Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an interesting place and much has changed since we last visited in 2008. Whilst we all know that in the polar regions the ice is melting and in the jungles of Patagonia the rainforests are being decimated, here in HK the buildings are increasing in size and absolutely reaching for the sky. The pace of reform here is incredible – there are magnificent bridges crossing wide parts of the Harbour, tunnels, interesting terraces where tall cliffs have been strengthened and some magnificent architecturally designed buildings that enhance this densely populated region. I am thinking of emailing Wayne actually because I think he should come here and hire some of these clever designers and strong labor force to complete structures in Auckland so he can stop losing sleep over the road cones! The Harbour is a buzz of activity from small ships, tankers, tug boats, ferries and water taxis all navigating the busy water highway.

As I sit here on our verandah of the Viking Orion ship writing this we are quietly and smoothly sailing the South China Sea on our way to Taipei and the port of Keelung. The one in charge of the B’s thinks he is now in charge of boats! You see, it is foggy and the fog horns are blaring loudly – he spots a boat and leaps out of his seat. No – he doesn’t need to rush to the bridge to let ze Captain know because I am sure he already knows so I tell him to relax or he will need the stress remedy and I don’t have enough for the two of us!

Back to Hong Kong and its 7.5 million people living on the size of a postage stamp and this is why every building is reaching for the sky because there is very little land. We are taken to Stanley Market and on the way we pass a couple of beaches and a golf course! Honestly, I cannot figure how they squeezed a golf course into the side of a mountainous hill but there it is – the car park and Club House look like they are taking up more land than the golf course but people are out with their trundlers and lining up their putts – probably a par 2 for each hole! On we go to Stanley Market and then on to Aberdeen Fishing Village where the evidence of this city of contrasts is there to see – old, fragile, small San pans are the homes and businesses of fishing folk in this historic area. People living on these little boats crammed together in the bay and opposite there is a large marina area of luxurious super yachts – a stark reminder that in this region 60% of the population live in subsidized housing where families of four to six people are crammed together in standard 400 square feet of apartment space. The benefits, our sweet tour guide and a guy born and raised in HK, tells us are that it is only six paces to the bathroom and privacy – forget it! As you know, HK was a British Colony up until 1997 when it was handed back to China. It is interesting to discover that people in Mainland China are not allowed to live or work in HK and they need a Visa to even visit. However, people in HK have freedom to go into China. He tells us that the tax payable in HK is standard across the board of 15% whether you earn millions or very little. The Government provides 12 years of free compulsory education and for many all healthcare is either free or subsidized up to 95% of the cost. He said in all honesty that since HK was handed back to China nothing has changed for him – in fact he relishes it. That may be different for some. There are certainly a lot of very wealthy people residing here.

Oh dear – the boss is now standing up on watch duty because another boat is behind us! I am just hoping that the teletubbie who is in charge of North Korea is having a day relaxing with a gin and not planning to test missiles while we are sailing.

Because we are worried about fading away while we are on this cruise I booked us for a five course meal tonight – well we need it of course because the lunch offerings only had six different meal cafes with a selection of about 300 different choices! Heaven forbid – I can see the clothes are going to shrink again! And for those of you worried about us not managing the shower I can report that our lovely stateroom attendant insisted he give us a demonstration – I feel that some of you may have written to him telling him that there are a couple of idiots coming aboard who don’t have a clue how to turn on a tap!

On we sail arriving in Taipei tomorrow morning. The boss is attending a lecture on astronomy and we are off to a talk on Taipei before the five courses are put in front of us! It is not pleasing to see how much rubbish is floating on these calm waters and now the fog has cleared and the sun is out we can see that there is a highway of container ships. There will be a lot of action for the one in charge of the boats to watch when he sits back out on the verandah!

The view of Victoria Harbour from our verandah – so pretty
It’s a mere 30 degrees with 110% humidity as we drag ourselves around Stanley Market!
Apparently they thought the boss likes pink flamingos – of course he does!
The delightful Captain of the San pan
The old and seemingly fragile fishing boats in Aberdeen
The contrasting luxury sharing the bay
The bamboo scaffolding everywhere held together with ties – just imagine this popping up on building sites at home!
The view from Victoria Peak

2 thoughts on “Hong Kong

  1. Christine Jack

    When reading this Shannon I can’t help but be eternally grateful that we live in NZ. How fortunate are we?!!
    Smiles for now🙂
    Granny Chris💗 xo


  2. Lynley Schierling

    So pleased you are safely ensconced on your ship! Already it sounds like a fantastic trip. Look forward to more updates.🙂xx


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