Who Are You and What Are you Doing to Me?

February 4, 2011

koi-feeding.jpgI prefer to travel on my own.  It’s safer. I can respond to my own instincts and not have to try and explain what I am doing or why I am doing it. I know my limits. I see events unfolding and can either avoid or engage them, usually with plenty of time on my side.  If there is an ornery taxi driver I only have to deal with him.  If I take a wrong turn (it happens occasionally) I know it quickly, and can circle back without any grumbling. A gun in the face is something only I have to deal with (those stories will out one day). I only have to watch my own back. Every step is an adventure, not something to be endured.  I can explore any time of the day, poke up any alley I please, engage anyone I care to, avoid those I deem prudent to steer around.

So what the heck am I doing travelling with you lot?

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A Birds Eye View of Hong Kong

February 4, 2009

grey-parrot-290.jpgWe walked down Boundary Street today after alighting from the train at Price Edward Station. It was a clear day and the high hills and steep slopes of the New Territories, which in theory stretch out from the other side of the road and extend to the China border, were clear and sharp. My eye was distracted by the aerials and domes which anoint each peak, taking me back to more belligerent times. We walked and walked and there was nothing as we approached the stadium on our right to suggest the bird market was imminent. Years of poking around these sorts of places have taught me to hang in there – your surprise is always just around the corner. As indeed it was. Read more

Group or Solo

February 1, 2009

neon-group.jpgI am talking about travel! I have numerous solo experiences and only two, maybe three or four group travel experiences. And this one to Hong Kong is my first experience leading a group on any sort of travel ( I do not count taking troops out on a military exercise in this category!). Sitting here in Hong Kong fighting falling asleep and capturing a few thoughts about what is different about the two.

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Perowne Barracks Phantoms

January 30, 2009

perowne-barracks.jpgI am staying at the old Gurkha (British Army) Barracks at Perowne in Hong Kong. Tuen Mun to be precise. 2 Castle Road to be even more exact. It is a visit that is strangely affecting me in a way I was not expecting at all. Let me test the feelings and see what it is that is moving me.(Photo: Michael) Read more

Maid of Honour

January 29, 2009

filipino-maids.jpgSunday is “maids day” in Hong Kong. We passed a flood of them pouring down the hill towards Central as we made our way to the tram terminus. Filipinos and Indonesians mainly. Like their sisters in the Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore. But my experience of them here in China is coloured by the abuse I know they suffer in Saudi Arabia (this BBC article only touches the tip of the iceberg)  and other places, and as they wave and smile at us I wonder how many suffer the same afflictions here. Read more

A Silent Death in Hong Kong

January 28, 2009

peak-view-of-hong-kong290.jpgCultural impressions can occur in a range of different ways. You can walk up the back streets of Beijing and watch a man have his ablutions on a tin tray at one o’clock in the morning. Or drive the escarpments of Eastern Tibet and take an English class in a village which cannot ever recall a Caucasian visitor. Or you can spend five hours in the middle of the night in a post check Accident and Emergency ward in Hong Kong with a friend awaiting test results taken by an attentive doctor. Read more

Hong Kong Waterfront

August 21, 2007

I am not sure what to make of Hong Kong. There is something about all that glass and steel which is very appealing. But the Kowloon markets, alleys, narrow streets, dodgy goods, poor lighting, gazillion product types, and general hawker atmosphere that tugs even more firmly at my sensibilities than the western elements of this town. Perhaps in the end it is an amalgam of all these things that make Hong Kong unique.

Late last night I wandered the fish markets, comprised mainly of hawkers trying to offload eels from their wicker baskets. Maybe at the end of the day it is only eels that are left. It still has a flavour of the old Hong Kong about it, and that illusion can be maintained as long as you don’t let your gaze lift too far from the baskets and shrivelled old ladies trying to sell you something live and jumpy – else you find yourself looking into the windows of five star hotels. A few short blocks away I met and chatted with a young man who was standing at a deserted wharf, not far from a cruise ship, with a small roll of line and attempting to snare the smallest of harbour fish. He was not doing it for a meal but for the recreation. (I thought, unkindly, he needed a trip to far north Queensland to get some trevally on his line). But we enjoyed a conversation usually shared by fishermen – bait., lines, hooks, family who don’t understand. A universal language. I left him with nothing in his bucket but a hopeful look was on his face.

This afternoon I wandered in blistering heat along the waterfront and mixed with the nouveau rich, of which there were thousands, all walking with the disbelieving air of having made it from the mainland to Hong Kong. And were wondering what all the fuss was about. In the heat of the day the waterfront was a baking oven with the occasional jarring icon out on display. This evening it came alive with crowds, ice cream, coke and a carnival atmosphere. But only the Chinese seem to be able to create a carnival atmosphere while they all mill around and look at each other.
September 2004