An uncomfortable night on the sofa, just me and Franz the dog. I dreamt of cockroaches, and my attempts to kill as many as possible. They were in my house in England, and I was sleeping on the sofa there, too. A weird dream. Franz was having nightmares too. He was yelping in his sleep. He woke up and cowered beside me, shaking. I comforted him, and he calmed down eventually. It got quite hot in the front room, and I couldn’t find the air-con remote. It was in my room, which was now Larry’s room. Damn. I went back to sleep and woke at 6:30am, which is when Larry gets up to go to work. He apologized for kicking me out of my own room. No worries. Off he went for a full days work, in the hope of finding his apartment keys. After my night on the sofa, I wished him the best of luck with finding them!
I quickly jumped back into my room, switched on the air-con, and slept for another 2 hours. Alex woke me up at 8:30am. Showered, changed, had breakfast, then caught the MTR to Central – a direct line which takes about 30 minutes. He had to teach for 2 hours, and was then free for 6 hours, before teaching again for 3 hours and finishing at 9:45pm. I killed the morning by taking a tram to Central from Admiralty, which is just next to Pacific Place, from where you can walk up to the British Council. I walked around Central, taking photos of the Cenotaph and City Hall, a gothic-style building surrounded by skyscrapers – an awkward contrast of tradition and modern architecture. I also went up the streets towards Lan Kwai Fong and further up. I got a coffee at Pacific Coffee Company, read a newspaper, checked my emails. Relaxed. Walked up the street towards Soho. The little steep streets are full of local character – little markets, old men squatting on wooden stools polishing businessmen’s shoes, people pushing carts and trolleys through the bustling crowds, tiny shops that looked as old as the ancient shopkeepers in them. I was in the mid-levels now. It’s hilly, dense, and a labyrinth of culture and surprises. It’s got charm.
I was lost, and didn’t know how to get back to Pacific Place. Alex suggested heading down to level ground and getting a tram, which would take me to Admiralty, so I did just that, meeting him at the tram station. We went from there to a huge Dim Sum restaurant – a busy place, full of suited up locals. Alex had made a reservation, and we were ushered inside a huge banquet hall, where lots of little old women pushed trolleys piled high with baskets of dim sum. Every woman carted around different selections, and all you had to do was call one over. We picked a few baskets to start us off, and got some jasmine tea. We finished the meal with the customary egg tarts dessert, and then headed out. Alex fancied seeing the other side of HK Island, so we took a taxi to Stanley.
Stanley is a lovely little area that could almost pass for any of England’s seaside towns. Shops line the pavements. There’s a market, a Maritime Museum, boats dotting the harbour, a beach, and even a Mr Whippy ice-cream van. We bought a Mr Whippy, and wandered around this charming side of HK. The sea breeze was chilly and fresh, and the sounds of the seaside were like therapeutic music to the ears after the relentless din of HK. We had taken a taxi there, but we took a bus back. HK is incredibly well-connected by public transport. It’s very cheap, reliable, and frequent. I was becoming more and more impressed with the place.
Alex had to go back to work, so I had around 4 hours to kill. I decided to go to Tsing Tsai Tsu. I got a ferry across as darkness fell. As soon as I got off the ferry, I had Indian men and men of Middle Eastern descent and dodgy locals offering everything from fake Rolexes to hash to women to coke. They refer to Kowloon as the ‘other side’. It’s a place with an edge. A lot more character than HK Island. Ruffians, rogues and prostitutes are abundant on this side. I walked through Kowloon Park, which was full of men on benches with something to sell, and Indonesian maids selling themselves. It’s actually a very pleasant park, with a lake in which a hundred pink flamingos chatter amidst the backdrop of neon lights and tall skyscrapers. I wandered around to the other side and to the pier to take some snaps of the night scene. Wonderful views.
I became hungry, so went to Pizza Express for a delicious roman base American hot pizza, washed down with a beer. I like the narrow streets here, with plenty of bars and restaurants. I went for a long walk. Had a pint of guiness in an Irish bar, then caught the ferry to Wan Cai to meet Alex. Went to ‘The Doghouse’ slogan – ‘we’ve all been in it’ for a beer to watch the night unfold in its slightly sleazy glory. Wan Cai is notorious as the sleazy area of HK, though it’s nothing compared to the outrageous things you see in Orchard Towers in Singapore, and Orchard Towers is of course not a patch on anything in Thailand. Alex and I had a drink, went for a walk down the neon-soaked street, then caught the last train back. What a great day.