Thursday, March 17, 2011

China Journal Day 19 Hong Kong Around the Hotel

It's... that time of the week where we escape to China! After a most exciting day in Longsheng we say goodbye to Guilin and hello to Hong Kong! Below is a map that shows the cities we've visited in China, click on the picture to see it bigger. We started out in Beijing, then Xian, cruised the Yangtze River from Chongqing to Yichang, flew to Shanghai where we visited Suzhou and later Guilin to see the Li River, Yangshuo and Longsheng, Hong Kong was our last destination. Phew! It has been quite a journey, I took over 18,000 pictures and have recorded our trip every week for the past year, today is our 54th post. Thank you for the opportunity to share, it has been a delightful travel in itself.

The view of high-rise buildings from our window, we stayed at the Cityview Hotel, formerly called the YMCA International House. Centrally located in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, we were close to all kinds of public transportation and various eateries. Unlike all the hotel rooms in China where non-smoking meant no one was smoking in your room at the time, our non-smoking room in Hong Kong was truly smoke-free. We were also pleased it was clean and very quiet, the staff spoke good English, service was efficient and polite.
While waiting for our ride we decided to explore around the hotel. By the entrance, the triangular YMCA logo greeted us, a huge Keep Clear sign on the road indicated the turn into the foyer.
At the corner, the 7 Eleven convenience store where we purchased instant noodles the night before. It took 1.5 hours to get through customs, by the time we arrived at the hotel it was almost 2 AM, all the shops including the hotel restaurant were closed.
Down the street leading up to the hotel, we noticed the street signs for pedestrians were at eye level, clearly legible in English and Chinese there is no mistake as to where we were.
The parking meter looked different than the ones back home. No coins needed, it had a card reader that accepted payments from Octopus Card, which is also used for public transportation and shopping at participating outlets. If such a system was implemented here, it would be so convenient.
The busy traffic with all kinds of vehicles: cars, cabs and vans but no SUVs. The double decker bus instantly reminded me of Singapore, moving twice the amount of passengers from one end of the city to another.
We searched for the closest Mass Transit Railway station and found it by following the crowd towards the dark tunnel. This was 10 AM and already the streets were bustling with people.
Not everyone used public transit however, pictured below a bicycle, a familiar sight throughout our China travel. It was equipped with 2 baskets filled with vegetables, where was it heading?
Tall high rise could be seen at every corner, I remembered the flats in Singapore, at more than 40 stories high the area was called the concrete jungle.
But amidst the seemingly cold and impersonal atmosphere there were shops that indicated the existence of an ordinary neighborhood. A yellow sign said Kodak Express will develop your photos in one hour, there was a beauty shop and a salon, the second level housed some kind of association.
Nearby a hobby store that was a familiar sight in Singapore, my brothers were into model airplanes and ships, Tamiya was a most popular brand for paints. It felt good to see shops like this were still in business.
Despite the cramped living spaces it did not stop people from making the best use of open areas. I was glad to see the potted garden of various tropicals and blooming bougainvillea brimming from the balcony.
Looking up even the tiniest window ledge did not escape the residents' green fingers.
Back at the entrance of the hotel we looked out for our ride, but ended up at the construction by the sidewalk.
It was one of the most organized construction zone we ever saw, bright yellow fences to prevent pedestrians from falling into holes, clear signage to indicate temporary foot route. No debris was seen, it was surprisingly clean.
Pictured below workers were discussing options in Cantonese, yellow hard hats were worn but the one on the left was embellished with the brim from a straw hat.
The other entrance of the hotel was located on Waterloo Road. Our ride soon appeared and off we went exploring the city of Hong Kong, until next week the China adventure continues!


  1. What a change of scenery. HK has its own charms. Can't wait to read more next week.