It was welcome back to Hong Kong for me this week, with my return here for 6 weeks of examining – my first time examining here since 2014, so it was back to the Panorama Hotel again, and its view of the Hong Kong Harbour….
…..and rather large breakfast!
It is not often that I think of Hong Kong as being very sport oriented. Indeed this last week has been too hot to make me think of any serious outdoor sport. However in my first full day here, I was fortunate enough to see an international bicycle race here in Hong Kong….and see it from very close!
The event, on Sunday, was the Hong Kong Cyclothon. This was a full day event, beginning at 5.30 in the morning and finishing about 5.00 in the evening. It must have created havoc on the roads, as many roads in a busy section of Hong Kong were closed.
I watched two races in the morning. They were the children’s races, with one race being those accompanied by an adult and the other with just children racing on their own. It was great to see so many children on bicycles, ranging from very small to almost adult sized bicycles. They completed about four laps of a course between the towering buildings of Hong Kong. It was amazing to watch some of them pedalling so quickly on their little machines – yet going so slowly. The participants were mostly boys, but it was good to see a few girls managing to be pretty competitive.
After a break – for lunch – I returned to watch the men’s international race, including some professional teams from Canada and Australia. It was fascinating to see this in action. By jumping over a small obstacle, I was able to cross the road in a long gap between riders and stand almost literally into the middle of the race. I spent some time talking to an expatriate Irishman, who was well involved with a number of the riders. He was timing the gaps for them and letting them know as they rode past. Eventually we both decided the policeman at the side of the road was beginning to look as if he might move us on shortly, so we moved away to the relative safety of the roadside.
Imagine, if you will, riding a three-hour race on a fairly bumpy circuit with several very sharp corners – which take some managing on those very narrow racing tyres – designed for speed, not for comfort…oops…I meant to say “not for control”…. Add to this the fact that it was about 32 degrees here. The riders must have worked very hard to complete this race. While not exactly the Tour de France, it was quite an experience to be so close to these kinds of athletes, whom I have often admired for their fitness level.
Monday was a wandering type of day – finding my feet again in the districts around the hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was too hot for a major trek after picking up the paperwork for my first week’s work, so it was good to use the air-conditioning to stay cool. I also went up to where I am working mostly for the next 5 weeks – Diamond Hill. It was great to catch up with Veronica’s Mum there in the afternoon.
At Diamond Hill there is a well-known park, Nan Ling Park – right next to the building, in which I am working, so I can go there for a walk, when time permits. It takes about 20 minutes to walk round it, so it will be very useful. As is typical with parks in Hong Kong, there is still a lot of concrete, but there was also a lake in the middle, with a temple in the middle of the lake. Rather beautiful. There is a Bhuddist monastery attached to the park, but I have not yet had time to go and look through it.
I did find a path, of rather dubious integrity in the park, so I followed it back towards the entrance to the park. It was easy, but obviously not often used by the locals. When I emerged at the end of the path, a man who saw me come out looked at me as if I were an alien.
One of the things, that I notice about Hong Kong, is the juxtaposition of the countryside and the residential. Notice here how the buildings almost appear to overlook the greenery. We do often think of Hong Kong, the city, but there is a great deal of National Park area here – about 80% of it (according to internet resources) is parkland. However the two are often very close to each other. There is no sense of merging. It is rather like the seasons here now. Spring and Autumn are becoming ever shorter and Summer tunrs into Winter and vice versa…..
Another interesting sign of the times were the flags on the lamp posts, celebrating the 68th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing is starting to say “Roll on 2047”!
One night this week, after reading about a local café, close to the hotel, where the food is meant to be pretty good. I found it – downstairs, under a small, rather dingy hotel. It was rather confusing, as all the way down the stairs were signs advertising a massage parlour, so I hesitated to go down, but after asking somebody, I ventured down. The massage parlour had nicely decorated doors and there was also a small Vintage Whiskey shop there. I found the cafe and, for very little, had a lovely meal of Beef and Tomato noodles (made, not instant noodles), and a ham and cheese sandwish. It was a real find in this tourist area of Hong Kong. I shall return!!
After a week of work, I was quite tired yesterday, but I had arranged to go out to Veronica’s parents place. It was quite an adventure finding it once more, as they live on a large estate not too far from an MTR station, quite far away from where my hotel is. However I found it and after trying to check with the security person (who spoke no English at all), I returned an hour later to meet a nice security lady who allowed me to go to the lifts and up to their apartment. We had a lovely evening, with a meal of Hainan Chicken, Steamed fish and vegetables. They certainly have a “room with a view!”
Today there is a typhoon warning in Hong Kong, so shops etc are closed. It looks like the sort of storm, we in NZ would still carry on as per normal, however I guess the authorities know much better than I do, how dangerous these storms can become. It has allowed me the time to send off my paperwork for the week and write this. Tomorrow is another day. I can continue my explorations if the weather permits.