Our first day unchaperoned in HK as Australia son and HK son & his OH are all back to work in this wondrous termite mound. After a late start we wander downhill through the mid levels to revisit the Man Mo temple,one of the oldest buildings in HK , hot with incense inside and containing so much that is not understood by Western eyes.
We continue along Hollywood Road admiring the fine Chinese antiques including intricately detailed and complex carvings made from Mammoth tusks from Siberia and down through “Cat Street” market with it’s Red China tat of Chairman Mao watches and workers posters to arrive eventually at a series of streets that seem to sell nothing but birds nests, Ginseng and the vast variety of dried fish and other eerie sea creatures.
The heat and humidity are now running at sauna level so we take a tram to Wan Chai. After the Star Ferry, the trams that run West to East along the north coast of Victoria Island are the next best value for cheap sightseeing, the narrow trams have open windows with a cooling breeze and you get a high view of the city, it’s extraordinary architecture and the teeming crowds at their daily business.
Wan Chai, once a disreputable suburb, is now an extension of central Hong Kong with yet more towering office buildings and a maelstrom of mostly eastern humanity on the streets below.Eating places of every type abound and after passing up the opportunity to sample beef tendon, fish maw or Ox tripe in a noodle soup we settling for a Thai equivalent of Joe’s Caff. A meal of Red Chicken Curry and rice, a Beef Pad Thai and two iced Longan drinks (I don’t know either – Google it!) costs around £6. We have some errands to run for our hosts and the supplier of a watch battery points us in the direction of 298 Hennesey Road, a labyrinth of computer shops selling everything you could possibly need.
After yet more street wandering we take a tram and then a taxi back to our high temporary nest in the mid levels for a siesta. As teatime approaches we walk out again into first the outstanding botanical gardens with it’s small zoo of primates and birds before navigating the Gordian knot of the flyover roads to reach Hong Kong Park, a remarkable oasis with lakes and another aviary surrounded by the great bastions of commerce.
We leave the park as dusk falls into the bustle again. Like lemmings office workers emerge from every side making their way to their destinations unknown along walkways and overpasses. We follow almost aimlessly and find ourselves at the base of the Bank of China. I recall the scene in the film “Gladiator” where the African gladiator arrives in Rome, gazes at the Colosseum and says in wonder:” I didn’t know men could build things like this!” Well, it seems then that the architect, I.M.Pei, was no mere mortal.
Later that evening we meet as a family to eat a meal at Nha Trangh, a Vietnamese restaurant in Wellington street. Saigon beer washes down Shrimp and Pomelo Salad, Fried Soft Shell Crab, Vietnamese ravioli and bowls of Pho soup, the staple noodle dish of Vietnam. (As I type this, I have a further 5 days of blog posts in draft form – Life is for living , not blogging just now)