Monday, 21 November 2011

Mon 21 Nov - Hong Kong

An easy morning today and we headed out at 9am. Half of the breakfast was consumed in the room (tea and weetabix / milk + banana) and espresso + triangular white sandwich with ham and cheese in the 7 Eleven across the street. Espresso, by the way, is surprisingly good, a small Italian style coffee in a tiny cup.
Today, we decided to take a ferry to one of the outer islands, Lamma Island. We decided to wander down to the tip of Kowloon where the Star Ferry leaves from and take it from there. The walk on the western shore of Kowloon is not very interesting and you have to negotiate more shopping centres and office buildings.
Anyway, we found out that the ferry goes from Central on Hong Kong Island and to get there is... Star Ferry, one of our favourite public transport systems of the world. They should send the guys working on the Manly Ferries over here to teach them a thing or so about how to run a ferry. Love it.

View from Star Ferry terminal in Kowloon towards Hong Kong Island

Di boarding the Star Ferry in Kowloon
Star Ferry at Central, Hong Kong Island
We had a chat to an older English couple (from Chester) who were taking the trip to Lamma Island again and recommended a 2 hour walk between where this ferry stopped (which is in a place called Sok Kwu Wan) to another village called Yung Shue Wan from where you can take the ferry back to Hong Kong Island. Good idea. Let's do it and have lunch in YSW before boarding to go back.
They clearly want people to use their multi travelling Octopus Card here, because the fare to Lamma Island was HKD19.80, exact money only that you put into a turnstile (return was HKD 16.10, same deal).

Di was beside herself when we got to Sok Kwu Wan because there was a line of seafood restaurants next to the wharf, all with fish tanks containing a variety of live fish and seafood.
Di and seafood tanks (not Dim Sum)
The walk is a good path (concreted all the way) up and over the saddle between two peaks of the island and we recommend it.  You can easily forget you're in Hong Kong.  Once over the top, you come down to the local beach area.  Although no one was swimming, there was plenty of activity with young people BBQ-ing in brick pits, yapping and enjoying the weather.

Yung Shue Won - note the dog having a 2nd breakfast among the garbage
Yung Shue Wan seemed to be a bit of a hippie town, given the appearance of some white inhabitants that we saw, colourful painted peace messages on rocks and concrete and of course, the "Bali Resort Hotel". Clearly, some squatters there too which necessitated the sign on the next image.
Sign in Yung Shue Won about squatting
The seafood restaurants in Yung Shue Wan along the water also screamed out tourist traps and looked nothing like the ones in Sok Kwu Wan. We hesitantly picked one eventually, but when the peanuts and chili sauce came out unannounced (and apparently cost HKD10), we walked out of there and instead went to a grottier place a little bit away from the water (overlooking a building which had some kind of connection with the police, a spinning washing machine doing its business out in the open and a couple of dogs looking for food scraps around our legs and tables. More our style I suppose... food was good and better value.

Back to Kowloon again on the Star Ferry again and a self portrait...
Not happy, John...
Back in Kowloon, we decided to go investigate train options to Guangzhou on Wednesday so we walked up to Hong Hum to check it out. Lots of footbridges from all directions around the station, including from the university which is just across the station. Nice station, all new and flash,
Entrance to the Cross Harbour Tunnel from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, next to Hong Hum Station.
After concluding the research, we took the MTR from Hong Hum back to Austin where our hotel is, which is only 2 stops away. Timed the door-to-door to get an idea how long it will take when we leave for Guangzhou on Wednesday, which was around 25 minutes.
When we got back towards our hotel, 2 bouncing Chinese girls came towards us and held up a camera. Of course, we thought that they wanted to have a photo of themselves taken, but no, each wanted a photo of themselves together with us on each side. Ha, we are a curiosity here. Probably some girls from a town or village in China where they do not get to see many white people.
Back to the hotel then to consume 2 cans of Yanjing Beer which unfortunately was nowhere near as good as the Hardin beer from last night (although still drinkable).

After a break, we went across the street Cafe De Coral, a bistro and American style eatery, which was both popular and very cheap (for something different).

After dinner, we wandered westwards on Austin Rd towards the area where we stayed last time (we stayed at Kimberley Hotel on Kimberley Rd back in 2007).
We found the tacky row of tourist trap restaurants on Knutsford Terrace, where you met by spruikers from every one of them and greeted in Italian or Spanish. It was the Spanish joint where we think that Di's credit card got swiped last time we were here (snowboard and imac were purchased some months after we left).

Other "attractions" from our walk was the Gimp...
Bring out the Gimp...
Back to the hotel relatively early for a cuppa and sleep. Good night.

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