Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hong Kong Diary Day 19 Tsim Sha Tsui and Nathan Road

It's Thursday and time for another post on our China trip! After a relaxing stop at Lok Ma Chao Lookout, we had lunch with friends Peter and Vonny and headed back towards our hotel in Yau Ma Tei, below the shot out the window while we were on the highway.I remembered in the 1980's Hong Kong was known as the shoppers' paradise, people would flock there for the best deals in electronic goods, exquisite clothing and fine dining. But business seemed to dwindle in 1990's as consumers found competitive pricing and better quality elsewhere. However there was still no lack of shopping opportunity when we were there in 2007. A stop along the way at Seiyu, a Japanese shopping mall in Sha Tin revealed a specialty store that catered to the littlest customers, pictured below the entrance to the tiny food court.
At its doorway, Vonny pointed out the cutest looking menu for baby food, too bad there was no English, $35 which equates to $5 Canadian seemed pretty steep for baby food.
After browsing, the elevator led us to the parking lot where this unique chili red car caught our eye, a petite 2 seater in it's own corner spot.
What brand is it? Can you get it in North America? Seemingly the funky looking ones are only available in Europe and Asia, car manufacturers think they would not sell well here but I beg to differ.
Another stopover at Tsim Sha Tsui, just a few minutes walk from our hotel, the mere mention of this area brought back memories of shop after shop of inexpensive clothing and budget eateries.
Somehow the atmosphere in the area felt somewhat quiet, it was not as crowded as I remembered. There was less street stalls but I had to stop for the one that sold girls' dresses, I used to wear fluffy skirts just like that!
We were all tired and hungry, all we wanted was a bowl of noodle soup.
The hunt stopped as we ventured upon this steamy window, plastic bags hung from a pole filled with wheat and rice noodles, bubbling soup pot ready for your order of custom add-ons: BBQ pork, shrimp wontons, or fish balls? Everything smelled so good, thank goodness there was no need to queue for long, food was ready in minutes and gulped down in seconds.
After the quick dinner we walked across the street to check out this newly opened joint, I did not recognize the Chinese characters, neither did Peter and Vonny. We peered through the window and witnessed no customers so we continued on.
Down the street towards the Circle K, we headed towards Nathan Road.
The bustling traffic on the main road drew us near, bright signs blaring international franchise and flashy big screens advertised Nathan Road as the shopping district in Hong Kong.
As we stood I could not believe the amount of commercials aimed at the helpless consumer.
There is no escape from endorsement by foot or by car.
The time was close to midnight, but there was little gap in traffic flow, I managed to capture this 'empty' moment of the street before the vehicles started to whiz by again.
A surprising find on Nathan Road, not all shops catered to clothes, how about a Chinese herbal store with remedies and concoctions that claimed to cure all your ailments?
Continuing on the main street back to the car, we were surprised to find so many people going about their way on the sidewalk.
One last shot of the crowded double decker buses before returning to our hotel. A quick hot shower and off to bed at 1 AM, we welcomed the rest to ready for new destination in Hong Kong, stay tuned next week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hello Hellebores

Saying Hello this very grey and very rainy Tuesday with Hellebores! They were the same ones captured here, seemingly the blooms on this post were at a later stage. I love these droopy flowers, I had to squat down for a better view.

Today was laundry day but I also managed to squeeze in a walk for grocery shopping which later meant cooking. The painting ideas I had last week were coming along nicely but some further refinements on a smaller scale was required. How is your Tuesday?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Follow the Robin

Follow the robin down the trail of garden flowers
daffodils already in bloom with many others
that will soon join the parade
the hyacinths smelled absolutely lovely
a small forsythia bush complimented the picket fence
little feathered reds that reminded me of the pink tufts in Horton Hears a Who!

Rhododendrons the same ones here is now blooming
Spring is a little late this year, so the gardener says
but here I am walking discovering one bloom after another
a mysterious bulb plant, its flowers the faintest blue
Spring sprouts, magnolia buds and more Spring sprouts
white snow, pink snow, even the weeds amongst the grass is flowering

Oh what a glorious season, I hope you have a good week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hong Kong Postcard Day 19 Lok Ma Chao Lookout

Hello Thursday! We continue with our China trip in Hong Kong where friends Peter and Vonny took us to Lok Ma Chao Lookout for an easy start of the day. There were some changes in traffic so it took some driving around before we found the sign pictured below.
You may be wondering why we chose to visit this site. This was our third visit to Hong Kong, our second was in 1993, and the late 1980's was our first. The Lok Ma Chao Lookout overlooks Shenzhen, China, over the past few years there were visible signs of industrial development, below the scene in 2007.
David and I gazed upon the same landscape in 1993, Peter's mom took us there for some quiet time, an escape from the city. Buildings were present but they were not as monstrous.
When David first visited the Lookout in 1989, he remembered it was mostly farmlands, the distant mountains were still visible as pictured below. From Hong Kong China was only a short drive away, but his hopes of a visit were dashed as protests soon led to the massacre at Tiananmen Square, it was another 18 years before he toured China.
A comparison snapshot of the 3 years, it's amazing how time flies, it seems we were just there in just the blink of an eye.
New at the Lok Ma Chao Lookout, a sign that pinpointed where we were and what we were looking at, click on the picture for a bigger view.
Another part of the same sign that briefed us on the history of Lok Ma Chao, which also stated the river was to remain a restricted border regulated on both China and Hong Kong sides to control immigration and the flow of goods.
Under the hazy sky, the distant development became a blur, I could not help but wonder about the people in China.
While researching for our trip we immersed ourselves with documentaries on China, hoping to catch a glimpse or experience the country's culture visually. Some contained negative environmental messages, others reported human rights violations, we reminded ourselves this visit would be a leisure one.
After traveling the country for 19 days, we found a personal connection with the place and its people, the memories we gathered would last a lifetime. We wondered if industrial development and economic growth at the loss of cultural identity and the cost of people's well-being is a price worth paying for modern China.
Most people we met were excited about the opportunity to move the country forward, many felt welcoming the new China represented increased income and higher standards of living.
I also thought if China had not opened her doors to the world, we would not have been able to travel the country so freely and luxuriously as we had done.
A closer observation of the view led us to notice the wooden huts by the water.
A close up of the huts revealed its dilapidated conditions, seemingly they were what was left of the houses that resided next to the farmlands in the late 1980s. This served as a reminder of China's past and how fast she had progressed in the last 20 years.
One last look at Shenzhen before we headed off to lunch. We were glad to have a relaxing stopover at the Lookout, the 18 days of intense travel had taken a toil on us, some days there was only 4 hours of sleep plus plenty of walking, needless to say we felt somewhat tired. We chose Hong Kong as our last destination to unwind before returning to Canada, more on Day 19 next week!