DIary 1 (and a few days in
Australia (187) which is another
storry) we are back in Hong Kong.
15/7 2002. HONG KONG.
We stuff the last things into the suitcases and head down to the taxi, which arrives on the dot. Check-in has started at the airport, but the flight will be delayed two and a half hours. Then, in return, they provide breakfast, and we are not late to take advantage. The guy in front of us has a hard time understanding he can't take ten centimetre pocket knives with him on the plane. 25 years and Australian, he probably comes from the countryside.
We eat, and wait, and wait, and wait.
Practically no single aircraft leaves without calling named
passengers repeatedly. Don't understand, they don't just fly. Maybe
because they do not want an unaccompanied suitcase and it is not
possible to dig it out. And yet, there is actually one who can pick
up his suitcase by the gate.
The next eight and a half hours are spent eating and zapping around 20 video channels. Here are some great movies, so time flies by pretty quickly. We set the clock back two hours and land in 34 degrees of humid heat. Can handle various formalities and find their suitcase storage. Just check the price and it was lucky. They want 900 DKK to babysit our three small cabin-sized suitcases for three days. They can run me for a while ... Remember something about having the money for the bus. Quite right, they just goes down a hole, and the driver has nothing to give back with. Unfortunately, he is more awake than us, and refuses to accept the English pound that has been sneaking around. It was now worth ten times as much, and then he must have a five. The English pound is also going down in the hole, it must be good to be a bus driver.
Once again, I am impressed with their bamboo scales for up to 70 floors or more. There is a lot of new construction going on along the coast, and incredible water activity. We haven't quite set foot where we lived the last time we were in Hong Kong, but it wasn't too bad. Rikke has some sensations, and we end up being picked up by one from the same hotel. We get a room with air conditioning but without window. In fact I think it's a hit here in town. The room is not big, but nice and clean and we pay well over DKK 500 for two nights.
It is almost nine o'clock before we head out into town to find some dinner. We look somewhat worn, so it must be somewhere without dress code. KFC meets that requirement. First order two menus, but look, they cost near DKK 100 each. Sure enough, things are expensive here in town, but ... Get a couple of burger menus for DKK 25 apiece instead. As Rikke tries to open a burger, she is about to eat the "chef". There is a stumpy chicken and three sliced salad strips. This is just the way it is here; we were spoiled in Australia. We walk straight back to the room, after all, it's been a long day; 20 hours and 7400 kilometres. The night is also warm, about 30 degrees.
16/7 STARBUCKS & MCDONALD.
The rest of the day is spend roughly between shopping and eating. Finds a bag, a pair of shoes and a sweater for Rikke, and a little souvenir for me. Here is everything from the expensive brands, to the very cheapest imitations of them. All we can't find are flower and pet stores. A single shop has a few living potted plants, otherwise we only see plastic flowers. We see some live animals in stores, but there are restaurants. There is also a single with five puppies and other dog remedies, so they are fortunately for pets.
It seems strange that KFC has American Mac Donald hand dryers on the toilets, while McDonald has Dan Dryer from Randers. At noon it pulls up to rain, but it suffices with wind tears until about seven o'clock. Then comes some proper showers, followed by lightning. We haven't tried a proper rainstorm since Fraser Island, it's shown two and a half months ago, but we haven't missed it either.
The cloudy weather has kept the temperature down to 27 degrees, but with a humidity of 87%, it is warm enough. This evening, when it rains, the thermometer drops to near 23 degrees. We pack the little things we have used and bought. We manage to squeeze it back into our suitcases and backpack, but we will have to stay a bit restrricted tomorrow. I read the Hong Kong book again, but can't find anything we need to see. Rikke has talked about a great Buddha figure, but it is on the outskirts and we can spend all day getting out there.
17/7 IPOMOEA'ER AND SEA CUCUMBERS
We throw ourselves into the city where the heath is not completely deadly, as it is gray weather again today. We settle for 27 degrees and 88% humidity. Our residence is a park that we have not yet seen. It turns out, it is very large, and very well maintained. One of the lakes contains a lot of different ducks, black-necked swans (we're half home!), Flamingos, herons, swamp turtles and countless fish. Here are many well-known plants, just in giant sizes.
Swing out into town where we find the local shopping area. Here the goods are divided into streets. One street contains only shops with bathroom tiles, one deals with meat, furniture, women's clothing, mobile phones, hardware, kitchen fittings, and then there is a vegetable street. Here we first find some tubers that resemble Ipomoea's. Can't really figure out, if it's a shop or a waste pile. The woman sitting in front of it wakes up and says "ten dolaar" (12 kroner) and I'm game. Asking what it is, but she has no idea. Maybe it's a waste pile?
Further down the street, some perfect tubers show up, it looks like Stephania's, and their only flaw is the size. Half a meter in diameter, the weight is between 30 and 50 kilos. Trade me to the top of one, which costs 120 kroner. It's too big a fist, and she has 15 big ones lying in the street. She is not for shopping, and I do not bother to spend the rest of my life annoying me, so she chops off the top to me. Get to know it is a "Zar Peter" and it is good for cancer, sore throat, skin diseases and much more. It comes from China.
Here are many vegetables we know, but also some unknown. Most of it is incredibly fresh, also things we only have in the dried version at home. Here are also cut flowers, the roses have nets on the buds, so you can not see how far they are. In a covered market we find a butcher cutting up a pig on the floor. Some meat hangs on hooks, without refrigeration. The neighbour has a net bag with big frogs, others have them in cages. Rikke just catches sight of a soft turtle, when it gets its head chops off and parted. The same shop has other kinds of swamp and land turtles going, and it's not for pets!
Here are live catfish, shrimp, crabs, giant scavengers, different kinds of clams, great snails, big snails, eels and a myriad of different brightly coloured coral reef fish. Here are also dead animals that are dried but smell really nasty. Many are from the sea; big and small squid, shrimp, sea cucumbers, snails and stuff. Others are land-things; scallops, sprays, mushrooms, frogs and other things indefinable.
We get out to Nathan Road again, where (like everywhere else) you cross around in air-con-drip. In some places, the condensation drops are close to rainy weather, and rather annoying. These are the guys who sell Rolex watches and suits as well. Of course, they do not have the goods, but like the hotel hoses, they go around and draw customers to the store. They are sometimes quite overbearing.
Some of the side streets are also only with one type of goods: Ornaments for mobile phones, shells for mobile phones, even those that are not supplied from the factories, goldsmiths with huge diamonds. In between, you can be lucky to find a puppy shop, and somewhere Rikke is allowed to touch. I see a cocker spaniel puppy, who is just too adorable. We pass a business dealing exclusively with live crabs, and only of one kind; mud crabs.
We eat local delicacies for lunch, at a small cosy restaurant, but also complement things from McDonald's. They sell a litre of cold soda for less than ten kroner, and they have comfortable air conditioning. At eight o'clock, we pick up our suitcases and take the bus to the airport. The gate next door has a double queue of 200 meters, good it's not ours. We noticed, on the way in, that there was an airport tax of $80, and have for once remembered to raise money for it. Rikke asks where we pay and is told it has been cancelled, and now are in the ticket. Almost practiced!
We have an hour and a half before checking in, and find their most expensive bar. The plane is fully stocked and three depart for London within an hour. Several months ago, it had sold out; It is a popular route. We take off five minutes past midnight.
Starts the flight watching Monsters Inc., and then sleeps for the next seven hours. We hit a big loop north, and are all the way up and see the midnight sun. Breakfast, a little more TV, and then we land in London. It might have been nice to jump off, as we passed Copenhagen at three o'clock, saving 13 hours. Nevertheless, these two big flights of nine and twelve hours do not feel so long. I'm glad we shared the flight over to Hong Kong, otherwise it's really a killer.
We start by finding a shower. It costs 25 kroner without a towel, 37 with. They just don't take MasterCard. Then we have to exchange Hong Kong pounds. We have paid 250 kroner for the 200 we have left, we get 12 pounds, equivalent to 100 Danish kroner. Minus 38 in exchange fee of course. It is not us, who profit from this! Return to the bath and pay to an unusually angry bitch. Then go to a café and spend the last few pounds on coffee and sandwiches. At least they taste good. Then we just have a couple of hours to spend. Looking at the shops a bit, they have very reasonable prices - if it was in Danish kroner!
We arrive a little late on board the machine, and are further delayed by an employee discovering a brake-hydraulic leak. A few parts are exchanged. In the meantime, we get some Danish newspapers, and then the time is passed by to update ourselves. It's holyday time, so not much happens. Two swans have been beaten to death, one dog has died of heat stroke in a car. As a Dane, it is disgusting to think about, but when you just come out of the big grim world, it's navel-playing.
After an hour and a half, the captain must complain; they can't make the leak, we'll have to get another machine from the hangar. We are lucky to fly with British Airways, which is based here in Heathrow. The newspapers and our patience are a bit worn out, and it doesn't help as the captain announces we may be able to take over another machine that should have flown somewhere else, but it will take at least ten minutes before we get out of this wreck. Then they just have to remember the suitcases, the food and fuel enough!
There is incredibly little understanding that we need to stay seated. It borders to anarchy and mutiny. Finally we get on to the second plane and after a minor eternity, we roll off the runway, "only" two hours and forty minutes late. For some inexplicable reason, we only land five quarters late. Not free to be a little overjoyed, we are greeted by 19 enthusiastic people. Lots of kisses and hugs, and then Morten drive us home.
Jumps out of the car in front of Café C, and is welcomed by the three in front. A waiter from Vagabondos sticks his head out on the first floor, and also welcomes. Meet Lennart and Arne at the gate, they tell people are sitting at the bar, waiting for us. You are not free to feel welcome. Our home seems to have done well under Bjorn's supervision, and my caudiciforms have had a good life with Lene as well. It is not at all bad to be home, but everyday drumming has not started either.