香港日記 Hong Kong Diaries. Part One.

The view from our room on the 21st floor. 
Thursday 17 October
While I’ve been sleeping, darkness has given way to a milky light. Some forty thousand feet or so below me, mile upon mile of snow-covered peaks rise up like islands through a sea of clouds. Siberia, I realise with a thrill. In a year filled with potent reminders about the brevity of life, Tom’s decided to make one of my long-held dreams of visiting the Far East come true by surprising me with this holiday. So let’s gloss over my initial reaction which, because I’m always worried about money, was as cold as those mountain tops and skip to the present as the plane prepares to land. The South China Sea is spread beneath the wings and I realise that after years of dreaming about it that very shortly I’ll be in Hong Kong.


Success! Our bags have arrived and we’ve been given a free map of the city. Now all we have to do is locate the minibus to the hotel. We’re mysteriously sporting stickers emblazoned with a large orange ‘k’ issued by a desk clerk who has pointed us in the direction of a seating area and told us to wait. For what, we’re not sure. Presently a small man in a blue and gold waistcoat bows neatly in front of us, tells us to follow him then takes off across the airport at a cracking pace. At an entirely random spot he stops abruptly, points at a petite young woman also wearing a blue and gold waistcoat and instructs us to ‘now follow her!’. ‘Follow me!’ she adds for good measure before haring off into the distance. Eventually, after a failed attempt to board the wrong bus and getting ticked off for it, we’re on our way. 


Hong Kong airport is situated on reclaimed land some twenty-five minutes’ drive from our hotel in Mong Kok. As we draw closer to our destination, the endless skyscrapers give a snapshot of how some eight million people crowded into such a small area are accommodated. I’m particularly struck by lines of laundry hanging from every window – and later, walking around, I also learn to avoid the drips from them! 

There’s a particular smell here too, a bit like the first smell of land when you’ve been offshore in a small boat, a musky, musty, slightly spicy scent with a hint of sewer which soon permeates our clothes and infuses every taste of food. 

We check in at our hotel, shower and head off to explore the immediate vicinity. The temperature’s lovely, t- shirt weather, and, to my relief - since I’m always slightly wary in unfamiliar territory in case I inadvertently offend some local custom - everyone’s too busy minding their own business to worry in the slightest about us. The local restaurants are, however, bafflingly Chinese and some of the street food looks a little too heavy in beaks, feet and heads for my taste so we take the easy option, eat in the hotel restaurant and wonder what the next day will bring…

Comments

Jules Wake said…
Wow Chris, thanks for sharing. I went to HK 18 years ago, when they still had the old airport. Flying in there you could see the washing on the balconies up close and personal.

Enjoy the T shirt weather and have fun!
Maggie Christie said…
Wow you lucky things! I really enjoyed reading about your arrival. You paint such a vivid picture - I can't wait to read the next instalment!

I had to laugh at your reaction to your surprise though - I did the same when presented with a puppy on Christmas Eve (but only briefly!)
Chris Stovell said…
I've heard that the previous airport made for a particularly exciting landing, Jules ... I'm relieved we didn't have to do it!

Aw, Mags, it was brilliant. Just as well because after my initial reaction, Tom's never going to do that again!!!
Mandy K James said…
So where is the next bit? You can't keep me hanging like this! Great you had such a wonderful time. Sounds fabulous. xx
Laura E. James said…
What an experience! It's always the heat/temperature that hits first, followed by the light. If I ever make it to Hong Kong, I shall watch out for the drips - don't want them hitting me at all. xx
Kathryn Freeman said…
I'm with Jules - when I went to Hong Kong it was so long ago we almost landed on the balconies. I love the way you describe the smell Chris 'with a hint of sewer' - prefect! Welcome back - I'm very much looking forward to the next instalment.
Chris Stovell said…
Mandy, it was - even better than I expected. xx

Laura, you really don't! Once dripped on by dubious washing, twice shy! xx

Kate, thank you! You and Jules had a far more hair-raising introduction to HK than me!


Christina said…
I too have landed on the old airport - truly terrifying! But Hong Kong is wonderful and I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip :-)
Unknown said…
What an experience - look forward to reading more about chicken feet and sewer smells!
Liz Harris said…
It sounds fascinating, Chris.

I'm reading with particular interest as stopping in Hong Kong will be one of our options when we go to Australia next year. I look forward to the next instalment.
Chris Stovell said…
Christina, I'm still not sorry that I missed that particular experience! Oh, it was a wonderful trip - I'm so glad (now!)that Tom booked it!

'Unknown', it was unforgettable for so many reasons... including the episode when I unwittingly added to the sewer smell!

Oh, Liz, I'd certainly recommend it. We met with nothing but great kindness, the people there made us so welcome.
I loved your rich descriptions of Hong Kong - and I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time!

I can't wait to read the next instalment, either.
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, Beverley, for your kind comment... you realise you're encouraging me now!
Janet Gover said…
You're bringing back a lot of memories for me Chris - I lived in HK for two years. Met my hubby there. We were both working on the same project. He'd come from the UK and I had come from Australia. It's interesting to think how much must have changed since we left there - eeek - 14 .. no 16 (18?)years ago.
Chris Stovell said…
Aw, that's lovely, Janet. My impression - and obviously I've nothing to compare it with - that it is a different place now, 'that' airport you've all talked about has gone for a start. I absolutely loved my visit there, though, and fell in love with Hong Kong.
Lins' lleisio said…
I have that reaction when Jon spends any more than £10.00 on me, so would have had apoplexy too - but often it's so worthwhile when your hand is forced. After all you can't take it with you.

I've never been to Hong Kong but your descriptions transport me there.
Chris Stovell said…
Lins, it's so true. I would never have gone if Tom hadn't booked it without telling me and now I have all those memories forever. Worth every penny. Cx
Chanpreet said…
How wonderful! I'm so glad you got to on your dream trip. Do let us know what delicacies you try, even if they are still too attached to their body parts!

Chris Stovell said…
Chanpreet - I will get on to that! Mind you, my head's spinning with impressions from the trip so I'm in danger of becoming a HK bore!

Popular Posts