Hongkong, 16 – 17 May
Kowloon provided a welcome break in the journey. Our hotel was situated in what looked like a Protestant enclave in the city, the view from our window being entirely filled by a large Lutheran church and associated schools. We tried to overcome the jet lag by getting up early for a swim in what was advertised as the indoor hotel pool. It turned out to be a rather odd establishment run by the YMCA with walls covered in signs forbidding most activities. The strangest announced that ‘When Typhoon Flag 8 is hoisted, pool will be closed and sold tickets will not be refund’.
Having recently read John le Carre’s The Honourable Schoolboy, we wanted to get to the summit of famous Victoria Peak, but had to make do with a view across the misty harbour.
We pottered about the foreshores in the rain, enjoying the outdoor works of the Kowloon Art Museum.
On the final day we took the one hour ferry trip across to Macau, avoided the numerous casinos but loved the meld of European and Chinese architecture. Not surprisingly, the highlight for Alan was the ‘Pastelaria’ where we sampled almond biscuits and Portuguese tarts.
Macau was only relinquished by Portugal in 1997, on condition that Beijing allowed it to be a separate administrative region for 50 years. Originally a fishing village, it now depends on tourism and gambling (Jamie Packer owns one of the casinos) to survive economically. The place seems much more relaxed and easy-going than Hongkong.
Looking for a meal before the midnight flight, we returned to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant which is so popular you take a number and wait for up to an hour to be admitted. Everything we tried was delicious, but the baked buns filled with barbecued pork were heavenly. And the entire meal cost less than the single drink we had back at the hotel while waiting for the shuttle bus to the airport.