A trip to Hong Kong II

Beijing, March 07

The cable car stationI managed to get to the Garden Road Station where a cable car would take me to the top of Victoria Peak and to a stunning view over Hong Kong. I was dismayed to see a huge queue of people, stretching way around the corner of the station and onto the road.Generally, I have had bad experiences regarding queues (pai2 dui4) in China (1.3 billion people - think about it!), but this one moved quickly and orderly, and in no time at all I was getting onto the cable car.

Top view

Victoria PeakThe cable car was packed and the ride was a slow and impossibly steep one. We found ourselves sitting at 45 degree angles for most of the trip! But the scenery (feng1 jing3) was fantastic and I must say I really enjoyed it. Once at the end of the ride, we were ushered to disembark at what I can only describe as a high altitude shopping mall.There were signs saying "This way to the Peak", but on the way I had to navigate my way through four floors of ultra cheesy touristy souvenir shops and fast food joints. There were famous fast food franchises galore and even a "Forest Gump" themed shrimp restaurant. Sadly, this place could have been anywhere in the world and I quickly made my way to the top to get a real view of Hong Kong.When I finally reached the viewing point, Victoria peak did not disappoint. I had a clear, panoramic view of Hong Kong harbour. What struck me was how densely built up it was. In such a small area of land there were so many skyscrapers and modern looking buildings, seemingly on top of each other.

Chinese chit chat

Hong Kong ParkAfter returning from the peak, I decided to check out Hong Kong Park, which was five minutes' walk from the cable car drop-off point. Hong Kong Park was smaller than I expected, but it was well worth checking out. It was serene and scenic, with a beautiful garden and lake populated by fat, exotic fish and turtles. While taking a seat to rest and enjoy the moment, I shared a bench with an old lady from China. Once she realised I could speak Chinese, we got chatting. She told me how the previous day her phone had been stolen from her bag on the subway in Hong Kong. She suspected the thieves (xiao3 tou1, little thief) were from her hometown in China, and told me how in the last few years, many had come from there to Hong Kong to prey on unwary travellers. She told me to be very careful with my stuff. This was quite a moment for me, because this woman spoke no English at all, and a year or so ago, I wouldn't have been able to have this conversation.

Bird flu reminder

Hong Kong Park was next to botanical gardens, a zoo (dong4 wu4 yuan2, animal park) and an aviary. Due to the recent outbreak of bird flu, the aviary was fenced off with big "keep away" signs in view. After the SARS epidemic, I could see Hong Kong was not taking any risks.

A trip to Aberdeen

AberdeenMy excursion on Hong Kong Island ended with a trip to a place called Aberdeen, named after the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, George Hamilton-Gordon. Aberdeen, although now developed, still remaines a traditional fishing village and for 30HKD I was taken on a 30-minute boat ride around the harbour which was full of a fantastic array of fishing boats, from the modern to traditional. There was even a huge floating restaurant which must be a nightmare to work on.

Ex-pat haven

Lama IslandAfter Aberdeen, I took a one-hour ferry ride to a place called Lama Island. This was a remote haven for ex-pats to escape but it was hardly Alex Garland's "The Beach". It was a cliché of a place, with shops selling bead necklaces, Bob Marley and Che Gavara t-shirts. As the last ferry was leaving soon, I had the feeling that I wanted to escape, too. So I got the ferry back to Aberdeen. I hear Lama Island has wonderful hiking, but I didn't get to see the best of it on this trip.

Editor's note: Chris is writing Chinese words in 'Pinyin', Latin script, using numbers that indicate the tone of the word. Find out more with our course Real Chinese.

Sent by: Chris

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