|After 15hours on the plane from Johannesburg International Airport, we flew over Kowloon (seemingly right between high buildings!) and landed at Kai Tak Airport. After passing through immigration, we boarded a bus and had an hour’s drive to Kowloon and the Park Hotel, on the mainland.(Hong Kong is actually an island.) Then decided to explore.
The streets were narrow, with alleyways and stairs, and signs written in Chinese and/or English were sticking out at right angles into the street. Most of the shops were very small, and so were the people – the only tallish ones being some of the young men.
The following morning (raining but warm) we were taken via a 6-lane undersea tunnel to Hong Kong Island, and up a winding road to the Peak train, which was one long coach with wooden slatted benches. This was a funicular rail (i.e. worked by cables underneath) and it was so steep in some places that the buildings alongside looked like Leaning Towers. From the top there was a beautiful view of Hong Kong, the South China Sea and the Kowloon peninsula. Thence to the famed Tiger Balm gardens, embellished with many fantasmagoric statues and winding staircases all over the hill. After spending about an hour there, we continued to Aberdeen where we boarded a motorized sampan and were taken through the junks and sampans of the harbour to the Jumbo restaurant – an enormous, ornate and colourful 3-storied, floating, family restaurant consisting of several diningrooms on each floor. Full and very noisy.
The following day we left (in the warm rain) at 8.30 a.m. and took 1½hrs to do 8kms through the Kowloon traffic. Passed the New Territories, which were resettlement areas for refugees. Huge H-shaped buildings with one 3m x 3m room per family and washrooms, etc. in the centre. Then through an industrial section, then middleclass flats. Much building construction, with bamboo scaffolding. Into the country and along the coast where we saw some of the 365 islands that comprise that area. Pretty mountainous, with small waterfalls, and luxuriant growth – creepers like curtains from trees, water hyacinths, lotuses. We passed several duck farms, which were square stretches of water, with shelters. Then homeward bound, we passed the Amah rock (which looks like a woman with a baby on her back), then went through the Lion Rock tunnel (2 lanes,1-way and about 1.6km long).
Back to the hotel to freshen up and change for the Night Out tour. To La Ronda revolving restaurant on the 30th floor of the Furama hotel in Hong Kong. The rain had stopped! What a beautiful view – the lights of Hong Kong hill on one side, the harbour and Kowloon on the other. Then to the gigantic Ocean Terminal (a l-o-n-g shopping complex) to see a Chinese floor show, with beautiful girls in beautiful “old-fashioned” Chinese costumes. Saw the Lion Dance with a most lovely lion (2 men), which wiggled its bottom and fluttered its eyelashes! Then home after a full day.
Sunny!! And very hot. Went on a tour to Sung Dynasty village – very interesting. Visited the Wax Museum of Chinese emperors from 2600 B.C. till the present day. Watched men making joss sticks (sticks rolled in a mixture of perfume, sawdust and something else), hand painting fans, calligraphy, saw – and heard - an “ancient Chinese” orchestra which to us sounded just like caterwauling felines (!) and watched a street magician and a noodle-maker. The tour continued into a Wealthy Man’s house – all carved fir wood, which smelt like camphor. Saw old bowls, pitchers, etc. and an embroidered picture 5m long which took 30 men 4 years to complete.
And so to Macao.