10-17Mar200£´ Hong Kong-what a place. Busy, Busy, Busy. I figured out how to get to town from the airport and arrived at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. I planned to stay at the Chung King or Mirador Mansions (mansions is a bit of an exaggeration). A tout took me to a room in Mirador Mansions the size of a closet. It was damp, expensive, and smelled bad but I thought at least the smell would recede with ventilation. I was wrong. The room cost as much as the room at the Rajabhat Pranakhon Hotel and was a quarter of the size.
I walked down the crowded streets being accosted by offers of almost everything and found a TGI Fridays and had nachos. I returned to my fragrant room and fell asleep.
I changed to another room the next morning which smelled marginally better and began my on foot exploration. I finally found a nice place with an outside table where I could read Nobel House and drink coffee and watch the world go by. I bought some new rechargeable batteries for my camera (so far the only thing cheaper than in Thailand). That evening I chatted with a couple of Dutch girls, Marijae and Ramona. Marijae was studying architecture in Hong Kong and Ramona was visiting.
I spent the morning arranging my Trans-Siberian Trip and left my passport for a double entry visa to China. The trip was more expensive than I had planned because they had changed their policy to price in euros instead of dollars. Thank you Mr. President.
The next day I changed to an even better smelling room in the Satisfy Guest House. I took the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong and followed the signs to the peak railroad. I rode to the top of Victoria Peak and marvelled at the spectacular view of Hong Kong and Kowloon. I hung around until dark to watch the lights go on. I ran into M and R again. After dark I made my way to Caramba, a Mexican restaurant. Using a map in Hong Kong is an adventure. The streets curve and dead end and change names constantly. There are steep hills and alley short cuts everywhere. I felt like I had earned every bite of my chimichanga and Dos Equis beer. I returned to the guest house and made my plans for traveling to Gungzhou (Canton).
I tried the cheap bus and when I determined that that wasn't going to work out I flagged a taxi and arrived at the somewhat informal bus station at the Hong Kong Convention Center Parking Lot. After two changes of bus I arrived at the border of China. After a considerable wait at the border I arrived in mainland China.
I decided to stay in a hostel in Shamian Dao (Sand Island). This was the area that was the foreign traders concession in Canton. It was filled with old colonial buildings and a beautiful park. It was a pleasant and peaceful stop. There were many Americans with spanking new strollers and cute Chinese orphans. This is apparently and ongoing process because this area is near the US Consulate. The kids were really cute and so were the excited parents. There was a thriving business etching photographs by hand onto black stone. I was impressed by the beauty of the pictures and the delicacy of the process.
I took a taxi to the train for the next leg of my journey. The scheming driver took me to the wrong railway station and managed to triple the cost of the trip. I managed to find the right train and board 10 minutes before departure. The train was reasonably comfortable but the bed very narrow by western standards. I hate to travel by night because I'm so curious about the countryside. As soon as it was light, I plastered myself to the window and took in the scenery. Rice fields, stone houses with tile roofs whizzed by my window.
I arrived at Gulin in a drizzling rain and took another taxi which also attempted to take me to the wrong place. This time I managed to pay only 1 yuan (13 cents) more than I should have. I boarded the bus to Yangshuo, a scenic backpacker haven.
In Yangshuo I found a YHA Hostel with a nice room at a reasonable price and settled in for a week. I met Elizabeth, born Australian, grew up Canadian, and newly arrived from Vietnam. She's been in Asia for three years teaching English in Japan, Thailand and China. She had a horrible experience in Hanoi. When checking out of her hotel she had to get more money but the staff wouldn't let her go. They pulled her hair, tore her luggage and she was surrounded in the street by a hostile crowd until a passing Aussie rescued her. Later she discovered that she had lost her camera. Needless to say, she was not impressed with Vietnam. My experience in Vietnam was completely different with a reasonably friendly welcome wherever I went.
I'm waiting for the drizzle to stop so I can rent a bicycle and take a boat trip down the Li Jaing River. In the meantime I'm reading my book in the very nice Green Lotus Cafe (20% off food and drinks for YHA guests and free internet).
My daughter, Heather graduates Magna Cum Laude from Oregon State University today. I'd love to be there. I'm hoping to give her a RTW ticket for graduation and to see her within a year. I miss Nee and my friends in Udon. I miss the easy, laid back style of Thailand. But, as usual, the road calls and I'm energized by all the new sights, sounds and smells.
17-25Mar2004 St. Patrick's Day in Yangshuo--the Irish are everywhere. Colm and Darlene hosted a party at the Green Lotus. There was green beer (the food coloring tasted a little bit funny) and lots of toasts. The next day it was still drizzling and cold but I decided to take a trek with some Israelis¡¡£¨£Ò£ï£ô£é£í¡¡£á£î£ä¡¡£Í£å£î£ù£©¡¡£÷£è£ï I met at the party. We planned to go to Fuli Town across the river by ferry. Following £ô£è£å¡¡£í£á£ð£¬¡¡£÷£å¡¡£ô£ò£å£ë£ë£å£ä¡¡£ä£ï£÷£î¡¡£ô£è£å¡¡£í£õ£ä£ä£ù¡¡£ò£ï£á£ä£ó¡¡£ô£ï¡¡£ô£è£å¡¡£ò£é£ö£å£ò£®¡¡¡¡£Õ£ó£é£î£ç¡¡£ï£õ£ò¡¡£è£á£î£ä£ù¡¡£Ã£è£é£î£å£ó£å¡¡£ð£ò£è£ò£á£ó£å£â£ï£ï£ë¡¡£÷£å¡¡£á£ó£ë£å£ä¡¡£á¡¡£ö£é£ì£ì£á£ç£å£ò¡¡£è£ï£÷¡¡£ô£ï¡¡£ç£å£ô¡¡£ô£ï¡¡£ô£è£å¡¡£æ£å£ò£ò£ù¡¡£á£î£ä¡¡£ô£è£å£ù¡¡£ð£ï£é£î£ô£å£ä¡¡£ä£ï£÷£î£ó£ô£ò£å£á£í£®¡¡¡¡£×£å¡¡£÷£á£ì£ë£å£ä¡¡£õ£î£ô£é£ì¡¡£ô£è£å¡¡£ð£á£ô£è¡¡£ä£é£ó£á£ð£ð£å£á£ò£ä¡¡£ô£è£å£î¡¡£ç£á£ö£å¡¡£õ£ð£®¡¡¡¡£Á¡¡£ò£å£æ£ò£å£ó£è£é£î£ç¡¡£÷£á£ì£ë¡¡£ô£ï£ï£ë¡¡£õ£ó¡¡£â£á£ã£ë¡¡£ô£ï¡¡£Ù£á£î£ç£ó£è£õ£ï£®