Hong Kong

I do like Hong Kong. It’s not as cheap as it used to be, and the people can be annoying but I do like Hong Kong. It’s a very cheerful city, even in bad weather.

One of the things we did twice was we took the Peak Tram, which is a wonder of Victorian engineering. Built in 1888, it is the steepest tramway in the world, and runs up to the top of Victoria Peak. It’s a slightly hairy ride, but it’s a fascinating experience, in lovely old Victorian cars. The view from the top is spectacular. Apparently. The peak has been shrouded in mist for almost all of the two days we have been here. We caught a glimpse on our first trip up, but on the second, it was a complete white-out. Visibility was down to a matter of about twenty or thirty feet. I felt bad for those who hadn’t done the morning tour. They essentially got the top and saw nothing. Absolutely nothing.

As part of our morning tour, we were taken on a sampan ride. Sampans are small motorised boats that seat ten or eleven and are essentially motorised rowing boats with a canopy over the top. They are not particularly stable and the harbour is surprising choppy, but it was a very enjoyable ride. It only lasted about twenty minutes though, which was a shame. Oh well, can’t have everything.

Overhyped. The light show in Hong Kong Harbour. Seriously, don’t bother. When we came before, we went out on a harbour cruise and saw all the lights on the skyscrapers. Very pretty. This time, they have apparently created a light show and set it to music. Well, you know what? They flash on and off all the time, anyway. We couldn’t tell the difference. The “music” was dire, the “show” virtually non-existent. As far as I could tell, the only difference was the apparition of green lasers on three roof-tops. There was one building that seemed to turn its decorative lights on and off ALMOST in sync with the music, but that was it. Big deal. Good thing it was free, otherwise people would have been very annoyed indeed! Granted, it was a bit misty, which may have muted the potential effect slightly, but it was singularly unimpressive, I’m afraid.

This morning, we went to the Peninsula (one of the world’s top hotels) for a cup of coffee. Has to be done, darling. It’s SO civilised. Imperialism was probably a Bad Thing, but the hotels left behind are Fabulous.

Came to buy electronics but totally failed to buy anything. Those who did want to sell either didn’t have what I wanted or wanted ludicrous prices (higher than London!). Others wanted to sell but seemed so shifty and untrustworthy, we walked out. Apparently, asking for a digital camera with a viewfinder that works well in low light is astonishingly overdemanding of me. They could or would only offer me one or the other. Moral of the story: do more research before you get here. Know EXACTLY which model you want before you arrive. Then go out and find it.

HK is nowhere near as cheap as it used to be. We were only here in 2005, but it is certainly not the bargain capital it used to be. Not by a long chalk. There are also now a LOT of fakes in the market. So you can buy something that looks like a Sony, has all the right blurb and bits, guarantees, holograms, the works, get home and find out when you ring for help that that model simply doesn’t exist. This problem also exists in Tenerife, but it makes shopping very trying. Moral of the story: as above!

So I’ve bought nothing. I bought a bag for mum for her birthday and some postcards. That’s it. That’s the product of my two-day spree in Hong Kong. So disappointing. And it’s not like I wasn’t eager to buy. My camera has a dead pixel which is ruining my photos, so I REALLY wanted a new one! But if you don’t have what I want, I can’t buy it from you. *shrug*

This is the problem with buying clothes as well. There’s some beautiful stuff and I really wanted to buy some, but they don’t make western sizes. I don’t just mean big enough for my fat rear, I mean anyone over five foot tall with breasts or hips, or (heaven forbid!) both, can forget it. It’s bizarre. They know what we look like. They act like they want the business. They survive on tourism to a large extent these days (Hong Kong now “makes nothing” according to our tour guide yesterday), and yet they absolutely refuse to make clothes big enough for their customers! Mum found one shop in Stanley Market that sold her type of stuff and bought all she (or rather dad) could carry. Maybe that’ll give the neighbouring businesses a clue as to what they need to do to get some business. Or maybe not. I’m getting very philosophical about it – although no less bitter or annoyed, bizarrely – if you don’t want my money, you don’t have to have it. No skin off my nose. If you provided my size, I’d probably buy LOADS, but if you won’t, I can’t, can I?

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