Saturday, 30 June 2012

Hong Kong

Friday, 22 June 2012

A final flavour of Australia!
So, goodbye Australia.  It's been a really wonderful trip and it breaks my heart to leave our family and that gorgeous little munchkin.  She will be a toddler the next time I see her.  Wish I could be in two places at once.
Best not to dwell, so ... hello Hong Kong! 
Crazy place.  Where to start?
Hong Kong is an assault on the senses.  It was very hot, very humid, very busy and so much to see!  Being married to an architect I was more than aware that there were also iconic buildings to be seen and modest ambitions to be fulfilled in that respect.  So lots to be doing over three days! Again I think the best way to describe our time in Hong Kong is to show you some of my photographs, without too much chat otherwise we'll be here forever!  I'll do it in one hit but it will be a long post nevertheless!  Feel free to dip in and out!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

We stayed in Causeway Bay.  It's a very busy part of Hong Kong and whilst the street markets get going early, most of the shops don't open until around 10.00 or 11.00, especially those in the big shopping malls.  Whether it's high end goods or market stalls, it's all about shopping.
Young Gucci.  There was also young Ralph Lauren, and young every other designer label.
Saturday morning window shopping with mum - in Chanel!
Mini shoppers
Sorry about the reflection, but this is clever - coat hangers in Harvey Nicks' window!
Louis Vuitton window display - made of paper
These photos were all taken in one of the many extremely expensive shopping malls.  No expense spared anywhere - take a look at the ladies loo!
Back on the street things are a little less sophisticated!
Stacking packets of sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves

Dried fishy things
Angry Bird cakes!
Steaming packets of sticky rice in a real Chinese takeaway!
Looking for a flat?
Covering all your incense needs
A noodle shop
Flower stall with pink lotus flowers in the middle
A daily street market selling mostly meat, fish, vegetables and fruits.
Fish man - looks more like a sumo wrestler!
The vegetable stalls were full of many different stir fry greens!
Lots of lychee
Does anyone know what this black stuff is?  Very shiny and sold in slices.  I assume the white stuff is tofu.
At first floor level, above the street market.
I love this window with the cooking utensils sitting in jars.
Indian silver jewellery shop
On their day off the only place the Filipino maids have to go are covered public spaces.  They sit and play cards, chat, eat and entertain themselves.  There are hundreds and hundreds of women congregating in this way once a week.  It is an escape for them from the only other place they have to themselves, which is mostly a room the size of a cupboard in the house where they work.  They all seemed jolly enough.

These ladies are gathered together underneath the iconic Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building.
We went with friends out to Discovery Bay on one of the ferries which travel between the islands. We saw some dragon boat racing which was a colourful spectacle.  It was a much bigger deal than the races we saw in Darwin a few weeks ago.
On Saturday evening we went with friends to the top of the Peak for dinner.  The view at night is just fabulous.  Mr Gaucho took this photo with his rather most sophisticated camera.
The Peak is a very popular destination for everyone, not just tourists.  The views are spectacular, both day and night and there are all sorts of other amusements once you get there, and of course more shopping.  After dinner, although it was well after 11 pm there were long queues to get back down either by the Peak Tram, taxis or bus.  The quickest option was to go by bus - i.e. a double decker hurtling down and round the hairpin bends at high speed.  Not a journey I would wish to repeat in this lifetime thanks!

Sunday, 24 June 2012
We went up the ICC tower, the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon and fourth tallest building in the world.  It's 118 floors, 484 m/1588 ft high and complete in 2010.  The observation deck is on the 100th floor.  It only took a few seconds to get up there - literally!
You walk over a glass floor with a model of Hong Kong beneath
Visibility could have been better but you get the general idea - lots and lots of high rise buildings far far below with mainland China in the distance somewhere!
I woz there
On Sunday evening we were very honoured to be invited by another friend to join her family to celebrate her grandmother's 90th birthday.  It was a great evening and the meal was delicious.  The birthday girl had two celebration cakes, the traditional buns which I think are steamed and contain a sweet paste of lotus seed and a whole egg yolk and also a more modern type of birthday cake with a candle
which she blew out with great aplomb!

Monday, 25 June 2012
Today we visited the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tia Sin Temple in Kowloon.  There were worshippers with bunches of burning incense sticks and offerings placed for the Buddha.  I felt as though we were rather intrusive with all our happy snapping of cameras but the temple is obviously a big tourist attraction that I supposed the locals are used to the presence of visitors.
A quick rub for good luck!
Statues depicting Chinese zodiac signs

The lotus flower features strongly in Buddhism.  It is very beautiful and I feel it is important to try and understand it's role.  I found the following which gives a brief but good explanation.

The lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.  

The second meaning, which is related to the first is purification. It resembles the purifying of the spirit which is born into murkiness. 

The third meaning refers to faithfulness. Those who are working to rise above the muddy waters will need to be faithful followers.

We left the temple and went by MTR (mass transportation railway) underground to visit the Western Market where silks are sold.  Gorgeous colours of both Chinese and Thai silks.  My preference is for the softer colours and the texture of Thai silk, but sadly I can barely sew on a button so my interest is purely visual!
Monday evening and time to go home.  Time to leave that crazy, frenetic place behind.
We headed off to the airport, leaving the Hong Kong lights in the distance.  We packed a lot into three days!  It was a great visit and we were very fortunate indeed to have friends to introduce us to a part of the world neither of us had been before, so very many thanks indeed to them.  It was a very memorable time.
The airport building was amazing too
but by now all I wanted to do was get home safely, back to our wood!