Monday, 23 March 2009

Adjusting to HK

My internal Sat nav has kicked in. Without having to consult a map, i’ve navigated myself through Kowloon Park, witnessing pink Flamingos and “kung fu corner” and down to the Star Ferry Terminal at the famous Hong Kong harbour. The view is breathtaking, a sprawling mass of skyscrapers set into a mountainous bay reflecting onto the calm blue waters of the harbour. I bought my ticket over to central Hong Kong island, (for about 17p) and enjoyed the stunning views as I crossed over the water, it was 7pm and it was almost night time.
As I strolled through the streets trying to find a vantage point where I could have a beer and take it all in, I had to walk through a long series of interconnected walkways. Sitting all around me were literally, hundreds, perhaps thousands.... of women. For miles and miles and in almost every walkway, park, grassy knoll or area of free space available sat large groups of women. Cardboard boxes, sheets and newspapers had all been gathered to form makeshift picnic areas on the floor. The women were sitting, chatting, eating street food or food brought from home in Tupperware containers. They were playing cards, some were drinking, many were dancing or listening to music, but all were relaxing and having a good time. It really bowled me over, i’ve never seen anything like it before, why so many women just hanging about on the street...?

I noticed a lively looking narrow street that went climbing up into the hills, still in a quest for a cold beer i began climbing the street.. oh fantastic and escalator, wait... another escalator..... hold on...yet another escalator. Hmmm. I had wandered into the Soho area, which as you can imagine is a hive of bars and restaurants and full of people having a good time. The streets go far up into the hills and are all connected by an elaborate system to escalators rising up through the sprawling streets. I went higher and higher in search of the top... i never found it. I must have been on about 40 or 50 escalators up through the streets and I had still only reached the “mid levels”. I darted into a nice looking bar were a friendly barman poured me a large cold beer. I chatted to him for a while, he was Philippino called Mark. He gave me some bearings and told me of a good vantage point. He also enlightened me about the women in the street. Apparently its a weekly phenomena. Every Sunday, all of the women of the service industry gather together for their night off. All the housemaids, kitchen staff, hotel workers and cleaners gather together socially on the streets of Hong Kong to eat, play and relax. Sometimes there are so many that the Police have to close the streets to accommodate them all. He couldn’t explain why they choose to do this instead of be at home with their families... its just the ways its been as long as he can remember. He’s been here 14 years.

After a couple days of wandering around Hong Kong I noticed its much like London in many ways. If you’ve ever sat on the Tube and been the only English person on the carriage, will HK is much the same from the Asian perspective. The streets are filled with Indian, French, English, American, Italian, Spanish and Arab people. Its a complete mixing bowl and I felt i fitted into the mix without raising any eyebrows at all. A westerner’s face is nothing unusual here; there is an enormous ex pat community working in finance or tourism. I feel safe, its easy to blend in and find your way around. I wonder how long that feeling will last as I continue my travels.....


  1. Hey Jools, just stumbled across your blog via Facebook, having just returned from travelling a similar route myself. I'll keep reading yours to escape from the grim reality of the UK, and to relive my own adventure too. Enjoy! Sam Walsh

  2. As you can see I am now an officially signed up follower. so glad that you are having a good time, it all looks wonderful. Take care xu Mum