What’s going on? People have stopped bowing at me and they’re no longer as polite. Everyone speaks English. Plug sockets are 3 pinned. Menus consist of non fish items. The traffic lights don’t beep to fun tunes. I have no complimentary pyjamas in my hotel room. Cars no longer look like boxes with wheels. There’s not a single umbrella in sight. Everyone has put on a few stones. Chocolate bars are no longer sized for 3 year olds.
Yes, it can only mean one thing. we’ve left Japan! We arrived in Hong Kong this afternoon after a month long stay in Japan. I have to say of the countries we’ve visited I was saddest to leave Japan. It really started to feel like home after 1 month, despite the culture being so different to what we’re used to. I cannot speak highly enough of the people there, they are on a different level when it comes to hospitality and general politeness. As for the country itself, it was both of our favourites so far. It’s not somewhere many people consider for a holiday and if we wasn’t travelling the world, I doubt either of would have ever gone but I’d urge you to consider it.
Finding our hotel was a bit of an ordeal when we arrived this afternoon. We’re staying in the Chungking Mansions which is a 17 story building in the heart of Hong Kong. It’s really popular with travellers as rooms are available at around £20 per night, which in central Hong Kong is ridiculously cheap. Rooms are far from ‘mansions’ though, ours has a double bed with a ‘all in one’ type shower/toilet combo wet room thingy. It’s clean and has air con though so I can’t complain. The building is mostly residential, apparently around 4000 people live here. On top of that there are nearly 200 different hostel companies and between them there are about 2000 rooms, it’s a big place! The downside is the entrance to hotel, you have to go via this underground market type place. It’s full of shady looking people mainly selling mobile phones, knock off bags and Indian food (which looked like it had been there for days!). I must have had 4 sim cards shoved in my face in the space of 2 minutes, I must look like someone who urgently needs to make a call. Most of the stalls are owned by Indians or Africans and their pushy sales techniques were noticeable outside of the hotel too, there are lo many annoying people trying to sell you crap everywhere. Something we didn’t experience at all in Japan.
Missing Japan didn’t last long though, as soon as we headed to the waterfront we were blown away by the Hong Kong skyline. I don’t have words to describe how amazing it is, without doubt the best skyline I’ve ever seen. The buildings are all lit up in different colours and many are animated with lasers or large screens. At one end you can see the financial area with HSBC stealing the show and to the other side all the tech companies are standing together, the likes of Samsung, Panasonic and Hitachi shine brightly. The fact that it’s so colourful makes for a great view as the river in front reflects beautifully.
Also close to the riverfront is an exhibition of gigantic lanterns in the shape of rabbits and dolls. I know this sounds a bit weird so it’s easier to show you:
After sitting and taking in the view for a while we had a wonder around the harbour area along the walk of fame. Like Hollywood, this was a collection of famous actors handprints and at the end there was a life size Bruce Lee statue (the only actor I knew of!). On our way to try and find something for dinner we just so happened to end up in a street full of designer shops that seemed to only be driven down by brand new Porsche 911 Turbos. As you can probably guess, we didn’t buy anything! But hats off to the merchandisers, the shopfronts were some of the most extravagant I’ve seen. This part of Hong Kong oozed luxury, the shops, hotels and restaurants all looked fit for the rich and the whole street was even lined with Orchids. Rich we are not though, so on we went looking for some grub!
There were endless choices of restaurants but to try and cool down a bit (it’s so humid here!) we opted for a food court in a mall. At £4 for roasted duck and rice I think I’m going to like it here 🙂