The last part of our holiday, and what, in many ways, turned out to be its climax, was a stop-over in Hong Kong. The geography of Hong Kong with its bay and surrounding islands is breath-taking. The variety of environment in such a small area was surprising. The markets and the neon streets were every bit as exotic as I expected. The weather was hazy but very comfortably warm. We simply had a great time.
Our first day was dominated by a visit to the botanical gardens and then a trip on the funicular to The Peak. From there we could grasp the overall layout of the city. We had our first trip on the Star Ferry across the bay (costing all of 50p for a return crossing) and visited the markets of Kowloon.
Our sense of smell was assaulted by the food markets. Our Western sensibilities were challenged by the goldfish market where thousands of gorgeous tropical fish hung in little plastic bags and the aquariums were full with more fish than water. The piles of sometimes inexplicable stuff for sale in the acres of the ‘Ladies Market’ and ‘Night Market’ were incredible. Neon was everywhere; it screened the scruffy buildings above the street level activity and added to the feeling of frenzy. The markets stoked up our every sense.
The second day was calmer as we travelled out to one of the islands and a 6 kilometre cable car ride over forest covered mountains to The Big Budda. The views were again wonderful and the Budda was certainly big.
We travelled back by ferry via a small fishing village and again experienced amazing food shops and their pungent smells (especially the drying fish swim bladders).
Our final morning was spent on the top of trams criss-crossing Hong Kong Island. A brave lunch in a cavernous restaurant filled with a couple of hundred Chinese diners followed. The Chinese are a much more reserved – almost stern – people relative to Australians (who were incredibly friendly). However, we were so thankful that our struggles with the multiple choice tick-box ordering system were resolved by the proactivity of a very helpful fellow customer. Lunch was not only tasty but a great experience of humanity in a foreign country.
We left Hong Kong after a final Star Ferry return trip in very good spirits. For the first time in my memory I had no feeling of dread of work email hell as a holiday drew to a close. Nothing bad had happened in over three weeks of holiday (therefore meeting my base level of contentment). Indeed, every day had held lovely surprises and the promise of something great next.
Home being next also felt fine.