Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Once upon a time in Hong Kong

The sun sets on Hong Kong harbour. The day’s memories rush back. Aching feet and long walks under the hot sun. Hong Kong is loud and chaotic. The MTR (their version of the Metro) is filled with people talking on their cell phones. It is not frowned upon as it is in Japan.

My first breath of Hong Kong air was green. It was at the Hong Kong Park and boy was that a fun thing to do. Spring time flowers, an aviary with colourful birds flying around the top of my head. I didn’t bother to read the names of the birds – they seemed inconsequential to me. The colour and their chirps filled my camera lens and ears.

Note that the Park is in the midst of what looks like skyscraper district. Reminds me a lot of Shinjuku in Tokyo but here the buildings seem to hold sway over everything they view.

I had expected to see the Museum of Teaware, which came strongly recommended. Unfortunately shut on Tuesdays but apparently the oldest Western building in all of Hong Kong.

I urged my feet onward to the Peak. Victoria Peak commands a superfantabulous view of the Hong Kong skyline. There were (what seemed like) at least fifty Spanish tweens chattering away waiting for the ride. The ride upwards in the Peak Tram was somewhat stomach churning. I was amazed that people were walking alongside the Tram in certain places given how steep the climb was.

Reaching the top, the first thing they send you through is the Peak Market – some ten souvenir shops all lined up in a row and selling exactly the same things, not forgetting the ubiquitous ‘I love Hong Kong’ tee-shirts too. You go up at least 6 floors before you hit the Sky Terrace but the view is absolutely gorgeous give or take the famous Hong Kong haze.

Another stomach churning ride followed downwards – really the Tram’s incline is insanely steep. My Lonely Planet tells me that when the two British gentlemen who built it, declared so, they were met with scorn and derision. It took them three years and in one swoop, they got rid of the sedan-chair option that had prevailed earlier.

A quick lunch and then Kowloon beckoned. Kowloon has been described as Hong Kong’s poor sister. But with her mass of humanity, cultural features and interesting old style architecture, she sure puts up a good fight.

Chi Lin Nunnery is my next stop. Set against high rises, this building with intricate carvings and tall, really tall Buddha statues gets most people on their knees. Bonsai gardens and lotus filled ponds add to the whole atmosphere.

I then walked into what I can only described as one of the most repulsive piece of architecture ever. Take a look at it and if your opinion differs, please let me know. The Nan Lian Garden was otherwise interesting. Rockery, bonsai, waterfalls but this piece of architecture really made it into a highlight for me.

Wong Tai Sin Temple was next. Colorful, with interesting statues, and people praying with joss sticks really kick started my first temple visit in Hong Kong.

I paid the $2 and entered a ‘Garden of Wishes’ to the haunting tunes of what sounded like a Chinese clarinet (Do those exist?).

Peace from the maddening crowd at the Temple. Nodded head at two really old Chinese men who walked by me who nodded back. One even said ‘Hi’ really loudly! :)

By now, I am regretting that I gave into my fashion sense and wore my pretty white chappals instead of sensible shoes for all the walking around I was doing. I was tempted to head back to the hotel but persevered and ended up having a great time walking around the markets of Kowloon. And she has plenty of those – a Goldfish Market, Flower Market, Ladies Market, Temple Street Night Market and a Bird Market too.

My trusty LP had suggested a route but I decided to wander around instead which turned out to be more fun. Am sure I missed a market or two but walking amidst the crowd and figuring where your best buy was going to be was a great experience too. The Bird Market was quite sad and err smelled to the nth degree. Birds in cages, chirping around were a direct contrast to where I stood in the morning, watching the birds flying around in a much more freer fashion.

Back at the hotel, Kowloon’s lights are coming on strong and steady. Soon the skyline will be filled with hundreds nay thousands of twinkling stars from the skyscrapers on the other side.


meow said...

Nice post, great pics.

Do keep posting, nice to see HK from your camera lens.

Sharninder said...

Repulsive ? Why ? The colors ?

Kits said...

Thanks meow and Sheri - yes because of the colours wonly!

Spikedelik said...

Pretty pics and a pretty post. All in all pretty good :D

quaintkal said...

Kirti! you are my Lonely Planet for HK now :)
mast likha hai..fill me in about your trip through this space! :)