Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We Visited China – Hong Kong

23 April 2011 – Hong Kong

We reached Hong Kong in the early afternoon and went straight to our hotel located in Kowloon district.

Figure 1 - The entrance

After getting used to big hotels with huge lobbies and spacious rooms in all the cities that we had visited – Regal Oriental Hotel in Kowloon district came as a big disappointment. The rooms were extremely small – later on the guide said “One does not need a TV remote in Hong Kong hotels – your toe will do the job equally well”. That explains many aspects of a city where land is literally gold. However the hotel made up for the lack of space with all modern amenities, cleanliness and efficiency.

Jai and I went for a stroll and a bite before proceeding with the evening program.

Figure 2 - Jai posing

Figure 3 - A by lane close by - but very tidy

Figure 4 - Old part of the city

Starting with Ms Francesca with a stern school teacher attitude, we had pleasure of meeting many guides during our stay – Holly,James Bond, Ricky Martin and many others. I somehow felt that the people of HGK are more clinical when compared to main land China. They also carry an attitude – dude! Maybe they learnt it from the stiff upper lipped people. In comparison, I found the mainland people more friendly, warm, enthusiastic, proud and spirited. May be the long association with the Brits has made HJKians more reserved, than what they really are.

Hong Kong is very well known and enough has already been said about the city – I am not going to repeat any of those.

Our first halt was the Ladies’ Market in Tung Choi Street. It is the place for bags, accessories and inexpensive women's clothing. Men's and children's clothing and toys are also on sale.

Figure 5 - Ladies market

After an hour of roaming around, we embarked open air bus for the night tour of the city.HGK is beautifully lit at night to attract the tourists. HGK, once a manufacturing centre, now concentrates more on tourism and finance. The manufacturing has taken flight to the main land.

Figure 6 - Prassu and Jai enjoying the ride

The city night ride kept us engaged for almost an hour, watching well lit shopping malls, business areas and important buildings.

Figure 7 - One of the high rises

Figure 8 - Yet another one

Figure 9 - View of the shopping mall

At dusk, the skyline around Victoria Harbour stands tall among Hong Kong's must-sees attractions. The harbour cruise offers a great opportunity to take in the awe-inspiring splendour of the Hong Kong skyline at night. Victoria Harbour is one of the world’s most impressive natural harbours. Stunning buildings and landmarks on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon adorn both sides of the busy harbour, a variety of craft including ferries, junks, sampans, cruise ships, freighters and tankers ply the waters and at night time the illuminated buildings provide a colourful and spectacular display. The cruise aboard the luxurious tour boat ‘Bauhinia’ included unobstructed views of the “Symphony of Lights” laser multimedia show and a very well appointed buffet dinner. In spite of some 400 tourists the tour was well managed.

 Figure 10 - Jai joins the crooner

24 April 2011 – Hong Kong

After a very sumptuous breakfast we started our next phase of the visit to Lantau Island which is almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island. With the new development of Ngong Ping Cable Car and Ngong Ping Village, the Island has become a new attraction in Hong Kong. On our agenda included visit to the World's tallest, outdoor, seated bronze Buddha statue at the Po Lin Monastery,followed by visit to Tai O, a quaint fishing village.

Figure 11 - Strategy time out

Figure 12 - Ladies time out

Figure 13 - Following the guide James into the cable car

Ngong Ping Cable Car connects Tung Chung and Ngong Ping. The 5.7km cable car journey offers visitors spectacular 360 deg panoramic views of South China Sea, Hong Kong International Airport, Lantau North Country Park and the Giant Buddha. The ride in the cable car takes about 30 minutes and it offers a breath taking view of the surroundings. The weather was cloudy and overcast, with a slight drizzle, hampering my photography.

Figure 14 - A view of the adjoining hills

Figure 15 - A foot path to the monastery for trekkers

Figure 16 - Sundar in deep meditation prior to his appointment with Buddha

Figure 17 - A view of the valley

Figure 18 - A housing colony

Figure 19 - View of the harbour

Figure 20 - Pretty pleased with themselves

Figure 21 - A distant view of the airport on the left

Figure 22 - A penny for their thoughts

After a thrilling 30 minute ride in the cable car we arrived at the Ngong Ping village.

Figure 23 - At the village market place

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of a Buddha, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island.The statue is located near Po Lin Monastery and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion. It is a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong, and is also a popular tourist attraction. The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The Buddha is 112 ft tall, weighs 250 metric tons.

Figure 24 - Buddha from the village

Figure 25 – In memory of

Figure 26 – Hua Yan Dharma Preaching - At the Dharmadhatu Hall on the second floor

Figure 27 - Simply captivating

Figure 28 - Another view

Figure 29 - Close to Buddha

Figure 30 - The Offering of the Six Devas"

They statues of devas offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These offerings symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.

Figure 31 - The closest I could get to take a picture. Notice the lotus petals

Figure 32 - Jai is blessed

Figure 33 - Another deva

Figure 34 - In the rain

Figure 35 - Lifting Buddha in her palm

Figure 36 - A grand view

Thereafter we went for a lovely vegetarian lunch at the monastery followed by a visit to Po Lin Monastery.

Figure 37 - At the entrance

Figure 38 - Lovely plant arrangement

Figure 39 - The full view

Figure 40 - Statues of Buddha

Figure 41 - Intricate Chinese lamps

Figure 42 - At the resturaunt

Figure 43 - The monastery bell

Figure 44 - Guess who is the laughing Buddha

Figure 45 - Devotees with incense sticks

We then went to Tai O, a fishing town, partly located on an island of the same name, on the western side of Lantau Island. The village captures all the essential ingredients of a fishing community – variety of products on display, cacophony of the market, loud haggling, and unbearable stench of dried fish. The varieties of fish displayed are really an eye opener. I never imagined there would be so many fish to be eaten. There is also live fish waiting to be bought. I also saw some dried fish being sold for 2400 US $. May be you become a superman after eating it. Unable to digest the smell of dried fish some of the ladies decided to wander around the shopping mall till we came back.

Figure 46 - Variety of fish displayed is fantastic

Figure 47 - Looks like sea cucumbers

Figure 48 - Cannot recognize any of them

Figure 49 - Bags full

Figure 50 - Nicely packed and ready

Figure 51 - Ingredients that go with the fish

Figure 52 - God knows what they are

Figure 53 - The live ones

Figure 54 - Once again the variety

Figure 55 - Some sort of eel

Figure 56 – Snails, shrimp and conches

Figure 57 - Very different

Figure 58 - Some more live ones

Figure 59 - Sea snakes

Figure 60 - The fishing community on stilt houses

Figure 61 - A close up

Figure 62 - Into the harbour

Figure 63 - An extremely costly fish with magical powers. I am sure you would want to know. Cost 2400 US $.

Figure 64 – A variety of star fish

Figure 65 - A very close view – looks rather cute

Figure 66 - They preferred to stay away – interestingly two of them come from the fish eating states of Kerala and West Bengal – something very fishy

Figure 67 - A cup of hot coffee from star bucks at the end of it all

Figure 68 - Last night of the trip together

25 April 2011 - Hong Kong

Finally pretty Jackie joined as a guide. She is originally from from main land china.A big change from the local guides.


 Figure 69 – Waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui.Sky line of Hong Kong being enriched by Dore and Lalitamma

Figure 70 - Jai and Jackie

Figure 71 Jai and Sudhi

Figure 72 - Jai with Bruce Lee.

The Bruce Lee statue in Hong Kong is a memorial figure of deceased martial artist, Bruce Lee. The Hong Kong memorial was built on behalf of Bruce Lee, who died on 20 July 1973 at the age of 32. A 2.5 metre bronze statue was erected, along the Avenue of Starts attraction near the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui. It shows a classic Bruce Lee pose; ready to strike; as seen in the 1972 hit movie Fist of Fury.

Figure 73 - Not bad yeah – Pubs Bellee!!!! With Bruce lee

Figure 74 - Many more fans

Figure 75 - Navin scaring a dragon

Figure 77 - Jackie stole our hearts with her talk and excellent demeanor - not for a moment forgetting her very good looks

Figure 78 - On the way to a pearl shop

Figure 79 - Making best use of the space. Neat and tidy

Figure 80 - Under sea tunnel

Figure 81 - View of the high rise

Figure 82 - Another fascinating view

Figure 83 - Local junk boat

Figure 84 - When Jackie speaks Dore is all attention

Figure 85 - A very satisfied smile

Figure 86 - A view of the harbour from Victoria peak

Figure 87 - Photo op prior to Macau

Thereafter Kats and Navin, Jai and I bid goodbye to the rest of the group and went on our next leg to Macau.

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