What time is it?
Well the jet lag finally caught up with me today. I came back to my hotel to pick up my ATM card as I was running out of cash and was heading over to the market at Stanley. When I got into my room I just lay down on the bed for two seconds and then it was four hours later. Oops. Guess I needed to sleep. The strange thing about the time difference is that I get to sleep OK around 1am (5pm UK time) and then come wide awake at 8am (midnight) – you’d think I’d feel like getting back to sleep then!
Had a great day yesterday wandering through Kowloon taking everything in. The streets are pretty busy but people don’t walk as fast as in New York. The most interesting thing is how the flurorescent signs hanging above the road, and there are a lot of them, look during the daylight – slightly grubby yet colourful. I went into Hong Kong across the Star Ferry watching the little boats zip around between huge trawlers with a backdrop of skyscrapers.
Yesterday’s major tourist excursion was to Victoria Peak. This is by way of a fenicular tram that goes up at what seems like almost 45 degrees for parts. You feel yourself being pressed into the back of the seat as you look around at the skyscrapers next to you. The Peak is an amazing aspect of Hong Kong – imagine New York or London’s city with a huge green slope behind it about half again as high as the tallest building. The peak station is wonderfully well designed as an anvil type shape with wonderful curves – it’s visible throughout the city and totally complements the slopes of the mountains. The viewing platform looks down onto the city and, through the smog visiting from industrial China, you get the most wonderful views including the work being done on the new highest tower. Away from the centre you can walk around part of the peak and see the intense greenery that exists on all sides – it’s so calm and serene, an amazing oasis away from the bustle of the city. Reminds me how much I liked seeing mountains from the city when I lived in Vancouver.
Went back into the Temple Street night market to try and get the nerve up to take some pictures. Didn’t quite manage it as saw noone else with cameras around and my one attempt to take a picture of an amusing gas recharge card (a play on the word ‘cash’ and ‘gas’) lead to an upset shop assistant. Did however buy a pile of rip off DVDs, including LOTR II for a tenner, some fake watches (one of which already doesn’t work) and some cute cartoon character related merchandise. Hamtoro is so cute!
Today’s big excursion prior to falling asleep was to the Hong Kong Museum of Art including my first trip on the wonderfully clean and cheap (HK$40, around 30p) subway. One thing I loved about the subway is that all the carriages are joined together – it’s as if there’s only one very, very long carriage that twists and turns through the tunnels. At times you can see for hundreds of metres down the rows of people – now why don’t other cities do that?
At the museum I focussed on the calligraphy section, including a display of the most famous plum tree and bambo paintings. At some point I will definately have a go at calligraphy of chinese characters – only have to learn an entire language on the way, how hard can it be? The main exhibition was of a guy called Lu Shokun (pronounced Loy Show-kwan) who started from tradition Chinese painting styles and then invented a movement of Zen abstracts in the early 70s. Wonderfully simple yet stunning painting on long scrolls of paper using only very few colours – mostly black with splashes of red or blue. Beautiful. What’s perhaps more amazing is that he died at 56, but until the age of 35 he worked as a port inspector, so this immense body of work was done in a very short time. He reminded me of many ways of Picasso, as they both started out from a classical background.
Hong Kong is an amazing place. So much of it seems familiar from New York and other Chinatowns but it is very much its own thing. Who knows what I’ll see tomorrow…