12 Nov 2013

Delayed weekend in Hong Kong


We were supposed to fly on Friday evening, but 3 minutes made the difference between boarding and staying on the ground. There was nothing we could do, apart from blaming everyone and complaining at every counter of the airport. In the end, the lesser bad was paying a small fee and postponing the flight until Saturday afternoon. With lots of poison in our veins, we left the airport and returned home.


Finally we could board without further incidents and, just 2 hours and a half later, we landed in Hong Kong. We had one day less than expected so we had to make sacrifices, and we agreed Macau would be the one given up. All in all, we had 2 days to see all this humongous city had to offer, so we had no time to waste! After leaving our limited luggage at the guesthouse, we left the room ready to start exploring the big city. Our starting point: Mong Kok.

The lord of the keys, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm
Remains of the day, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
It was early evening and the streets were busy and crowded; lots of people were entering and leaving the underground entrances, waves of pedestrians crossed the wide roads whenever the green lights granted them way, countless street vendors occupied every little corner of the streets to settle their businesses, all of us were bathed in the lights of thousands of neon lights that hung in every facade. We walked around the area for a while, delighted by so much movement and action around us, but it started drizzling so we decided to take the underground and go downtown.

Pedestrian smiles, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Undercrowds, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
We got off at Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Rain had stopped so we resumed our walk, this time down Nathan Rd., full of high rise buildings, branded stores, human beehives and shopping centers. No matter where you looked at, everywhere in this city there are hostels and money changers, stores and restaurants; there is so many people and the space is so limited that it's no surprise the city feels packed, stifling, noisy.

In motion, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm
Urban journey, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm
Just a few hundred meters down the road, we finally reached the famous Victoria Harbour, but we were a few minutes late to see the so called Symphony of lights, therefore we didn't spend much time there; we would return the following day at the appropriate time to see and explore the area at length, so now we headed to another famous spot in this part of the city: Temple St. Night Market.

Romance at the door, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Waiting at the door, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
We were, again, a bit late when we reached there, and many stalls were already closing down their curtains and doors, but this long road still had plenty to offer, so we slowly walked along, seeing the same goods stall after stall, and observing the scenes we are so familiar with from Thailand: the same bargaining, chasing, pretending and cheating though in a different language. After a while, we felt quite hungry so we waited for a table to clear (all restaurants were totally packed and full) and sat down, ready to enjoy our first HK meal.

Last order I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm 
Last order II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
And that was all about our first evening; it started drizzling again and most of the market was already shut down, so we finished our food and drinks and returned to the guesthouse, tired but excited.

Reflected restaurant, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm


We woke up early: there were so many things we wanted to see and do today that we had no time to waste (and the fact that the beds were not specially friendly to our bodies made the decision much easier). After a shower in our micro toilet, we left the room ready for a long day. But first, before we walked too far, we entered the first restaurant we spotted for a generous breakfast. With full stomachs, even the rain that was silently falling seemed less annoying, so we bought a couple of potable umbrellas at the 7/11 and took the underground to our first destination of the day: Nan Lian Gardens.

Layers, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Near & far, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm 
Verticality, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Although they look like they could have been there for centuries, in reality these gardens were built less than ten years ago. The gardens have been designed and built resembling the classical Chinese Gardens, which includes the three basic elements: trees, water and rocks, plus wooden pavilions and bridges; several paths connect the different areas, and all the area is maintained in a very good , beautiful condition. The Gardens are located in the modern, urban environment of Kowloon, and you can see the skyscrapers from anywhere inside the Gardens; however, the atmosphere is so quiet and peaceful that it seems like an oasis of peace and quietude in the heart of the crazy city.

Organic & inorganic, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
King stone, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Once we finished, it was time to take the underground once more, this time to go to Star Ferry Pier, in Victoria Harbor, where we would take the ferry to cross, in just a few minutes, to Hong Kong Island. And finally we were there, amidst impossibly high buildings, winding roads traveled by trams, taxis and buses, hundreds of Filipino maids enjoying their day off, gathered all around Statue Square, cranes and trucks working endlessly to develop the few areas that remain surprisingly unbuilt in the island, and dark grey skies all above us.

Stairlines, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Under construction, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Cold & warm, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
High above, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
A window with views, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm 
Passages, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Wheels and tracks, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Mirror facade, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
What shocked me most was to realize that Hong Kong is indeed a very mountainous island, and there are lots of slopes to climb. Maybe because I live in a very flat city, walking up steep roads was not what I expected, and I found very interesting perspectives thanks to this, camera pointing upwards or downwards to capture stairs, or people walking at low speeds, fighting against gravity. Soho, in particular, was an area I found specially appealing. We walked up and down without any specific destination in mind, we had a nice lunch, a nice coffee, and then we moved on to the next stage.

Opposite directions, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm 
Waiting for the bus, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
The bus is here!, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm 
Taxi line I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm 
Taxi line II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
The long slope, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Nap on the motorbike, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Choices, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
Hybrid culture, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
The Peak. But before we could get on the tram to go to the top of the mountain and enjoy the scenic view of Hong Kong and Kowloon, we had to queue for one hour. It seems we all had the same plan and the same timing, after all!

A question of mouths, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
But it was worth it: we reached The Peak shortly before sunset and, though it was a very cloudy day and the sun was nowhere to be seen, we could witness how the city gradually started waking up, and countless spots of light of multiple colors started appearing everywhere, turning the increasing darkness of evening in a festival of electric fireflies.

16:20, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
16:45, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm 
16:50, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
17:00, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm
And yes, we still had the rest of that night to taste more Hong Kong dishes and delicacies, and one more morning to explore some other corners of the city before flying back to Bangkok the following afternoon, but the pictorial memories of this short trip end here. I will be back, that one is for sure!

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