, so offers greats views of the city, both day and night…

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So three months on, we have travelled from Eastern Europe overland, through the Siberian late Autumn and the brutal Mongolian winter. One of the highlights of Hong Kong is being able to say we made it this far, and to be able to throw away the thermal clothes and hot water bottle, even if it did break my heart to say goodbye to my trusted Mongolian Moon pants. To Hong Kong, we’re just a passing bird waiting to fly, and just like the city, we won’t stop moving just yet…

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They saved my life!

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The city that never stops

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Categories: China, Hong Kong | 4 Comments

Ghetto At The Centre Of Hong Kong

Would you believe that Hong Kong is only a quick two hour bus ride from mainland China? When we arrived at our destination, Chungking Mansions, it was more like the type of cultural melting pot you would expect to find in London, not Chinese territory.

World famous and notoriously dubbed ‘ghetto at the centre of the earth’ Chungking Mansions is home to more than 80 guest houses over 14 floors, as well as dozens of drug dealers, petty criminals, scammers and illegal immigrants, I’m sure they are some decent people in there somewhere. The word ‘mansions’ is ironic as I’ve never stayed in a smaller room in my life. We’re woken in the morning by the sound of a pneumatic breaker or a washing machine bouncing around the corridor outside. These are all the reasons why Chungking mansions is the cheapest place to get a room in Hong Kong, a city with limited floor space and high rent.

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There are many people from all corners of the world in Chungking Mansions and i’m not the first to note, that it really is like the cantina from Star Wars, only here, the force is not with me. Every time I enter the building through the main entrance, or even when just walking past, you’re bombarded with ‘suit sir, suit friend, taylor suit, nice watch, fake hand bags, hash, need room, coke, anything?’… The touts outside see you as nothing more than a wallet on legs. And seriously though, if you wanted a suit fitted surely you would go looking for one, not just decide you need one because some kretin from the street whispered it in your ear? Try to joke with them, like I have done, by saying things like… ‘What about gimp suits, got any of them?’ This will only aggravate them more. No matter how many times you walk past they won’t recognised your face and will never give up, so be prepared for a gauntlet every time you go through the door. Either way, Chungking Mansions is an experience and for the price of the rooms, you really can’t complain. So for budget travellers the ‘Mansions’ is Hong Kong’s best (or only) choice of accommodation. It also houses many shops, money changers and restaurants dotted all over the rabbit warren building. So just to clear the record, ‘I don’t want a suit, I’m not your friend, who is Taylor? If I wanted a watch I would ask, why would I need a handbag, I don’t smoke, you’ve just watched me walk out of my room so why are you asking if I need one?! And, I defiantly don’t want any coke, especially not from you’…more on Hong Kong to follow…

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