The shining City

The shining City

I’m waiting. At Gate 103 in Terminal 3, Manila Airport. Two hours ago I said goodbye to Lim. My heart was racing. It was hard for me to realize that we really had to say goodbye. His heart was racing, too. Difficult to describe these feelings.

Both of us do not want to fall into sadness. We knew that we would have to split again, also this time.

Well, anyway, I could not or did not want to prepare for it. One last kiss and he got into the vehicle. A Uber taxi. We waved goodbye and gone he was.

Actually, I’ve been waiting more than an hour at Gate 101, from which the AirAsia flight to Hong Kong should have left at 15:35. Why should? Well, there was a delay. Initially the flight should have taken off at 14:50. Then this morning I received an e-mail, announcing a 45-minute delay. The last announcement called 16:30 as the time of departure. The airplane had to undergo some maintenance work. From where I stood, I could see that a technician turned some screws or whatever inside one of the turbines of the Airbus.

Finally, we took off at 18:00 sharp. The flight was rather turbulent because of the bad weather around Luzon Island due to a typhoon. I slept a little on the plane and listened to the music.

Arriving at the airport, I grab my luggage and immediately start looking for an ATM. Actually, I want to use one of the HSBC, but a lot of other people want to do that too. That’s how I find one of the “Bank of China”. Makes a decent impression on me. I’m looking for the Visa logo. It is there. Then I stick my card in the machine and hope that everything works out.

Why so careful? This card is the only option left for me to withdraw money. I either lost my other two cards in Manila or they were stolen there. I still do not know that since they were in my wallet, which apparently is gone. If everything goes according to plan, I will try to open a bank account in China to get a card and thus have a second opportunity to withdraw money, in case anything happens to my dear Visa credit card 😉

The ATM spits 2500 Hong Kong dollars (about 340 Swiss Francs). Great thing. Then it’s off to the bus terminal. There are hundreds of buses of the Cityflyer line. With them you can easily travel from the airport to almost any place in the city. The A21 bus seems to be very popular so I have to wait for some time to get on it. After about a one hours drive I get off at the Cameron Road bus stop and have to walk a few meters only, to find my accommodation, the Majestic 7 Guesthouse.

The owner and his wife are friendly, the room extremely small. I’ve prepared for that because living space is expensive in Hong Kong. My request for a room with window was granted. However, there is a sticky note attached to it saying that it is better not to open the window, as a rat is hanging around out there, hehe. Aha, even on the 7th floor. I want to avoid a situation like the one in India, where an animal like the above mentioned, used to visit my bathroom. After a short dinner in a restaurant around the block I lie down to sleep.

Todays’ Saturday I walk around town a bit. Hong Kong is divided into 4 areas: The Kowloon Peninsula, which I’m on, the New Territories north of it, the 240 islands off the coast, and finally the island of Hong Kong or Hong Kong Island. That’s exactly what I’m looking at from the Kowloon peninsula now. The air is very hazy unfortunately and clouds are hanging over the island. Nevertheless, the sight of the skyline on the other side is huge. And the air here is still better than the one in Manila.

I’m on my path to the subway. Called MTR – mass transit rail system here. One of the routes proceeds under the sea from the Kowloon peninsula to Hong Kong Island. There you can ride the Peak Tram to the top of the 550m high Victoria Peak from where you have a great overview of Hong Kong Island. Huge skyscrapers grew like gigantic mushrooms out of the green land.

I walk around a bit, enjoy the view and want to make my way back down after lunch. Just then I see how many people are waiting in line for the tram! Hundreds! To get on the tram up here, I had to queue for more than an hour already. I don’t want to do this a second time and therefore decide to walk down the hill at short notice. A few friendly tourists who reach the peak sweaty – they have come up the trail – show me the way.

Too late it comes to my mind to give them my return ticket for the tram, since I chose to walk down. But there is an Asian couple happy about the ticket, accepting it thankfully.

The path is very steep and I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to climb it in this heat. The people I meet along it are almost all wrapped in completely soaked sportswear and look as if they would soon fall over. Without me.

On the island, there are rise and slopes everywhere and so it is often a constant up and down. I walk through the busy streets and collect impressions and photos. My destination is the “Man Mo Temple”, apparently the oldest in the city. After some back and forth, I even find it.

After this trip, I go back to the peninsula with the MTR to rest in the hotel room for a while. It is currently extremely hot and humid in Hong Kong. Even hotter than in Manila. The temperatures rise to more than 36° C daily.

The clothes usually stick to your body and it tugs at my strength.

On Sunday, July 30, I’m going back to the waterfront to photograph the skyline of Hong Kong Island at night. Unfortunately, also this time the haze is in the air and it is difficult to get contrasts and sharp pictures.

The spectacular “Symphony of Lights” show, praised in the Lonely Planet guidebook, which illuminates some skyline buildings with the help of lasers and flood lights, is rather a joke. Totally unspectacular, well, from Suu and Dömes blog of their trip to China in 2014, I should have known, hehe.

The fact that this city here is part of China, you often do not really notice. There are chains like Watsons, Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King and many more. No internet censorship here. English seems to be widespread and vehicles drive on the “British” side of the road. Street names often remained from British colonial times: Cameron Road, Salisbury Road, Nathan Road and so on. Likewise many buildings or park names: Victoria Park, Prince Edward Station, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and many more.

In 1841, the British conquered the territory from the Chinese. They kept it until 1997, the year it went back to China. Many people here did not like that, since they grew up in another world and enjoy more freedom here than in China. The free-market system is also different from the more communist command economy in China. Well, changes are happening.

The British Empire no longer exists and China is growing. Who knows what Hong Kong will be like in 10 years?

One thing that struck me first in Hong Kong is the thousands of signs and banners that seem to hang everywhere. In the most chequered colors. Some are electric and glare, others are made of plastic or paper or anything else. It is virtually a sign forest. Not easy to keep track of when looking for something. It’s like an overwhelming flood of information.

Yesterday, Monday, I visited the extremely interesting and commendable “Museum of History”. Wow, what a museum! It is huge and brings you the history of Hong Kong and its nature – after all 70% of the area consists of forest – closer in various ways. Massive photos on walls, videos, models, exhibits, pictures, statues, reconstructed rooms and buildings, simply spectacular. That’s how a museum must be!

 

I can hardly stop raving about this museum! It’s just amazing and even people who consider a museum boring would be surprised here!

Later I cross the harbor with a ship of the famous Star Ferry line to drive from the peninsula to the island of Hong Kong. This gets you even closer to the huge buildings.

Much is happening here in Hong Kong. The streets are busy and seemingly thousands of tourists are on the way. Mostly Asians. But the streets are not as congested as for example in Manila. A trip with the MTR in the rush hour traffic is no comparison to the stuffing and crowding, which prevails in the capital of the Philippines.

Tomorrow I’ll visit the mother country. Not my mother country, but the one of Hong Kong: China. I’m curious already!

3 Replies to “The shining City”

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