China (Hong Kong) 07.02.2009 - 11.02.2009

Here we go! (Location: Hong Kong)
This is just a quick note from Hong Kong... Arrived here safely a couple of hours ago. Seems like a buzzing city full of people, shopping malls and neon signs. Reminds me somehow of Singapore and Japan. More comprehensive report can be expected (hopefully) tomorrow!

 

Biggest Buddha and some other sights  (Location: Hong Kong)
The second day in Hong Kong is almost over... Spent the whole day sightseeing mostly on the island of Lantau that is much more laidback than the downtown area. One of the places I visited was the biggest outdoor Buddha statue in the world - quite impressive indeed. Another interesting spot was the small fishing village of Tai Po nearby - could not believe that I was just about half an hour away from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong downtown area! Anyway quite a hectic city and not the best place for pedestrians. I don't think that I'll be staying here for long, I think I'll continue somewhere with some decent beach life soon. And Hong Kong is quite small when it comes to sights, you can explore quite a lot in a just a couple of days!

Eli varsin aktiivinen paiva takana, lahdin heti aamusta ihmettelemaan pilvenpiirtajia - guest housesta on vain parin korttelin matka rantaan, josta avautuu vaikuttavat nakymat Hong Kongin saaren puolella olevaan keskustaan. Kavelen hetken aikaa rantabulevardia, jossa on yhtena nahtavyytena paikallinen "Avenue of Stars", joka on siis kopio Hollywoodin vastaavasta filmitahtien nimilla koristellusta kadusta. Starat ovat ilmeisesti lahinna kiinalaisia ainakin nimien perusteella, eipa juuri tule tuttuja nimia vastaan...

Paatan siirtya Hong Kongin saaren puolelle. Star Ferry-niminen lautta kuljettaa nopeasti yli meren ja hetken kuluttua olenkin pilvenpiirtajien keskella. Tata puolta ei selvastikaan ole tehty jalankulkijoille - jalkakaytavat risteilevat usein ajoratojen ylapuolella ja vahan valia saa hakea oikeaa kaytavaa lapi ostoskeskusten etta paasee haluamaansa paikkaan. Pilvenpiirtajat ovat kylla vaikuttavia mutta kyllastyn nopeasti harhailemaan liikenteen joukossa.

Jatkan matkaa tsekkaamaan jo mainitsemaani Buddha-patsasta, joka loytyy helposti metromatkan ja mielenkiintoisen koysirata-ajelun jalkeen. Patsas on aika vaikuttava mutta muuten alueella ei ole juurikaan nahtavaa (paitsi hienot maisemat). Ihailtuani tarpeeksi maisemia ajan bussilla pieneen kalastajakylaan, jossa aika tuntuu pysahtyneen... Paaluille rakennetut talot ovat jotenkin lohduttoman nakoisia mutta ihmiset nayttavat viihtyvan.

Palaan keskustaan, talla kertaa lautalla Lantaun toiselta puolelta. Hengailen jonkun aikaa kaupungilla ja syon jotain nuudelimattoa jossakin kuppilassa jonka nimi ei jaanyt mieleen. Klo 20 rannassa alkaa paivittainen (!) valoshow, jossa pilvenpiirtajien seinissa olevat neon-valot ja laserit vilkkuvat musiikin tahdissa. Hieman hammentava kokemus, vaikuttavampiakin on nahty...

On aika siirtya guest houseen lepailemaan... Kyseessa on muuten varmaan yksi pienimmista huoneista joissa olen yopynyt, toisaalta tama on myos yksi siisteimmista! Paikka on ilmeisesti juuri remontoitu ja kaikkialla on siistia kuin sairaalassa olisi... Muutenkin vahan kummallinen paikka - kyseessa on 16-kerroksinen talo jonka alakerrassa on jonkunlainen c-luokan ostoskeskus ja ylakerroksissa lukuisia vastaavia 'majataloja'. Alue tuntuu olevan jonkinlainen Little India / Africa, silla hississa ja kadulla tulee vastaan vahan valia naiden alueiden kansalaisia. Varsinkin intialaiset ovat jatkuvasti kauppaamassa kelloja ja muuta roinaa. Tosin tyypit ovat ilmeisen rehellisia silla he mainostavat niita avoimesti 'copy Rolex:eina'. Mutta ilmeisen rasittavaa toimintaa pidemman paalle!

Vaccination, hard-to-buy flight tickets and a police raid (Location: Hong Kong)
This entry summarizes the interesting day I had in HK on Feb 10th... I had a couple of practical things to take care about, starting with an injection of vaccination that I still needed to take. That was actually easier than I thought, I found a very professional-looking private clinic from the downtown area, walked in with the prescription from my doctor and after 15 minutes it was done. Price of 25 euros was more than reasonable compared compared to Finnish prices of medical services!

Then came the challenging task that I thought to be easy. My next destination will be Philippines so I wanted to buy a flight ticket from the local budget airline Cebu Pacific. I had already tried using their website but after several failed attempts I realized that they don't accept foreign credit cards! So I had to go to their office in HK. When I came there at around 1pm it was closed - they seemed to have a 1-hour break every day at that time! I waited and came back after an hour. This time the office was open but already packed with a dozen filipinos and some brits - it was really tiny and the lines were long already. I stood in line for 15 minutes before seeing the sign that said that they do not take credit cards at all! Fortunately they let me do the reservation but I needed to come back to pay for the tickets. I was finally done at around 3pm!

In the evening there was an interesting incident in the building where I was staying. I was on my way to the Internet cafe downstairs when I was stopped by policemen that asked for my passport. They were busy doing the same for the numerous immigrants that were in the building and I realized that most of the businesses were closed! So obviously they were making some kind of raid to find illegal immigrants? Anyway I did not have any issues and they just put a red stamp on my hand as a proof of having the right to stay in HK!

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