Typhoon warning

3 August, 2006 at 15:18 (Hong Kong)

We are currently at level 3 typhoon warning because there is a storm moving in towards Guangdong.
http://www.hko.gov.hk/contente.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5241016.stm

Level 3 isn’t that bad really, just strongish winds and raining on-and-off. But, it has interfered with plans to go to an island called Cheung Chau.  I was really looking forward to going there because the only way to get there is by Ferry (so it’s not too developed) and it has a pirates cave!  Next time…

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Macau

3 August, 2006 at 15:10 (Hong Kong)

I had originally planned to leave on the 2nd, but because I wanted to see some places and do a few other things (plus relax a bit), I extended my stay until the 4th.

One of the places I wanted to see was Macau, a former Portugeuse colony about 1 hour away from Hong Kong by ferry. So, on Tuesday myself and four other remaining students from summer school ventured there to see the sights.

After an inauspicious start to our day (myself and the other two guys forgot our passports :P, but hey, I did remember my digital and film camera, a change of clothes, shoes & socks for the casinos and my lonely planet book), we had a good time in Macau.

The main attractions in Macau are probably the casinos (there are about 15 to 20) and also the fusion of culture, architecture and food that arose from portuguese colonisation. I’ve updated the album with some pics from Macau so check it out, some of them you wouldn’t know if you were in Europe or Asia.

Anyway, we visited a few places in Macau, first we went to the Flora gardens. The gardens are the largest public park in Macau are on the top of the highest peak. Also on the peak is the Guia fort and a lighthouse, there are some pics of these too. Really nice views from up here and the architecture is great.

After this, we headed to the ruins of the Church of St Paul, it is basically just the facade of a Church which was burnt to the ground by some careless chef in 1835. The area around the Church is where I took the photos which look like they are in Europe. It was fairly touristy, but we managed to find a local type place to eat some lunch here. The food was pretty decent, it seemed a bit like fusion food leaning more towards Asian style than Portuguese.

From here we went to the Macau Museum which wasn’t too bad, but it was pretty small.

Then, we tried to get into some protestant cemetary which looked really cool, but we were there after opening hours so the gates were shut. Some local guy told us that it was ok just to jump over a low wall and look around the cemetary, but the caretaker didn’t agree and we were promptly asked to jump back over. It’s pity we didn’t get to check it out, it looked really nice, it was quite small and shady, and the tombstones would have been very interesting to read.

Having been kicked out of the cemetery, we decided that we should buy our ferry tickets back to Hong Kong. Since it was a weekday, the last ferry was at 20:30, so by this time it was about 18:00, and we still wanted to check out at least one of the casinos.

As the two other guys only had flip flops on, they weren’t allowed inside any of the casinos. But, the guys and one of the girls didn’t want to gamble anyway, so they took off to the only shopping mall in Macau while myself and the other girl headed into Sands casino. We were hoping to check out two casinos, one old and one new, but by the time we had walked around sands for a bit (losing on roullette but coming out ahead on the pokies! hooray!), we ran out of time and had to head to the ferry terminal.

Macau was a great place, I think you need to stay at least overnight to see enough of the sights though, since a day isn’t really enough.

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Right, right?

29 July, 2006 at 14:09 (Hong Kong, Uncategorized)

Street norm in HK is for Pedestrians to pass each other on the right.  This is of course the opposite of Melbourne where we pass on the left.  It’s wierd becuse the cars drive on the left the same as in Aus.

Oh, also, people on escalators stand on the right side, leaving the left side free for people in a hurry.

To make things confusing, whenever there are officially stated lanes (such as stairs or something).  They always make you pass on the left.  There is no consistency.

This is a bit of a random observation, but one I have made nonetheless.

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Pollution in HK

29 July, 2006 at 13:50 (Hong Kong, Uncategorized)

I’ve mentioned a few times to people the pollution in HK.  I don’t know the statistics or anything, but it definitely feels and smells more polluted than Melbourne. 

That is to be expected I guess, given the high population density and thus number of cars and buses.  However, it is claimed by HK that the pollution is actually caused by the mainland.  From all the factories in Guangdong and elsewhere.  A lecturer told us that when the wind blows from the south, the skies are blue, when it blows from the north, the skies are yellow.

Anyway, regardless of this, I still think they need to do something about the emissions from cars and buses here.  Most of the buses run on diesel and the taxis run on LPG.  A push to move all the diesel to biodiesel is not being supported by whoever needs to do so, rather, they are opting for more use of LPG.

They are trying to solve the mainland pollution emissions through cooperation and discussion, so hopefully this will be improved sometime.  As for the local emissions, who knows.

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Yindu cai zai Chungking mansion

27 July, 2006 at 20:25 (Hong Kong)

There is an infamous building in Hong Kong called the Chungking mansions, basically its a mixed use building comprising accomodation, food, shopping and who knows what else. Here, read about it yourself:

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/hongkong/0078024490.html

Anyhoo, friends in Hong Kong took me to an Indian place (Yindu cai = Indian cuisine) at Chungking early in my stay in Hong Kong and I liked it so much I decided to go back with some of my class mates.

The restaurant is called the Delhi Club, to get there you have to catch a dodgy (and tiny) elavator to the 4th floor. Upon exiting the elevator, there are basically two doors, one straight ahead, and one to your right. Inside these doors is the seating for the restaurant. But the thing is, there are no windows, its just like two private rooms in somebodies house (a windowless house). It must be such a firehazard, but that is part of the adventure of going there.

So, about six of was went and it was good to eat something different for a change. Plus the Indians that i’ve come across here all speak english really well, so ordering is no problem. The curries and naan were pretty good, not as good as Curry Curry though, that is supreme Yindu cai.

I will try to take some photos of Chungking if I go past there again, I didn’t have a camera when i went previously. A cool place with heaps of character, but I think I prefer staying in the Uni dorms :).

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NTA Part 3: Final

11 July, 2006 at 0:24 (Hong Kong)

Ok this series of posts about my NTA could drag on for a while, so I’ll keep this post brief and wrap things up.
After lunch, I found the 54K bus to take me to the wall villages…oh, what are the wall villages you say? Well, these are villages built by the locals up to 300 hundred years ago, for protection against bandits and other bad sorts. On the inside the walls are anywhere from half a metre to 2 metres tall, whilst on the other side they can be up to 4 metres tall. They also have port holes where you could fire arrows or projects of choice through, and some even have guard towers on each corner.

Having played follow the tourist, and alighted the 54K at the same stop as an elderly western looking couple and discovered that they actually lived inside a wall village. The husband had been living in asia for the past 50 or so years, and spoke about 6 languages. So, I had a drink at their house and then they showed me the way to a bus which took me to some Buddhist temple.

The temple was ok, but like other tourist places in China, it feels tacky because there are so many signs and protective covers everywhere that it loses part of the attraction in the first place. Oh well, it was still good, and being surrounded by mountains, was very scenic. I was only at this temple for about 30 minutes walking around the grounds, after which I decided to walk back the way I’d come (the bus only took about 5 or so minutes to get to the temple).

So, where am I…yeh, so, having walked back to the spot where I originally boarded the bus, I saw three tourist looking people, two of whom were Chinese. They looked a bit lost and as I walked near, they asked me if I knew where the wall villages were. As I had not found them myself, I told them so and knew only that there were wall villages all around us. Sorry, I should explain, there are some wall villages which are better preserved than others. The one the elderly couple lived in was build up more than others for example.

So, as I group, the four of us set out to find the well preserved wall towns. Fortuitiously, we saw a map nearby which outlined the Lung Yeuk Tau heritage tour trail which I had originally been seeking.  We visited two wall villages which were pretty nice, and well preserved, with the entire wall still intact and in good condition.  Quite a feat considering they were over 200 years old.  I should let everyone know however that, although well preserved, they are not unoccupied, people still live inside them, usually in more modern dwellings.

What else?  Well, we visited the two wall towns, then made our way back to the train station, which goes back to Kowloon.  However, we were a bit hungry by now, so decided to go out for dinner instead of heading back to town.  So, three of us (one had to leave), went out for dinner nearby at a local restaurant.  The two of them that I went out with were students at a University in Hong Kong, and were very nice, having been unofficial tour guides on the trip through the wall villages.

After dinner, they gave me a tour of their campus, which has its own train stop a few stops back towards town on the same line.  The University is called the Chinese University of Hong Kong and is huge! Check out the campus map for crikey sake:

After the tour we got back on the train and headed back towards Kowloon, although they got off a few stops before me.
Whoa, another post which went on for longer than I intended.  Hope it is somewhat coherent.

Till next time…

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NTA Part 2: Fanling Ancestor Temple

10 July, 2006 at 23:12 (Hong Kong)

My second stop for my New Territories trip was a place called Fanling (actually this was my second and final stop).

My visit to the Fanling ancestor temple was actually unplanned, I can’t remember the exact name of the temple,  but I think it was an ancestor temple, since there were photos of people everywhere in various rooms, with incense burning for them.  Some people also left fruit in bowls in-front of the photos.

Anyway, I only stumbled across this place because I was trying to find the 54K bus to take me to the Lung Yeuk Tau heritage tour trail, so I didn’t stay here long.

After the temple, I had lunch in the local shopping centre at some local fast food type place, it had pictures which was the clincher…

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NTA Part 1: Hong Kong Heritage Museum

10 July, 2006 at 23:03 (Hong Kong)

On sunday I went by train to what are called the New Territories. These are basically the satellite cities between Hong Kong and the mainland cities such as ShenZhen. I like to think of the new territories as the suburbs of hong kong since the towns are anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes away from Kowloon by the train (KCR line).

My first stop was at Tai Wai (actually the first stop in the new territories) where I visited the HK Heritage Museum. It’s a great museum, and like all the other museums I’ve been to here, very cheap. Entrance was only $10 HKD so less than $2 AUD. They have a variety exhibits here from traditional chinese art type displays to modern themed exhibits. The special exhibit on when I visited was called “MEGAartStore”, it was pretty strange actually, basically comprised of all modern day objects (packaging) such as food stuffs from a supermarket. They also had plastic casts of modern weaponry and a real (what looked real) tank which was covered in wood on the outside, but was still metal on the inside. Sounds strange to describe, but was very interesting.

Oh, while I was there I met a couple who had studied at the University of Melbourne. What was funny is that we had seen each other on the train, but didn’t chat, and then I saw them at the museum and remembered each other from the train. Since I didn’t see them on the way to the museum, nor do i recall them getting off at the same station as me, I assume I went a fairly innefficient way, but got a short city tour for my troubles :).

There was also a buddhist (I think buddhist) temple in Tai Wai, but I had other places to visit and didn’t get time to go there. Maybe next time…

NTA(New Territories Adventure) Part 2 coming soon…

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