Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hong Kong Journal Day 23 Kowloon Park Part 1

Welcome to our weekly episode on our China trip today! I am sorry about skipping a China post last week, too many things to do with too little time I simply could not concentrate. Thank goodness this week is much better. We are on Day 23 on our journey, we have been to 6 cities in Mainland China: Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, Yichang, Shanghai and Guilin, it was hard to choose but I must say they were all interesting. I have seen some of the most beautiful sceneries, gorgeous mountains on the Yangtze River and lingering hills by the Li River. One of our goals was to rent bikes and take the time to explore the area, which we did in Xian on the city wall and yet again in a little town called Yangshuo. Our China trip has been a dream come true, we enjoyed it very much and it is my personal joy and pride to share our journey with you every week since February 2010.

There are just a few more posts to go, we are on our last Chinese destination: Hong Kong to visit some friends, relax and unwind before heading home to Canada. While strolling down Nathan Road on this post, Peter and Vonny suggested we visit Kowloon Park. We headed down to the same location, things looked very different in the day time, all we saw were shops...
... and more shops. Brand names from all over the world, clothing, accessories, you named it they got it but they were not what we were looking for.
The bold advertisement across the street caught my eye, but passersby seemed oblivious to it.
A few double decker buses crowded with passengers drove by, they were covered with commercials too but I had no clue what they were about.
My attention turned to the brick building across the street, overshadowed by lush giant trees and succulent green undergrowth, the kind of prolific growth present only in a tropical climate.
Then David noticed the steps that Peter and Vonny mentioned, "go up those stairs and they will take you to the park."
One last look at Nathan Road before venturing into the park...
... onto a new level, the main entrance greeted us. Colossal hi-rise loomed in the distance, they balanced the strong graphic tile patterns on the ground. It dawned on us that Kowloon Park is located in the midst of Hong Kong's downtown core.
We walked down one of the pathways, the traffic noise faded into the background.
At the end of the path, an enormous building stood, its unique design and white exterior tiles reminded of the architecture of a shopping mall in Singapore.
But this was not a place for retail stores, we could smell the chlorine in the air and hear the children playing in the water. There it was behind the blue painted wall, a fair sized swimming pool shared by the community in the heart of the city.
Moving on as we were not there for a swim, a capture of the outside, a mosaic of more tall buildings, residential or office their purpose was unknown.
It was not long before we entered a greener space, bands of tropical plants filled the area, palms on the outlining edge while pink blossoms perked up the middle.
There were red and yellow flowers too, their rich colors contrast against the upright white lamp posts.
What was the reason for this wonderful garden arrangement? There in the centre of it all, a clock counting down the days and time remaining to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
Did I tell you we were in China in October 2007? Let's see, it was 282 days 7 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds to this international sports event!
Our focus returned back to the surrounding landscape, I could not help but notice those palm trees had really skinny trunks, regardless they lined up nicely and led the eye to...
... the end of the row where a totem pole stood tall. I was surprised to see this in Hong Kong, it instantly reminded me of Vancouver where totem poles resided in Stanley Park. We had been traveling for 23 days now, despite all the wonderful things we discovered on our trip we were missing home.
Thoughts of home gradually disappeared with the sight of prolific green, all the different shades combined with sculptured bushes gave a feeling of peace. There were lots of benches to sit around but wait...
... there were some steps that took you to another level...
... where there were more benches to choose from, to catch up with the daily news or time away from the office for a bite of lunch.
There was even tables and chairs for those who prefer a different setting, perhaps a morning game of Chinese chess with friends.
Onwards we continue like this man below, more on Kowloon Park next week, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hong Kong Diary Day 22 Sun Pat Kan and Hunting for Lunch

Thanks for joining us to escape to China today! We continue with our exploration of the little town of Stanley, after wandering through the Stanley Market and strolling down the Promenade we made our way to Sun Pat Kan Sitting Out Area. I could not recall exactly where this are was but captured below was a picture of the sign, I made a habit to record the signs at places we were visiting so there would be no mistake in remembering helpful things like correct names and spelling.We started out from the right, small boats were hauled out of the water for the day, the red one was covered with a blue tarp. I wonder if these were fishing vessels and if so, were they used for a commercial purpose?
My eye wandered to the left, more dry boats on the beach, there was hardly anyone there, the quiet waves lapped against the shore.
I walked towards the boats for a closer look, a shot of the turquoise hauls against the faded yellow building, it was a warm and hazy afternoon that day.
Out in the open the gray sea with a lone fisherman tending to his net, his boat the only one on the sand that was not overturned.
To the very left two friends were playing chess by the water under the shady canopy of a tropical tree, what a way to spend this lazy afternoon.
Across from the shore a row of houses, its structure was most unique, I don't think I have ever seen a concrete roof. Questions came to mind: were they high maintenance, would they crack in the long run and how did they build them?
The homes looked quite mundane, every single one has 2 windows, one on each side of the green double doors. However from this angle they looked rather interesting with their roofs in various shades of gray, some even appeared newly painted.
A shot of one of the letter box of the dwellings, the see through holes were a double coin design.
Some posters were stuck on some of the brick walls, advertisement for some product or was it for a TV show, it didn't matter, I thought they were a delightful spot of color that added a tiny bit of visual interest for this corner.
Leaving Sun Pat Kan Sitting Area, one last shot before our hunt for lunch, a rather disorganized array of buildings on this block that seemed to go together somehow.
Walking down the main road looking for a place to eat, the sides were off limits, as usual the bright yellow fence announced its construction presence to pedestrians and drivers.
There was lots of menu choices, would you care for a fish and chips platter and a side of mashed peas at this English pub?
How about a couple of fusion entrees at this stylish joint with modern interiors...
... or some calamari or pasta at a Mediterranean restaurant with sunny walls?
We were not entirely sure what the food would be like here, red and white checked tablecloths mixed with Chinese red paper couplets and Halloween lanterns resulted in a strange decorative touch. It was lunch time but no one was eating at any of these places so we decided to move on.
Alas we found lunch at a building away from the tourist area, it was packed with locals eating away. A filling combination of beef and tomato, chicken with black pepper sauce and Singapore fried vermicelli with rice and drinks for only RMB $105, about $15 Canadian for 3 adults. Prices in Hong Kong was by far the highest costs for our travel expenses but this was the most reasonable meal we had there. Captured below one last shot of Stanley before heading back to the car.
Day 22 of our China trip turned out to be a visit to a few places, it started out with Repulse Bay then antique shopping on Hollywood Road, more shopping at Stanley Market and some quiet time at the Promenade and Sun Pat Kan. That night we headed back to the hotel and wandered through the neighborhood looking for dinner, a simple meal of BBQ pork and BBQ duck with boiled vegetables and oyster sauce, prices were reasonable but the food was very greasy. We walked about and found an electronics building with stores at all levels selling only electronics but it was past 9 PM and they were closed. Tired from all the traveling we were in bed by 11PM, the first time in 22 days we went to bed early! It was a restful sleep indeed. Next week our China adventure continues!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hong Kong Postcard Day 22 Promenade in Stanley

There are still loads of laundry to do and I cannot find my way to the desk, oh well at least I can still type on the computer. Let's forget about the daily chores and escape to China instead! Last week Peter took us to Stanley Market for a quick stroll through the shops, it was not as crowded as we expected but some quiet time was needed so we decided to wander off towards the promenade. As we walked along the colorful circles through the trees drew us near.The circles led the way down the path that was lined with yellow tiles, a mishmash of buildings off to the side, I quite like the look of the older ones mingled in with the new.
I decided to walk towards the buildings to get a closer look, below the view of the drain that greeted me. There were doors and steps that led to this drain area, I wondered what was its purpose?
Back on the street, a feeling of calm and quiet despite the diverse structural shapes, maybe it was because of the gray colored ground, its flat surface was quite comfortable to walk on.
Across the way, the view of the peaceful ocean, the gentle curve of the concrete edge led the walkway towards some pastel colored buildings.
Walking on the trail led us to the newly developed shops by the water.
A closer look at the businesses, hanging tarps over their roofs in triangle shapes, brown paper covered its windows, a disappointing reality: they were closed and unoccupied.
The empty shops went all the way to the end, vacant benches beautifully designed but no one to use them.
As we explored the commercial area there were some shops that were open for business, it appeared they were mostly cafes but the presence of customers assured us this was a new area that had only just started up.
It would be nice to sit and watch the people as they relaxed with their cup of jo, like this man sitting on the edge, but it was time to move on to explore other parts of the area.
On the way we saw a sign on the wall, courtesy of Hong Kong's Leisure and Cultural Services Department, reminding visitors of this park's rules. Regardless of its restrictions it did not prevent us from enjoying the view, the unique architecture of the shops and the walk by the sea. Onwards we go to explore more of the area, join us next week same time same place!