Last Days in Hong Kong

December 19th, 2008. Categories / China

The last two days in Hong Kong were spent riding various trains between mellow wandering. On Tuesday, J. and I took the subway far out into the boondocks in search of an old village. We didn’t bring directions, so when we got to Tin Shui Wai Station, we were lucky enough to find the Ping Shan Heritage Trail just outside.

The area was a weird mix of abandoned lots, massive apartment towers, a stagnant and fish infested pond, biking trails. New met old in the dense clusters of single family buildings built amongst the stone remains of an old walled village. Between the buildings were long dark alleys full of dripping water, drains, hanging clothes, doors, and cats. This was a world before cars, or obese people. A few open areas housed vegetable and fruit gardens. People looked at us with curiosity as we invaded their personal space.

A few of the older buildings were still intact. Beautiful chipping paint and heavy wood. The restored buildings were uninteresting. Before heading back, we crossed to the other side of the subway and explored the grounds of a massive apartment complex. It was like Corbusier’s plan for Utopia: massive residential towers above communal parks. This group of buildings had a full mall and primary school attached. The park below had a lot of pavement, playgrounds, courts, an amphitheater, and a large fountain. It was surrounded by at least 8 absolutely massive towers. It felt an entire American suburb could be housed in this single apartment complex.

Light rail tracks.

Massive subway station and residential towers.

Looking up from the shared park.

Dark, tight alleys.

Old building.

Dragon gate.

Inside the old meeting hall.

Another view.

Door and window detail.

Dragons on the roof.

Another alley.

The potty mouth door.

Another old meeting hall.

Makeshift dwelling.

Crumbling shed.

Container office.

Potted plants in an alley.

Home entrance with toys.

Offerings at the base of a tree.

Incense and Confucius?

Abandoned factory.

On Wednesday, J. and I rode the double decker trollies around town. They were a cheap $HK2 a trip, paid upon exit. Our destination was the peak tram, the famous funicular running up to near the highest spot on Hong Kong Island. The tram cost $HK33 each. The ride was steep and scenic, at some places going at about a 45 degree angle. The view of the city quickly opened up on the right. There were a lot of excited “oohs” and “aahs” from the car. The terminal at the top is a massive mall complex with souvenirs, restaurants, and a wax museum. The area feels like a disgusting, commercial version of the Getty Center and I was in a rush to get out of it and savor the view. And what a view! From high above, Hong Kong felt even more massive and beautiful than on the ground. For me, its mix of urban and natural is perfect. Tall dense buildings and gross consumerism are countered by water and hills. The natural boundaries have locked in breathing room. I want to live here.

Looking skyward from the buildings near the guesthouse.

Family on the second level of the trolley.

J. on the trolley.

Watching trollies from a trolley.

Trolley tracks.

Gate to the Muslim cemetery.

Catholic cemetery.

Tough little man.

Crazy looking Lippo headquarters.

Corporate fountain with holiday poinsettia.

Ladies on a skywalk.

The Peak Tram arriving at the lower terminus.

Peak logo.

The tram on the ascent.

Hong Kong from the peak.

Building detail.

Hiking trial around the mountain.

Palm leaf.

Anotehr city view from the trail.

And again.

Looking down on the giants.

Crane towering over the harbor. Tanker ships in the background.

Bamboo scaffolding in the woods.

Bamboo.

The enchanted tree.

Looking south over the undeveloped hills of Hong Kong Island.

Ships at sunset.

The sun.

Hong Kong in full nighttime glory.

For dinner, we ate at a Hong Kong style diner. I got rice porridge with pork and thousand year egg. J. got shrimp dumpling soup. We split some fried greens. We got back on the trolley again and headed to the eastern end of the line. I was feeling day dreamy and tired. We retired early. After six months of traveling, I had lost the gusto for one last night of adventure. I was both reluctant and ready to go.

Hong Kong was a great city to end the adventure in.

2 Comments


Jens:

Welcome back, Nik. Seems to have been a hell of a trip, I’m glad I got to tag along. Have you made it back to Dallas yet?

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