Thursday, 20 November 2014

Back to the Asia

I love Hong Kong! I've been here one day, and it's a fantastic city. I find that when I arrive in a new place I get a feel for whether it's somewhere I want to leave the next day, stay for a while, or I could live there. I think I could live in Hong Kong.

I love big cities, I love history and culture, I love Asia, and I love Cantonese food. What more could I need!?

It feels like taking a breath of fresh air after Australia, where I felt my travelling spirit stagnate slightly. Australia is just too similar in culture to the UK, and this year is about learning new things about the world. Hong Kong is a fascinating blend of old and new, Western and Eastern, and modernity and tradition. It's also a good stepping stone for me returning to Asia, as English is widely spoken and most signs are bilingual. Plus it's clean and it works very efficiently. If you're going to China, Hong Kong is a good place to test the water. I've been to Shanghai and Beijing, and that was a big shock at the time, particularly going from ultra-clean, ultra-polite Japan.

Now I say "returning to Asia" because I lived in Tokyo twice, as documented in my other blog, Memoirs of a Gaijin. I've been itching to come back to Asia and experience it again, and even more than that, to go back to Japan and see it after four years' being away. And that will finally happen on Tuesday! I absolutely can't wait.

But for now, Hong Kong is keeping me very happy. I took a trip on the cable car up to the Tian Tan Buddha, which is the world's largest seated bronze Buddha, and there was a very pretty monastery in the mountains as well.

The village you first reach was incredibly contrived, and one of the 'traditional' buildings was a Subway. But the surrounding peaks and the actual temples were beautiful. I was also asked to take photos with two strangers. I'd forgotten that happens! I need to get used to feeling like a celebrity again.

I then came back to Kowloon, where my hostel is, to have a wander through the streets and get lost in the city. I stumbled upon the pro-democracy protesters' camp in Mong Kok, and had a read of their signs and posters. I saw a lot of the students sleeping in tents under handwritten 'No photo' signs. I also saw that they're planning to occupy the British consulate tomorrow afternoon, due to the UK government's lack of response to China's defiance of the treaty both countries signed in 1997. No doubt I'll be reading about that on the BBC news app soon enough.

Now I have four more full days to keep exploring this city, with its British plug sockets, double-decker buses and metro stations with names like Prince Edward, but all the while with the vibrant colours and neon lights that accompany life in any wealthy Asian city. Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend who I went to primary school with, and then Hong Kong Island is my oyster.

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