Sunday, 18 November 2012

Day 16: Hustling, Bustling Hong Kong!

Day 16: Hustling, Bustling Hong Kong!
  Hong Kong is New York on steroids! People lined up for blocks just to get into a Prada store, sidewalks so busy that you have to walk on the street in order to get somewhere, hawkers on every corner trying to sell knockoff purses and watches, or custom made suits. The air is electric with an energy that is at once exhilarating and overwhelming. Luckily, there are delightful respites from the madness in the form of parks and beaches. This was the main part of our adventures today.

Jumbo Floating Restaurant

We started with a leisurely walk through Kowloon Park, which is found in the middle of the city. This park was originally a British military base, and was converted into a park in 1970. It was quite a rainy day, although the temperature is a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius, and the tropical gardens gave us a chance to take it easy and snap some wonderful pictures. We caught the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island and caught the Big Bus tour out to the beaches. Once out of the center of the city, there are some amazing homes and golf courses that take advantage of the stunning beaches. This area reminded me of Hawaii with the tropical trees, spectacular bays and zig zaggy mountain roads. This area icludes Stanley,  where the Japanese detained their war prisoners when they occupied China in 1941. This was a horrific experience as the prisoners of war were starved and brutalized for three long years. The Winnipeg Grenadiers played a key role in the battle that they surrendered to the Japanese on Christmas day, 1941 (Black Christmas).  This was interesting for us as Canadians, and particularly for Bryce as a Winnipeger and son of two parents who served in the armed forces. The Japanese shot anyone who was too wounded to walk to the internment camp, and 25% of the almost 2000 men who left Vancouver in 1941 did not return home at the end of the war. Those that did were severely impacted by the nightmare that they endured in the POW camps, and Bryce can remember as a child, being told by his  parents to never ask about it or talk about it to any of their buddies who had been there. Jack, Jerry, Wilmer, and all those who we have never met, we send you a huge salute and our thanks.
We took a cruise around Aberdeen bay in a sampan, which is a traditional Chinese flat bottomed fishing boat. Aberdeen used to be a little fishing village, but with the beautiful beaches, it has become a traffic congested area of high rise condos with breathtaking beach views. This used to be a haven for pirates, but the Hong Kong government wasn’t a Johnny Depp fan!
 There are still some people living on their sampans, and today, their beat up old boats can be found moored alongside beautiful luxury yachts. Anchored in the middle of the bay is the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, which is a spectacular sight to see!
We broke down and spent some money today, as Bryce came across the world’s best camera salesman. He went to buy a $200 lens and ended up with two professional grade lenses and a new wide angle zoom lens. He now has enough gear and the enthusiasm to get a job working for National Geographic! We are off to greater adventures tomorrow as we head for Vietnam and even warmer weather. Woo hoo!
One of the fabulous beaches
Night food market
Bryce at park

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