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HONG KONG 1/1 2002   DIARY 1

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 Diary 1 2   Oversæt

We are going to Australia, but just take the opportunity to see Hong Kong on the way. It turns into three days on the way down, and three days on the way home.

1/1 2002. Waking up 5 minutes before the alarm clock, looking out the window and noticing it's still winter. It was very nice with a white Christmas, but now I'm ready for summer. Our three and seven kilo bags are packed, our homes packed together and then we head for unknown horizons.
Good time in Kastrup airport, actually a little too good time; the plane is delayed 20 minutes. Spending time shopping: Perfume, Hong Kong guide and of course coffee.
Quiet flight to London, where we get "the scenic in-flight" over Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament and the giant London Eye wheel.

Check-in has started as we land, so the shopping will be a short walk to the gate. We should have been through a security check, but I didn't feel like it. My 7 litre belly belt bag is stuffed with beard trims, computer, mobile phone, various chargers, camera, binoculars and 100 grams of clothes: Not suitable for illumination! Furthermore, the Danish SAS employee was not particularly enthusiastic about my collapsed passport, so I would not like to show that either. Sits for 5 minutes before boarding. Enough time to note that Copenhagen Airport is among the nicest, cleanest and friendliest in the world (knowing we are in London).

Walking out to the 747er with a small bunch of people; there is almost a whole row for everyone. There is good legroom and video screen for everyone with 50 channels of film, some of which have not yet reached Denmark. There are games and info channels, documentaries and more. Rikke's enthusiasm gets a further nod up, as the staff hand out menu cards. Choose from three three course hot menus and two varied breakfast menus. Socks, toothbrushes, eyeblinds and warm washcloths also increase the comfort.

After dinner, I watch a funny knight movie while Rikke relives Moulin Rouge. Then we read a bit about Hong Kong in the Lonely Planet book, so we know where and what to experience. Somewhere between Sct. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg  Rikke fall asleep, and I can't handle Ural.

After a somewhat sleepless night, we are awakened to delicious breakfasts and good comedy on the screen.
Land in 20 degree heat at 2pm, and take a bus to the centre of Hong Kong. Palm trees and other tropical plants flank the road. There are many building constructions on the way in; up to 50 floors and all with bamboo scaffolding!

The vast majority of finished houses are dreadful concrete bricks, homes and industry in a mellow mix. Huge port areas with large cranes and mountains of containers.
After walking for five minutes, we find the area we want to live in, and a sweet little lady asks, if we will stay with her. She leads us around the corner, into a building, up to the 10th floor and around many corners.
Clean room with private bath and toilet for only DKK 250 a day. It is actually quite reasonable according to Hong Kong conditions. Some of the hotels we could find on the map took 5-15,000 kroner! We probably got it cheap. Later we find out why...

Rikke is hungry, so we find ourselves in the city. We are very close to the centre of Kowloon, and the shops abound with photos, cell phones, jewellery, clothing (also the really expensive brands, but in children's sizes), souvenirs and restaurants. We get a delicious bowl of corn cob, chicken wings and a vegetable roll (OK, we were at KFC) for only 60 kroner for two. Masses of neon signs are lit as we return to the stuffed sidewalk. It's easy to photograph; I look straight above most locals.

We take a look at their clothes; it doesn't look pretty and sits even worse! Looking a bit for a GPS. I was a little shaken by the fact that there was only one model in Roskilde, and no less shaken, it's the same they offer me here! Can save 25-35%, but that's all.

We are very tired and at 19;30 we are back in the room. Then that's what we find out why it's so cheap: As we have bathed, two Pakistani men come in and say we have to leave their room. They have a nice receipt similar to ours. Now, Pakistani men are lucky to be gentlemen (- and small, and their luggage was not here, by the way), so they leave again. The phone rings and someone says noises at the other end. We are both sure it was a morning wake up until we see it is only half past one! I read more Lonely Planet, and then fall asleep again. God damn I hate the jet lag!

Sleeping badly, and suddenly it is nine o'clock. Amazing little noise from the main street that we can look down on. We find breakfast at an idyllic little snack with local colour - Starbucks Coffee! Muffin, sausage, croissant, yogurt and two large cafe au lait for 110 kroner. Generally, most things are very close to Danish prices - even the Hong Kong dollar! Walk down to the port and find Star Ferries immediately; old open ferries sailing us over to Hong Kong Island. Public transport from trams via buses to ferries goes smoothly and is affordable. The distances aren't that great either.

A small mile through the exclusive shops brings us to the Peak Tram. This is a cable tram, which in ten minutes bring us 552 meters up one, sometimes by a 50% increase. Great views down through the smog to the high-rise buildings and ports. The very top is covered by a large sculptural building, the upper floor of which is a Marché / Mövenpick restaurant. Here we are now writing postcards and diaries. Around the top there is unspoiled nature. Tall trees and dense scrub that look like laurels. Small birds sing merrily in the sun, while large gales patrol our heads.

We drive down with the Falk Group man to town again, and find the little cosy botanical / zoo. Beautiful cages with flowers around. Various monkeys, many beautiful birds, a six meter Burma python (lives in HK), a large swamp turtle, tree hedgehogs, leopards and mousse deer. Wander further down the town, get a cup of café latte and a sandwich and then find the Man Mo Temple. How old it is, you do not know, but it stood there when the British took over the island. Giant incense coils hang all over the ceiling, and despite the powerful electric fans, the air is thick. It's not exactly wrong as it says in the LP-book: If someone smiles at you, it's a Thai or Filipino! It's really hard to get a smile, even from the clerks. Apart from that, they are very sweet.

Then we reach the big Central Market. An error; a food market is only interesting in the morning. Now only the smell of fish and poultry is left. Looked for more at art, antique and souvenir shops before taking the ferry back to the mainland. Right next to the ferry dock is Harbor City 700; the largest mall, with its approximately 1000x150 meters and on four floors. We take a look at clothes and shoes, drink coffee for once, and then turn our noses home to see if we still have a room. I'm about to lose Rikke's water bottle as I'm in the toilet, but save it at the last second - at the expense of my camera. We will soon find another, and then at 1/3 price. Grab a great club sandwich and a baked potato with tandoori chicken on the way home. We still have the room! A hot bath, and head to bed at 10pm.

Suffering from serious jet lag; wakes up fresh and rested at 5am. Rikke is clearly not suffering from it! Morning food and coffee, the ferry over to Hong Kong Island, and up in a minibus that runs across the mountains to the other side of the island. We are the only passengers on the breakthrough trip across the pass and will be driven through.

Here is Ocean Park, which is a giant amusement area. We arrive five minutes before they open, so we can just park Rikke's big bag in the office. The entrance costs 150 kroner per person, but then everything is paid. Walking around looking; water park (without water - it's winter), goldfish pagoda (very rare species), bird theatre, dolphin school, amusement park, pandas, Amazon rainforest, dinosaurs, butterflies, 360o cinema and a funicular.

We take the tour up the mountain and 1500 meters beyond the hills. Coming to an even bigger area with seals, sharks, dolphin show (3300 seats), birds, coral reefs (200 species), flamingos, golden towers (2x60 meters), three-loop roller coaster, ferris wheel, water slide, 100 meter rotating platform view tower, and much more.
There are not many wild animals in the surrounding nature. No lizards nor geckos. Some White-eyes, bül-bulls, starlings, kites, gray sparrows and some butterflies. Like everywhere else we come, nobody smokes. Have seen five in total.

The park staff wear Santa hats, there are Santa Claus, Christmas trees and packages all over the place, accompanied by Christmas music! Watching dolphin / seal show, very neat but not impressive. The Athol is some small coral aquariums and two huge tanks, stuffed with corals and big fish. Here are devil manta ray at two meters, sharks, perch at just under two meters, moraine, tuna and all the others.

Rikke tries the biggest roller coaster, I don't bother! She is a bit white around the nose, when se returns. Lunch with views; 150 meters down to the sea and the entire South China Sea with container ships and islands. There is always a brown haze over town and water. Maybe it's dust from the Chinese steppes. A ride in the Amazon, around with another roller coaster, cinema with rocking seats, sledding and the arts, Santa Claus singing and playing - we have to move on.

We take the double decker bus back to our Star Ferry. A little more expensive than the minibus, but we cut shortcuts across the mountain, taking the ferry at dusk. Ten minutes by ferry costs 2.50 and they sail constantly. The backrests can be tilted to sit in the direction of sailing; the ferry does not turn. Going straight into Harbour City 700 for dinner, and then maybe shopping - just a little! Walking and looking at women's shoes; many have nice stilettos, just 4-5 numbers too big, so the tip of the toe is fluttering. The same goes for sneakers, why don't we know, but it looks funny. Found the very exclusive part of the centre: Gucci, Rudolph, Cerruti, Rolex, B & o, Dior, Mount Blanch, Givenchy, Ecco. Unfortunately, they do not have Rikke's size!

Finish off with the usual cup of coffee and count our money afterwards: Don't worry; there is four dollars left over, when we have paid the airport bus! They are used on a postcard for Elmer's Pub. Waiting ten minutes on the bus, and two hours on the plane! Well, it can be passed; they have Armani, Cartier, Burberry and the others at the airport. We could actually use a good bed better.

We continue our exploration of Hong Kong (after a lttle tour around Australia) in Diary 2

                   Diary 1 2    Map + Plan