Tuesday 22 September – Hong Kong
Faced with less than a day to see the city, we booked a tour, which started with the tram up Victoria Peak. The weather was cooler and the views spectacular, despite the haze. Next stop was the southern side of Hong Kong Island, to the floating fishing village of Aberdeen Harbour. A cheery old lady in a sampan took us for a short cruise around this harbour, which is also a typhoon shelter. Fisher families live on houseboats in the harbour rather than in the multi storey government apartments that line the shore. A great deal of very expensive maritime toys also filled the marinas.
The guide’s patter turned to industry, and one of the industries that survives in HK is jewellery. Funnily enough, here we found ourselves at a jewellery store, with the obligatory ‘factory tour’ – a few chaps working away for show – and a show room filled with eager sales folk. Actually this lot were not so pushy as other similar traps I’ve found myself in. I managed to resist the gaudy baubles on show, but Maria succumbed to the charms of ‘Ben’, who combined a boyish charm with practicing his English to sell her a sparkling ‘pretty’.
Next stop was the resort-like southern beach suburb of Stanley, with its market of assorted tatt – clothing, souvenirs, luggage etc. Bought a couple of very jolly silk caps for the next Chinese banquet. And a Mao cap complete with red star.
Back at the hotel I popped across to the mall for a bite to eat, then we freshened ourselves up for our final agent call, one that was just near the hotel in Mongkok. Sales call completed, we headed to the other side of Nathan Road and a couple of streets back to the so-called ‘Lady Market’ – a street market of more of the usual tatt. I was in the market for a cheap watch as mine had decided to stop working on day one – so found a ying & yang plastic model for HK$16 (about AUD$2.50). A day later, as I write this, it’s still going. I also found a Mao shoulder bag(!) to go with my cap – and to hold the little red book that I fully intend to acquire in Beijing.
Having left my jacket in Dad’s car I fully intended to buy something in HK, but time was against me. A likely looking department store (a branch of the Swedish high-street fashion chain H&M) proved to have things that were a bit too fancy for the Gobi desert – and only sizes for Asian schoolboys. Naturally there was a supermarket lurking in the basement of the mall, so no more visits to 7-11 stores.
After a wee rest, we traipsed around Nathan road and some of the side streets looking for somewhere to eat, trying a couple but deciding on entering that we didn’t like the look. Eventually we spied a chain outlet and almost despairing of finding anything better, found our way up to its first floor. It didn’t look likely – food OK, but plastic plates and too much laminex.
Then I spied a sign for a seafood restaurant, which turned out to be on the two floors above. It was very much a local place, with very limited menu in English. The staff had equally limited English, but with the help of a menu we ordered up a very acceptable feast. We were kept entertained by watching other tables nearby as they had family feasts and enjoyed cooking their hotpots. An enjoyable adventure and the food was good.