A lazy lie in, in comfort and cosy warmth, although Ian has a sore throat which we hope is due to the air conditioning, and not the beginnings of SARS... We took lovely hot showers and it was delightful to step onto thick soft carpet after a shower instead of cold dirty floor tiles, as we have had in Thailand.
Breakfast was lovely, very well cooked and the service was good, especially as we received drinks refills. The Newton Hotel has been a good choice for accommodation and breakfast. Unfortunately we seem to have timed the Hong Kong leg of our travels badly, not only due to SARS but also because it is raining and the fog has spoiled our view of the harbour. Having said that we do have lovely upgraded accommodation!
We played games of bao and bantumi for a while before vacating the hotel to venture out into the SARS infected and rainy outdoors of Hong Kong.
I frogmarched Ian to a small cafe that I spotted yesterday where we took a snack mid afternoon in place of lunch. I had English apple crumble whcih was served with delicious vanilla ice-cream and cream, with a cup of tea. It was scrumptious!
We took the MTR to Central which was very pleasant. The subway system is extremely smooth and clean and the position and direction of the train is highlighted on the carriage, which is one long carriage from one end of the train to the other. It's excellent. You can see all the way along the length of the train, especially when you reach a popular station for exiting and you are left on a virtually empty train. A wealthy country certainly provides an excellent public transport system. Hoorah for Hong Kong! On emerging onto the street we had a look at the HSBC main building and the Legislative Council Chambers then proceeded to the International Finance Centre mall and browsed in a bookshop. Then we headed for SoHo rather slowly and stumbled across the central and mid-levels escalator which runs for 800 metres uphill. It is the world's longest escalator and between 06:00 and 10:00 it runs downhill only and between 10:20 and 24:00 it runs uphill only. We leaped on at Lyndhurst Terrace and travelled for about 500 metres to Conduit Road, the summit of the escalator climb. Sadly we didn't have a view back over Hong Kong but it was a fun ride.
We had to walk back down and treated ourselves to a beer in the Peak Cafe on returning to Lyndhurst Terrace, before taking a seat in a Spanish restaurant, La Comida, to satisfy my craving for Tapas. Whilst we were sipping beer in the what became a heavily popular post work bar, although when we arrived it was mostly occupied by Brits, Ian made a comment to me, which I quote, 'you're about as bright as a burned out bulb.' I fail to recall why the comment was made... We accompanied our Spanish meal with a bottle of Torres Atrium 2001. During dinner Ian made another, rather offensive remark, but I rejected that from taking residence in my memory at the time. He also helped himself to my food and polished off my tapas without invitation. He placed it on his plate and then talked for so long the food went cold and so despite committing it to his plate, he refused to eat it! It was funny at the time.
As we made our way back to Central to get a train to North Point I led a detour to the Macau ferry terminal where allegedly the world's largest neon sign stands. However, we couldn't locate it, despite us waiting until after sunset, which doesn't darken the sky at all, there is a permanent glow in the skies over Hong Kong which we suspect is down to light pollution. I asked a local for his help in locating it but he had no knowledge of it and in his disjointed English he gave me 10 minutes of his time giving me advice on where to go on Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, the Sai Kung peninsula and Lamma Island, which is all very well but we only have tomorrow for more sightseeing! He did suggest that we just leave the urban area and go to the beaches and walk around Sai Kung. When we boarded the tram back to the hotel Ian somehow managed to get one leg either side of the turnstile and awkwardly fell onto the tram, then decided it was down to me! The tram carried us from Central to Percival Street where we had to disembark as it was heading to Happy Valley and not our required North Point. We walked the rest of the way to the Newton Hotel.
The pedestrian crossings in part of Central Hong Kong have ticking audios which remind me of a Metallica song.
The rain had ceased when we went out but the skies remained foggy and hazy throughout the day, although the sun was shining through some cloud late afternoon. On the subway about eighty five per cent of people were wearing surgical masks. Entrepreneurs have cottoned on to the potential earnings through selling cartoon and designer masks, covering them with designs like Snoopy, Winne the Pooh and tartan prints. The standard 3M industrial masks and 'active carbonate' masks are also available.
Copyright 2003 Helen Fuller. All rights reserved.