Thursday, February 7, 2008

Happy New Year, again

After spending our new years eve in Laos and in bed by 10pm we have come to Hong Kong for the lunar new year as celebrated by the Chinese.

Hong Kong RULES!! That was our initial assessment and we have pretty much stuck to it. It is such a friendly place. One of the touts even told me I was too angry before we readapted to the different way of doing things. It is so easy to be here, with signs at every corner telling you which way to the sights, an attendant at the Peak Tram told us that the more expensive option we asked for was not advised that day because the view would not be worth it, and even when we were told off by the Police for sitting on an illegal wall it was a pleasant experience (compare Vietnam where a whistle was blown and we were yelled at accompanied by vicious pointing).

We got our Chinese visa on day one, which was excessively easy. An agency did it for us, for cheaper than the Embassy charge, in a fifth of the time they take. They seem totally legit to boot. Then we did some major shopping, brake pads that were non-existant after the mud (we bought out the shops supply of 7 sets), new inner tubes as our cheapies are falling appart, new seat, polar fleece, neck gaiter, gloves, running shoes, dry bag to carry new purchases... The locals were also out for some serious shopping so the streets were absolutely packed in every direction you could look, which included up and down thanks to the subterranian malls, and concourses. Great fun just looking at what is around, from dirt cheap street markets to the top-o-the-top like windows full of watches all over $50,000.

Then there are the new years activities. A night parade last night covered children balancing in reverse pyramids - going from one on the ground to 5 across on the top row, lion and dragon dancers, USA cheerleaders, and of course the futuristic "Tourist Ostriches" from France. Tonight is the fireworks, with about $7,000,000 about to go up in smoke.

We have started the Chinese tour of world superlatives with the worlds longest escalator, and the worlds largest permanent light and sound display that sees the buildings lighting up in time to music. Many more to come, not least of course the most populous polulation - there is a city just north of here that is 10 million strong. Won't bother you with the name, you have not herard of it and neither had we. Nor had we heard of the 5 others that top 4 million within about 150km. We are off to one of them by boat on Sunday to avoid the bulk of the hugely populated area where HK meets the mainland, and then we are into China proper. A little nerve wracking after this blissful introduction.

Still, it is cool to be getting into the last country of our alliterative bike tour, with about 3 months to Beijing. Pray for good weather!


PS no photos as this place does not have the facilities

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