After the earthquakes scuppered our plans to travel to Nepal, we had to find an alternative route out of Tibet, before our Chinese visas ran out. We flew to Guangzhou in the South of China, where we had just one day before we had to leave the country. We visited Enning Road, the Canton Tower and had to shelter for nearly an hour from a torrential rain shower. The next day we took a train to Hong Kong.
We had briefly visited Hong Kong last year on our way to New Zealand, but were glad to have another chance to see a bit more. After a month in China, it felt very easy being in Hong Kong, where you could read all of the signs, ask questions in English and the toilets were comparatively amazing! We treated ourselves to a nicer hotel than our usual accommodation and were lucky to get a free upgrade to a room with a partial view over Victoria Harbour.
On our last visit to Hong Kong the weather had been bad and we hadn’t been able to see anything from Victoria Peak or the Tian Tan Buddha statue. Our first day was a mission to rectify this and we started by taking the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak. This time we had good weather and were rewarded with clear views across the harbour. In the afternoon we took the cable car from Tung Chung to see the Tian Tan Buddha. The cable car had spectacular views across the bay and it was interesting to watch the aeroplanes taking off and landing on Airport Island. (This was the same place that we had struggled to land, in bad weather conditions, on our way to Sydney, at the start of our trip in September!) We climbed up to see the Tian Tan Buddha, which stands at an impressive 34m and is the largest seated Buddha statue in the world. That evening Alex’s old boss Bowie, who lives in Hong Kong, treated us to a lovely dinner in Kowloon, overlooking the harbour. Thank you very much Bowie!
Whilst we were there, we did a day trip to the former Portuguese colony of Macau; which is a strange mix of the colonial past, with Portuguese buildings, squares and Catholic Churches, melded with ultramodern ostentatious casinos, that crowd the waterfront. We visited the ruins of St Paul’s Church and spent a few hours in the Macau Museum, which gave some interesting insights into Macau’s maritime past and the melting pot of cultures that have lived there. From the boat, we were interested to see that China appear to be building a new bridge from the mainland to Hong Kong. In the midst of the political disputes between China and Hong Kong, it will be interesting to see how Hong Kong changes as it gets closer to full absorption back into China.
Back in Hong Kong, we spent some time exploring Hong Kong Island. We took a bus around the island to the area where Alex’s Grandad had lived a few decades earlier. That evening we took the Star Ferry across to Kowloon, to watch the Light Show and see the junk boats from the Avenue of the Stars.
The next day, we took a train back to the Chinese mainland and then on to Xiamen, on the East coast of China…