Trip to China – Hong Kong – Day 3
28 March 2012, Wednesday
The day began with another bus tour – the one that led out of town. The view, especially along the southern coast, strewn with beaches, was simply amazing, but there wasn’t really anything worth a separate description, unless I would keep repeating: “Oh my god, how beautiful! The sea, the hills, the wonderful smell of flowers!” And the smell was indeed worth these words, it was totally unfamiliar, but still very, very nice.
It is very prestigious to live in the Repulse Bay area (called so, because it once used to be a nest of pirates, which the British troops repulsed severely and eventually eradicated), therefore housing here is very expensive, reaching HK$200,000 (about 26,000 USD or 20,000 AZN) per sq m.
The highlight of the journey was lunch at the Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant in the Aberdeen fishing village. It can be called a village just conditionally, as it also has high-rises, just like the city does. It was quite suprising to encounter the name of a small Scottish town in subtropical Hong Kong. It turned out that it was named after Lord George Hamilton-Gordon, the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, who was Scottish. Generally, everything here is so saturated with Scottish spirit, that even during the handover ceremony (sovereignty transfer from United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China) in 1997 there were Scottish soldiers marching to the buzz of bagpipes.
Aberdeen is given a special flavour with sampans – traditional boats, in which the Tanka people used to live in the past, and sometimes even live now. We took a ride on one of these sampans which brought us to the restaurant.
The floating restaurant consists of two decks: the top deck is a restaurant serving western cuisine, while the first deck is a fine Chinese (Cantonese) restaurant. We chose the latter. The prices of some dishes, quite frankly, were off the scale, reaching thousands (shark fin soup, for example) or even tens of thousands (fish maw) of Hong Kong dollars. We weren’t really up for spending a fortune on food, so went for quite ordinary stuff we were familiar with: dim sum, sweet and sour pork and chicken noodles. We were served such a huge mountain of noodles, that even after jointly and vibrantly eating as much as we could, it still looked almost untouched. The degree of our satiety could best be described by the fact that we couldn’t bring ourselves to have dinner later that day.
The restaurant turned out to be quite close to the city – we saw some familiar skyscrapers on our way back. By the way, skyscrapers in Hong Kong usually get nicknames related to their shape: for example, the building of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Forces (the former head office of the British army) is referred to as the “upside-down Gin bottle” (which I didn’t get the chance to take a photo of), and the Lippo Centre buildings, looking like trees with climbing koalas, are simply called the “Koala trees” (in the photo below).
After lunch, our high spirits left us. It happened in the Wan Chai Computer Centre. One would have thought this was a paradise for electronics lovers where they could just shop their butts off. However, being in a space, divided into tiny compartments, littered with goods and packed with people, felt somewhat depressing for some reason. Even buying good phones for quite low prices didn’t make us feel much better.
To recover from a bad mood we decided to visit the Victoria Peak again. Here, too, things didn’t go very smoothly: to buy our tram tickets we had to wait in a queue probably a kilometre long, and also we completely forgot to ask the tour staff about round trips to the Lantau Island, which we were planning for the next day.
Nevertheless, we visited the local “Madame Tussauds”. The exhibition, of course, mainly consists of local celebrities’ figures, among which Jackie Chan’s one stands out (so much, that taking a picture next to it costs money). In general, the wax population is far less than in London, which is quite logical.
Having waited until dusk, we again visited the viewing terrace, where, almost gone with the raging wind, we enriched our photo collection with the pictures of the evening harbour with a bird’s-eye view.