Tuesday, 30 September 2014

First Impressions - Hong Kong

Three words to describe our first day in Hong Kong . . . humid, hot, hilly.

In several words . . . the kindness of a stranger; the largest spider I have ever seen; a quiet, beautiful walk along the Morning Trail.

Beautiful little bird
Ginormous spider - about 5-6" long!
View from Morning Trail
We had a good flight to Hong Kong. I highly recommend premium economy. Not that much more expensive than economy but worth it! 

Got thru HK airport very easily. From the airport we took the Express Train to Central Station and, after only a couple wrong turns, managed to find the escalators to take us part way up the hill. (There are a lot of escalators in this city!) Then there was the hunt for the tiny little numbers for the building we were looking for. 

The new Arc'teryx duffles work okay as back packs for a short distance but by the time we found our apartment and got up the seven flights of stairs I was ready to set it down. 

For the first time ever, we rented an apartment through airbnb. We'd gotten all the directions from the owner a couple weeks ago and were to find the key under the doormat. 

No key! Are you friggin' kidding me?!?!? Sweat was dripping off my face and onto the front of my shirt and we'd barely slept in the past 24 hours. 

But it gradually all worked out. We knocked on the neighbour's door and he was amazing! Nam called the numbers we had for the owner and her "helper." No answer at either but we left message hoping someone would call us back. Nam had another suite in the same building so he let us wait there. He brought us a bowl full of grapes to eat and ran back and forth between suites to deliver messages once the owner got our message. It was about an hour later when someone showed up to let us in. Thank you Nam for your incredible kindness to a couple of strangers! 

After totally crashing for the night we were awake early and shortly after 7 am were on the tram heading to the top of Victoria Peak. The 3 km walk took us a couple hours as we stopped often to look at the views, examine the big spiders and their webs, try to take photos of the flittering birds, watch some new-to-us bugs, read the information signs about all the different kinds of trees and check out a few little side trails.

Panorama from the Morning Trail looking down on Central Hong Kong with Kowloon across the water. 

In an attempt to avoid the heat of the day, we spent the afternoon checking out the interesting architect of some of the downtown air conditioned buildings. The most interesting was the HSBC building with its 170-foot atrium, mirrors at the top of the atrium and the longest freely supported escalators in the world. The building is reputed to have the best feng shui in the city due to its unobstructed view of the harbour and its location "on the meeting point of five auspicious 'dragon lines.'"

Inside of the HSBC building
An Inukshuk doing Tai Chi
(Well, ok, it's not an Inukshuk but that's what it looks like to me!)
Building reflection
Fortunately, we haven't yet seen or been affected by the Occupy Central crowds (and riots) but there is certainly a lot of police presence, especially walking by Government House on the way to the tram.

They definitely do not want anyone going over this wall!