This is the documentation of my time spent in Hong-Kong, China or not? This is an inspiring city filled with those who know what they want from life. At this point I am currently doing tours from Hong-Kong china to perth
28.02.2013 - 05.03.2013 33 °C
It was 3pm at Manchester airport when I was saying farewell to my Mum and Dad for the next six months for my tour across the globe. I was upset to say goodbye for such a long time to say the least. But my drive to get out there repelled any doubts in my feeble young mind.
That was of course until it all went down hill from there. I apologize for the bad typing at this point as I balance my laptop on my left knee and a bowl of noodles on my right. At the point of starting this I am currently sat in Hong-Kong airport for my flight back to Perth. But going back to the start of this journey. I made my way through customs and on to the plane after pining at things far too expensive to buy. I had my first flight from Manchester to London; sort of like an hour ride airbus kind of thing. Alas, this didn't turn up until at least 15 minutes after it was due to leave. Around 7pm I was on the plane to London when the pilot announced Heath row was far too busy to land, this resulted in the pilot doing three circles around the airport until he saw fit to land. Soon after it was 19:30pm and I was still in the airbus on the runway, with only 20 minutes to the right terminal, but my flight to Hong-Kong was due to leave in 15.
I passed through a series of doors, with worry decaying at my skinny pale face.
Either the attendant had a sixth sense or she felt sorry for the poor shambles of a man in the yellow hoodie. She pointed up the stairs and said "That way sir to gate C66 sir". Relieved as ever I began walking up the escalator, that was until she said "well, good luck with that." How reassuring; at which I began running/tripping up the escalator. On the second floor it became apparent to me that London Heathrow had became a typhoon; with clouds of whirring faces and fleeting luggage trolley's. For some reason my first instinct was to run up to the nearest cleaner to ask for directions; despite there being a help desk mere meters away. Maybe it was because he looked like Morgan Freeman because of his freckled bonce and smooth Memphis accent, that humored my child like mind. Regardless I asked the freckled look-a-like how to get to gate C66, with which he replied "Oh hell no man you gotta' go all the way down there and then catch a train, two stops along you wanna' get off that thing."I didn't know whether to laugh at the context and grab a photo with him or cry at the lengthy directions.
Without so much as a thank-you I began sprinting to gate C66, it was at this moment I remembered that I had cleaned up my shoes a few days before. So well that they turned the tiled floor of London Heathrow into my own personal ice-skating rink. In a few hours I had gone from having a shred of independence to the image of looking like Boris Johnson on 'Dancing on Ice', I could genuinely hear folks wetting themselves at my poor attempt of fighting the floor with my feet. The 100m stretch was done with, now it was just the train to go and I was Hong-Kong bound. That was if the middle aged woman to my right would stop using the train doors as a back scratch.
Whilst checking in hours earlier with an eccentric Indian man named Kash; he allowed me to choose between a seat with legroom at the exits, or at the very back of the plane with my own row. Of course I chose the row to myself which I was only dreaming of as I shoved the middle aged scratching post out the way of the train doors; making my escape onto the flight to Hong-Kong. Only of course to find the man I now know to be as John, making the most of my 'V.I.P' seating offer; thanks Kash. I crammed my larger than life backpack into the overhead storage, knowing full well it was too large, along with my camera kit which I had smuggled in for obvious photo opportunities. This would have been good if it weren't five rows down, the plane was full of cam' clicking tourists who had risked a beating when passing my overhead locker, especially in my frame of mind. Disturbing ownership aside, I had finally sat down; cooped up with the one named John. I heckled "two Jack Daniels and coke"! to the flight attendant as did John on the G&T's. We had both apparently had a shocker of a transfer flight; and both sought comfort in alcohol abuse on the next. I made the most of that flight after my triathlon at Heathrow, after drinking a reasonable amount of alcohol I spoke alot with John. As it was an eleven hour flight I didn't want to piss off my neighbor through small talk and hogging the arm rest. Turns out we both had a huge passion for travelling, and shared the same hate for opportunistic gondoliers in Venice. Hours later I found myself in a bit of a hangover whilst passing over Russia; the sun was peeking over the horizon. As it glistened on the ice pack on my head I shot five rows down for my camera in the overhead storage. Alas, after I took my camera to the cabin window I couldn't help notice; this marvelous opportunity of natures finest at 10,000 feet was snubbed by the bloated demeaning herd which are the 'business class'. Instead the larger males would be seen rolling down the blind on the window, reach for the air hostess's 'sweet meats' and grab another whisky, which is what they most probably payed an extra £3000 for. Below is a couple of shots of the sun through the cabin window.
It was now 5pm HK time after a long flight. But lo and behold, Hong-Kong was in sight; so I thought, couldn't really see it for the smog.
After leaving the plane the first thing I was met with was the heat, then the news that my baggage was still at Manchester airport. A bittersweet symphony but luckily I had my hand luggage and camera. Luckily for the flight attendant despite it not being her fault, I was too jet lagged to even care, it wasn't the end of the world and I still had my camera. I gave my relative Micky a call who I was staying with in HK, who didn't seem to pleased in the fact my luggage hadn't came with me; as we had arranged to meet straight from the airport. My floating, lagged and limp body passed through arrivals and to the baggage where I served them some slang outburst of annoyance. Turns out I wasn't the only one, an entire cloud of British tourists seemed to swarm around me and chant in unison as only the British could; "This int' right love!" or "what a crock of b*llocks!".
I had landed in Hong-Kong 5 minutes ago and had already started an angry mob of my own. Soon after, it had been arranged to have the luggage dropped off at my relatives the day after on the next HK flight. Indeed it did get delivered and I was indeed naked after a nap when the poor lady delivering the case arrived; at first I had answered the phone, not knowing it was the doorbell ringing. I almost signed her disgusted face instead of the delivery receipt. The lost luggage caused a number of issues to me as I needed my tripod for long exposure shots of the HK skyline, the tripod was in the case for the majority of my tour, the reason behind why I have a little number of photographs. Micky called me whilst at the desk and after a basic explanation of the process he said "Right, I'm up there now", the call ended abruptly.
Dazed and puzzled, I cooled down and headed for the arrivals exit hall, where a sea of cards with names on for doctors, clients, and other working class folk wavered at the crowds of arrivals passing through, non of them were Micky. I began to get increasingly worried as the sim in my phone had failed to work. The info desk could barely understand my request of making a call to a relatives phone, a phone that wouldn't connect to their mobile. This went on until I remembered that my laptop was in my hand luggage, using my noodle I bought a bog standard brew and sat in the cafe for the free wi-fi. It kept weaving in and out of signal but I managed to Skype Micky's other half, my aunt Lindsey. This triangle of bad connections went on for another hour whilst I paced up and down the airport for different exits which Micky might have been waiting at. The first of his instructions were to go to the bus station; bay 28. That would have been great if they wouldn't have refused me access, twice. The second option was to catch a blue taxi to 'Discovery Bay Tunnel', these instructions came in the form of my parents on Skype as I had lost contact with Lindsey, but they could reach her; what a mess of a four way conversation. After three hours or so of being abandoned not daring to leave Hong-Kong airport, I would have gladly tried my luck with riding a donkey to Micky's apartment. I stumbled to the taxi rank, my feet dragging with my new shoes squeaking, my infamous yellow jacket dragging along the floor as it collected the majority of the litter and dirt from the airport. But there it was, like a beautiful blue beacon; beckoning me towards it. Getting in without caution I had finally left HK airport and into the city. Sets of skyscrapers, towers of flats touching the clouds and neon signs blurred by in a haze of greenery and concrete.
After what seemed like a cut scene from back to the future, I was dropped off at Discovery Bay Tunnel and threw the driver a huge tip for pulling me from my nightmare, or so it seemed. There was a long stretch of tarmac with thick forestry at either side, with the loud humming of crickets. In the middle lay a structure which resembled something of a toll booth with no attendant, regardless I walked through with the notion that this must be the place Micky was meeting me at the end of the road. At this point I was glad I didn't have to lug my suitcase around, for an evening the heat was unbearable. I got about half a mile down after a number of buses had passed with no intention of stopping at the wave of my sweat soaked hand. The humming of crickets grew louder as I drifted towards the center of the road away from both sides of the forestry, I remember thinking 'this was it; this would just be my luck that I were to be eaten by some jungle cat after my hectic ordeal, snapped apart like a twiglet'. Before this thought had time to process into true fear it was given a firm push by a sign in front of me, which read in bold writing 'Absolutely no walking through Discovery Bay Tunnel'. Below that I presume it read the same in Chinese writing which made it look ten times more aggressive. Who should pull up behind me as the sweat grew but an officer of the law, who looked as though he were to tazer me then and there as he reached for something on his belt; the radio crackled with an angry female voice, most probably the attendant I didn't see at the toll booth. He explained that it wasn't a toll booth, it was a security check point, Micky had only gone and bought a place in the most fortified district of Hong-kong; a place that does not allow cars, only buses.
I was just happy I didn't get swatted like a fly with the tazer, although I'm guessing he ordered me to head back to the checkpoint from his hand gestures. I ran with my laptop bag hitting my backlegs and my camera swinging to and fro. Upon arrival a taxi pulled up, a large man exited with two bags, but no sign of Micky. I sat at the bus stop to the tunnel, only hoping that my friend would be on the other side waiting. As I was rifling through my wallet, observing the colourful luminous currency, a jolly booming voice came from behind me; its owner a trendy cockney man by the name of Micky. "Finally lad, where you been at?". At that moment he was the depiction of my guardian angel; holding a bag of clean designer clothes he had bought me at the instance of knowing my luggage had disappeared. We got on the bay 28 bus which had looked entirely different to the one I had try to catch.
Regardless of my 'once grey now black t-shirt', we headed straight for Mickey's local to meet some of his pals from the area that he had met in his 9 months there. heckles and cheers filled the seaside bar; Daz was the first, who greeted me with; "here he is!I'm going to get you absolutely c*nted!". The second Jimmy and the third Andy who said "so here's the lad who takes 4 hours to catch a bus!" these heckles were complimented with a series of pints, shots of tequila, and brandy soaked flamed chicken. I had gone from a HK slumdog to feeling like a beach side big shot. 'Hemmingway's by the Sea' was their local and any element of a pub back home with a rustic aesthetic for example was dashed into the sea. The air was filled with smells of fine cuisine, red and orange lamps lit the shoreline; accompanied by laughter from locals enjoying the atmosphere, whilst in the distance you could see the mountains surrounding the bay in every direction. The night went on until I couldn't drink or eat anymore, we spoke of aspirations and how each of them had made it here to Hong-Kong. A-lot of these stories were enough to take any man from his homeland to move out there. Daz and Jimmy trained local children how to play football; the place in which they achieved this they could point out from where we were sat, just across the harbor. Micky and Andy were both colleagues in the same company.
The tequila and warm air were a lethargic combination; so we headed back to the flat. The walkways to the building were lined with huge trees, leaning over the harbor. They were covered in thousands of lights leading throughout the streets, the closest I got to this at home was either lights at Christmas or a homeless guy with a flashlight swinging it around profusely. I had heard songs about Hong-kong, mainly from my all time band the Gorillaz. The lead sang about being 'up on the 19th floor' which strangely was the floor of Micky's apartment. Childish coincidences aside, my drunken head graced the pillow with a huge thud after staring out at the view until my eyes grew tired. Micky laughed and stumbled to bed after trying to give me a tour of the view; but I was far gone for conversation. Though I remember having a smile on my face at the thought of what was waiting our there for me tomorrow in Hong-Kong.
I woke up firstly to a view over HK when the sun was rising between the hills at the end of the harbour.
What meant to be a hunt for an English breakfast turned out to be observing and photographing strange delicacies at the local supermarket. Fishes were kept in tanks like an aquarium and sent straight to the chopping board; chickens feet diced and packaged like corn on the cob. I admired the way the Chinese were so efficient, but they could keep their efficiences or delicacies all for themselves. I dabble in cultures of other countries, but not chicken feet. The majority of packaging in shops all seem to bear bright and colorful lettering with crazy characters scrawled all over them which had no relation to the food itself; that would be great, if the majority of the population were on speed or LSD.
The day got better after we resorted to eggs Benedict by the beach; Micky had booked me in the cable cars to get a 360 view over Hong-Kong, but more importantly to see the 'Tian tan Buddah' and the temple of a thousand Buddhas which I had pined over so much at home. I was still aggressively jet lagged but I could think of nothing more inspiring. I had researched the village in the hills and marveled at the Buddah; seemingly sat on the side of the hill. We made our way into the cable car with little more than a camera, and a large family of Asians. The fog was so thick passing up there that for a moment you could imagine you were passing through the heavens themselves, everything had an eerie white glow. I could picture this Buddah picking us off the line like an ant; like I said I was extremely jet lagged at this point. But there it was, one of the biggest inspirations to me in all of Hong-Kong, to say I'm an agnostic at least; this was definitely one for the books. Below you can see the photos of the Tian Tan Buddah, using the hillside as it's personal beanbag. There were hundreds of different Chinese shops, boasting a gallery for chopsticks, fine Chinese cuisine; religious artifacts and memorabilia. Incense sticks the size of lampposts licked the air like a smoky car freshener; the temples were lined with thousands of flowers and lanterns. Above all else, I couldn't believe the sheer size of this gigantic Buddah; as though some giant taxi driver had dropped his lucky charm on the hills.
It was a pity that it was raining a fine mist the whole time, but it didn't bother me one bit; the only thing I was soaking in was the culture of China, which is what it's all about. I apologize to those who are only following this blog but I can't upload the entire album from Hong-Kong. These can be seen on my page; addressed subtly at the end of this entry. It was the first time Micky had been up in the hills of HK so it was new for him, whilst we strolled through, gazing at the stone monuments of warriors and dragons, we were already discussing what we would be up to that night. Although talks of alchohol and adultery made me feel bad as I took a shot of those praying to the Buddah whilst doing so. I passed a tree filled with wind chimes and fruits, each branch bearing a wish from travelers and general quotes which you can see below.
The first I had saw read: "True Happiness".
Before I knew it, my tour of the sky land Chinatown was coming to a descending end back into HK central. The buddah drifted away into the mist along with the large loud Asian family who had luckily got the cable car behind us. With a sigh of relief and exhaustion I dug my feet into the cushions opposite; and watched the skyscrapers flow by. To see HK from such an angle it almost looked like some sort of child's play set; the doodled runway with toy planes, small lakes for puddles with rich blue waters, and the towers of flats looked like lego strewn all over the landscape.
It was now 6pm, and with the same elegant charm, my head hit the pillow; it was only till the point at 7pm when the poor luggage lady appeared that night before we headed out to HK central for our night out. As cars and such had been disbanded in Discovery Bay, our only way into the city was to take the ferry, these were apparently an average vessel for the everyday commuter. It looked like first class compared to the transport which is accompanied by a gallery of used chewing gum on the buses. Night had fallen and the HK skyline was lighting up the entire shoreline; the buildings would flex with light as though showing off to one another as patterns of light scattered across. I regret to inform you I have no photo documentation of such a luminous sight as there was no point in which I could, the ferry was rocky and it was straight into the trendy bars from there to meet Micky's colleagues. Besides of course a few shots below.
We went from bar to bar, cocktail to cocktail, with a heavy contrast between each. The first being a Hawaii themed one, then a dark glossy bar where a chap named Daina had tried so hard to hide his gender. A few drinks eventually came to me jumping on stage asking the lead singer to play my all time favorite track, Mr Bright side. From what I can recollect I had also done the worm several times previously. With promises of singing it and explaining how much he enjoyed it to, I waited as he said until he returned, but he didn't. I turned around only to find poor Micky slumped on the stool where me and his friends had put him, gripping my camera as though it were precious cargo, I must say to that extent the camera did pretty well not to end up on the market the next morning. I grabbed Micky, took him to the nearest taxi, and headed home; we had a great night and I had met some fantastic locals in the big HK city, but we were drunk, so very very drunk. It was at this point we had somehow managed to land back at the start tunnel to Discovery Bay; I think the woman at the booth recognized me from the night before and it wasn't soon after me and Micky were joined by a short arrogant chap with what I thought was a prostitute under each arm. But the best part was Mickey's drunken outburst of saying "any money those girls are from 'Wang Chau'". Wang chau was renound for the red district, which I think is incidentally where the term "Wang" comes from. Sexual references aside we come to the end of my tour that night of Hong-Kong. I cannot recollect much from that night, nor can I give you all the photo's I wish I could. As I sat drunkenly slouching against my friend, I pondered in my head all the great things I had seen in Hong-Kong, to this day some I can't even remember whether it may have been jet lag or alcohol consumption despite it being over a week ago. But I will say this; it isn't the last I've seen of Hong-Kong. With that thought, for the third time; I elegantly bashed my head onto the seat of the bus, and thought of all the things waiting for me in my new life in Australia.
Thank-you to everyone who is following and reading my blog at this point, I apologize again for the late submission due to personal things that needed sorting out. The extent of this entry has lasted over a week, starting in Hong-Kong airport and ending now as I sit at my desk listening to the crickets; outside in this 36 degree heat. The town I'm currently in has many things, outdoor cinema's, outrageous Aboriginals, and 2 ton camels. You can read all of this and my journey through Australia so far this week in the 'Life and Times of Brighterside'. Thanks to anyone reading back home in the UK, I wouldn't document this if it weren't for wanting to send something back home to you. A huge thank-you to Micky for being to damn genrous and pretty much paying for the tour of Hong-Kong, great memories my friend.
If you want to see more of my photo's of the tour of Hong-Kong you can see them here: