Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hockey Night in Hong Kong

Written by Lynn

From Bangkok we flew into the country of Macau, then took a ferry to Hong Kong. "Why?", one might ask, go to all this trouble (we set a new personal record, having been in Macau less than an hour, but still having to get exit and entry stamps). For those of you planning on travelling to Asia, a heads up. There are several incredibly cheap airlines, our favourite being AirAsia. For about $20, plus taxes, you can get to most places in South East Asia if you plan ahead of time. Oh, except Hong Kong..............had to go to Macau for that. But the ferry ride is less than an hour, and gives you a great view of the habour coming in and in the end was cheaper than paying for a visa to go overland through China.

In Hong Kong we got a very small room in a little rabbit warren of guesthouses called Chuking Mansions (the "mansions" part being a bit of a euphamism). Fifteen stories of itty bitty rooms, all managed in various stages of cleanliness, make up this backpackers haven. On the bright side, it's not very many places you can go in Hong Kong and stay for under $25 a night. It was clean and relatively safe (except I didn't exactly trust the staff not to go through our stuff, so we had to lock up every time we left). The worst part of the place was the miniscule elevator that serviced the building. While waiting in the line up for the elevator to descend you could watch the uncomfortable occupants on a closed circuit tv mounted in the lobby, just before entering the crush yourself (god forbid you have backpacks with you!).

Here our main goal was simple - we HAD to see a hockey game. God knows it ain't often a Canadian team makes it to the Stanley Cup finals, much less the Ottawa Senators. So with steely determination we set forth to seek out the only Canadian owned bar in Hong Kong, which necessitated a ride across town in the extremely well designed Hong Kong subway (not near as arduous as I make it sound). Getting there 2 hours before game time, we secured our coveted seats (it's a VERY tiny bar) to watch the taped game. This means we had to nurse our very overpriced beers (most things in Hong Kong seem overpriced after Vietnam), and, hey, who said bar peanuts can't constitute a full meal when push comes to shove. Here, with about 100 of our fellow Canucks crammed into the bar, we watched the Sens go down in flames in Game 2, a 1-nothing debacle that apparently was stretched out to a mere 5 games. was worth it though. Our one and only hockey game of the 2006-07 season.

While in Hong Kong we also went up to The Peak, a peice of pricey real estate that overlooks Hong Kong harbour. The tram that goes up there was built in 1881 and ascends a 1364 metre long slope that reaches a 48 degree angle in some spots. Originally only non-Chinese people living in Hong Kong were allowed to live on top of the peak, social status being measured by the altitude of your home. The tram was used to ferry these Europeans down to the city. This ordinance was finally overturned in 1930, though most of the houses up here are still well beyond the means of us ordinary mortals.
We also headed out to Stanley Market, a touristy little spot that is recommended more for the bus ride out there than the actual place. Hong Kong public buses are huge, double decker affairs that cling to the side of the cliffs overlooking the habour far below as they races around hairpin curves.

Back at "home" we admired the Avenue of the Stars (even though Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee were the only ones we recognized) and Repulse Bay up close. We wandered through the stores and went to our last Asian markets, filled with the usual assorment of cheap knock off designer clothes, sunglasses, bizarre food items and "rolex" watches. Hong Kong's big push when it comes to street sellers is for fake purses and watches, so if that's your thing, this is the place to come.

The day of our flight to Africa, which left at the inconvenient time of 11:30 pm, saw us lugging our backpacks around town post check out (most hotels will let you leave your bags behind the counter at no extra cost for a few hours, and ours was no exception, but we didn't really believe the bags would be completely intact when we came back, so we took them with us). Fortunately Hong Kong is designed with the international traveller in mind. Even though the airport is a 30 minute train ride away, they have a convenient spot downtown where you can check your bags in with your airline up to 24 hours before your flight. Thus relieved of our burdens we headed out to our last destination in Hong Kong. Chatting with some ex-pats living Hong Kong the night before at the bar Gilles had discovered that we narrowly missed not going to his favourite restaurant - Krispy Kreme! Ah, so few people that I know are able to sit down and eat a half dozen donuts one right after the other and look at themselves in the morning without regret. Thus fortified, it was on to South Africa.

1 comment:

joshwall said...

Oh! I just think I need to say that we were at that bar! At least we were at a bar/restaurant owned by a Canadian in Lan Quai Fong, which if there is only one Canadian owned bar. ..

And I agree the beer was overpriced.