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 Hong Kong and Macau
 1'st to 13'th february 2009

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Sunday, February 8’th

Today’s walk takes place on Hong Kong Island. Usually taking a walk is pretty simple, but that’s not the case when you walk Hong Kong Island. Usually you walk along a pavement along the road, but here things are more complicated. Now and then there’s a pavement, now and then you have to use a bridge which now and then will take you through a shopping-mall to get you anywhere. Then there are the escalators. They are everywhere. I don’t think the good people of Hong Kong would know how to use stairs if they saw some.

This complicated system gives me a great chance to do what I do best – getting lost.

Amahs meeting at Statue Square

From Hong Kong Park

The walk starts at Central and continues east towards Admiralty and Wan Chai. Just east of Central is Statue Square. That’s where all the housekeepers from The Philippines – called Amahs – gather on a Sunday. That’s their day off – they have hardly any money to spend – so that’s how they spend their time instead.

After a small detour I find the nice Hong Kong Park that is full of local people. I walk further on to Admiralty, which is mainly high office-buildings and continue to Wan Chai, which is mainly small shops. In Wan Chai things go crazy this Sunday. It’s the arrival-point of the Hong Kong Marathon, so the place is packed with people.

Finally I arrive at Cause Bay where you’ll find even more shopping-malls. Here you’ll also find more Amahs. They are wearing scarves, so they must be part of the Muslim fraction. Most of them are Indonesians, and they are not popular among the Philippines, because they go for even lesser pay.  

From Causeway Bay I take the metro back – and the usual ferry of course.

My late walk is short. Just outside the hotel along the Tim Sha Tsui promenade. Here you’ll find all the fine cultural palaces in Hong Kong. Tonight there’s also a free concert outdoors with local young bands playing. They are pretty good.

Rock with an attitude

Monday, February 9’th

Practising at the Hakka Village

Usually I don’t do tour groups. But today is an exception. I have found something that I must try. It’s a combined off the beaten track tour and photo course. The guide Jackie Peers from Walk Hong Kong is a professional photographer. The tour takes place around Sai Kung. First stop is an abandoned “Hakka-village” in a national-park. The Hakka’s was some of the original people of Hong Kong. They lived with their whole family in houses in this area. Now the place is abandoned, and the houses are left over for a very few tourist – and as good and colourful photo-objects. So the tour-group – which by the way I’m the only one in – uses this setting for practising my photographic technique. Jackie is a good guide teaching me a few new ways to use my camera.

From there the group - Jackie and my self – turns into Sai Kung. This is another small fishing-village, with a nice little harbour, with small boats. Also a great place for practising. Finally we head for the local temple – another good shot.

The tour ends at 2 where I return by minibus and metro to Salisbury. Now it’s time to go to Macau. I leave most of my luggage behind and put the most necessary in my small back-pack. Then it’s off for the ferry.

I get there in time for the 4 o’clock ferry. That means arriving in Macau at 5. Macau is like Hong Kong an old colony. Not British but Portuguese. Like Hong Kong it has been turned over to the Chinese a few years ago.

Practising at the harbour

More practising

When I arrive I take a taxi to my nice Ole London Hotel located in a nice residential/harbour-area of Macau. Then I head out to take my first look at this place, and what it’s most famous for – the Casinos. My first visit is the Grand Lisboa Casino where I loose a little on the slot-machines.

I’m pretty tired so I return back home for my hotel. A burger and some fries at a street-kitchen is what we call dinner tonight. It’s very cheap. There’s no coffee at the hotel – this is China – so – a cup of tea is ok.

Tuesday, February 10’th

Today's walk is page 314 in Lonely Planets guide for Hong Kong and Macau. It’s a nice walk, taking me to nearly all sight on Macau Peninsula. There are a few old churches, the remains of a fort – called Monte Fort – with a very good view. Then there is the star-sight in Macau, which is the remains of the St. Pauls church. Only one side of the church is left over these days. All these sights are situated close to each other in the central part of Macau Peninsula.

From here there’s a long walk through the island to the Buddhist temple A-Ma. Here the incense is thick, so my eyes can hardly handle it, and I have to leave this nice place again. The whole walk takes about 3-4 hours.

Monte Fort

Lisboa Casino

Second trip of the day is another Casino-visit. First I stroll around a little to take a look at what's on offer. Macau has been compared to Las Vegas. It’s not that bad, but there are certainly a few casinos to choose from. But the activity isn’t that high at all places. The financial crisis has probably put a temporary end to that. I walk into the Grand Lisboa Casino. Here there is action going on. There’s a lot of mainland Chinese visiting. They sure know how to gamble. I don’t. It takes me 2 hours to win what is very close to 1 HK$.

When I’m on top I stop, to take a walk around to see what else is going on in the casino. Most action is at the card-tables. They play Baccarat. I don’t know the rules, and is not interested in experimenting, with enthusiastic Chinese players sitting at the tables. Instead I return to my hotel. Dinner is at a Muslim restaurant opposite the hotel. I’m the only guest, they are very friendly and it’s dead-cheap. Then I turn into room 203 for my final cup of tea.

Wednesday, February 11’th

Macau is actually 2 parts. The large one – called Macau Peninsula – is where I’m staying. South of this one there’s the island of Taipa. 3 bridges can take you there. On the southern tip of Taipa you’ll find the small village of Coloane. I take bus no 21A down there this morning. On the way we pass most of the interesting areas of Taipa. On the so called Cotai Strip (guess the influence J ) there are more huge Las Vegas-style Casinos. I don’t get inside, but from the outside they do look a little quiet. Perhaps it’s the financial crisis.

 

From Coloane

3 sticks

Coloane is a cosy place. There are some fishing huts made out of colourful sheet metal, a promenade along the beach with views across to “real China”, a small square with nice restaurants and a few temples. I hang out in the nice village for a few hours ending with a nice lunch at the market square.

Then I take another bus back. It sets me off right outside Grand Emperor Casino, which gives me an opportunity to visit this place before heading back to the hotel for a break.

Later I return to “Casino-area” and looses a little more. Dinner is a pizza, and the final final cup of tea is at room 203.

Thursday, February 12’th

This trip is getting closer to the end. I leave Macau – a strange mix between China, Las Vegas and Portugal – the same way as I arrived. That’s a Fast Ferry to Kowloon – Hong Kong. From the quay there’s a short walk to my old hotel – YMCA Salisbury. I pick up my luggage left behind, and get’s a room for my last night – the same room as I left.

Them most common form of transportation in Shopping Hong Kong

Shopping

I think I have seen most of what Hong Kong has on offer, so I spend the last afternoon strolling around with no real purpose. Instead I want to practice my photo skills here and there. I have learned a few tricks that I have to try out. It turns out to be another Star Ferry trip to Hong Kong Island and another walk on foot-bridges and escalators in the areas of Central and Sheung Wan. Central is full of business-people and shopping-malls. But just 2 blocks away, you will find small Chinese shops selling herbal medicine and other things.

The shopping-malls are very Westernly. I had an idea that I had to buy “something” when you were in shopping-paradise. But I fail again. I can’t find anything that I need – so I will return empty-handed, with no shopping at all.

Late afternoon I return to YMCA. On this last night it’s time for another go at the big buffet at the restaurant.

Friday, February 13’th.

Get up at 7 am. Taxi to Kowloon Railway Station. Train to the airport. Check in. 12 hours to Amsterdam. 4 hours of waiting time. 1 hour to Billund. 1 hour by bus to Aarhus. Hans Schourups Gade at 1 am. That makes it an 25 hour trip. Tired – tired – tired – but worth the trouble.

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Taxa-chaos