Saturday, 8 March 2014

First Impressions

Hong Kong is a very small place, only 825 square miles including Lantau, Kowloon, the Net Territories and its  260 outlying islands. And with only a quarter of that space developed, it’s a very very small place for all 7 million people to live.

So they stack. The city’s high rises are ubiquitous, at least here on the Central/mid-levels side of the island. For all I know there are big houses with wide verandas on the south side of the island.

It's also very orderly. At the train stations, someone takes the time to line up the trollies.

This is the view from my road.

The world's longest outdoor escalator. Aseries of outdoor escalators descend (or climb, depending on your perspective) 800 meters to carry tens of thousands of people to and from work each day. Believe me, escalators are necessary in this city. The hills here turn the whole place in to one big stairmaster.

My apartment at Shama Midlevels. It's tiny, not unlike living in a boat.

My new neighbourhood

Hospital Road, in the Midlevels.

The terrapins and weirdly bulbous goldfish live in the apartment's lobby.

I feared this terrapin had died, but he just enjoyed floating on his back.

This is my "road" down to Central.

My view at night...

Sheung Wan

Sheung Wan is a short walk from the skyscrapers and upscale boutiques of Central, but it's a million miles away culturally. In street after narrow street sit shops selling every kind of dried thing that I've never even contemplated putting in my mouth ...

These are birds' nests... made with the spit of the bird. They go in soup.

Dessicated seahorses...

And sea slugs...

Mushrooms, I think...

And dried lizard... all for eating.

The Bird Market

Even if I hadn’t read (and unusually, remembered) that Yeun Po Bird Garden was at the end of the flower market, I’d have known by the noise. A cacophony of chirps, whistles, screeches and hoots filled the air. The garden is really a wide walkway with flowers and trees on either side, and it was this that I’d come to visit.

But even better than the birds are the men who come to the garden to WALK their birds.

Each day the city’s songbird owners take Tweety in his cage to the garden to talk to the other birds. The men, for they are almost exclusively men, hang their cages next to each other along bars under the eaves of bird market buildings (which abut the garden). Then they sit and chat as their birds catch up with each other on the previous days’ events. It seemed odd that there was only one woman, who sat by herself on the other side of the garden, but then I wondered if this is the Chinese equivalent of men’s poker games.

Trams and Markets (vegetarians, look away now!)

In Central, you're never very far from the water

The trams are old (over 100 years), charmingly constructed of wood and iron, and don’t go more than about 5 mph.

Everywhere the city feels exotic.

There are street markets everywhere, stocking everything for the dining table.

Yes that is a tail.

Who needs electric scales?

No comment.

The HSBC Lions, Stephen and Stitt.