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Sunday 3rd October - Bangkok, Thailand to Hong Kong
By Claire
Monday, 4th October 2004 06:33

There was a man outside the hostel offering a taxi to the airport, which we accepted. We were there early, and checked in, changed the date of our return flight from Tokyo (we can't afford to do Japan properly this time round, so we're just going to Tokyo for a few days instead) and sat in the departure lounge for a couple of hours reading and eating real, English, Cadbury's chocolate. At the gate, there was a little bird trapped in the building but I couldn't get close enough to take it outside.

The inflight service was very slow and we weren't offered drinks for the three hours we were on the plane, but they showed CSI: Miami and Trigger Happy TV so we were entertained. The best bit was the camera they had underneath the aeroplane that showed what was going on for take-off and, more impressively, for landing on the island runway. Very cool.

We spent a while phoning the guesthouse for directions and getting money out of the machines. Each bank in Hong Kong has its own bank notes, which makes it confusing but interesting. We took a train to Hong Kong Central (which asked us to insert an octopus) and then a courtesy bus to the Excelsior Hotel. At the hotel we had to phone again and be collected, but the doormen carried our bags and escorted us through the foyer. The man with the bags was smaller than me but carried the 90lbs of luggage with ease.

We waited for the guesthouse lady to come and get us, and she took us along a maze of streets and past pet shops to a metal door. We squeezed past barriers and into lifts, and then we sat in a tiny office for a while. A very enthusiastic Chinese man spoke very fast about everything Hong Kong has to offer, wrote out an itinerary for us for this evening, showed us to our room (the size of a bed with a tiny bathroom, about two feet deep and five feet wide, attached, and said we had to hurry.

In town it was as bright as daylight as every shop had floodlights or neon signs. We seemed to be in Pet Shop Central, and there were puppies of every kind and size in tiny glass cases. There were two huskies in one, who weren't able to stand up, and they batted the glass in an attempt to play with the schnauzers next door. It was very, very sad.

We found the recommended restaurant and worked out how the food-ordering system worked. The staff were very helpful as we were the only westerners and they realised that we had no idea what was going on. They even told us when our order was ready without shouting over the tannoy, and a lady gave us spoons and forks (which of course we didn't use!). After an excellent supper of barbecue pork and rice, we found the metro system and bought an octopus card (which explained the train's request earlier in the day) and jumped on a metro. Very clean and efficient, it took us all the way to Central District in just a few minutes.

We headed for the ferry port and boarded a boat, using our octopus magnetic touch card to bypass the queues of people paying with money. The boat crossing was very choppy but it only took about ten minutes to get us to Kowloon. Here, we hurried to the Avenue of Stars, just in time to watch an incredible light show involving all the skyscrapers, and a miniature firework display.

China is currently celebrating its week long National Day holiday, and Hong Kong joined in for the weekend. Although the major fireworks had been on Friday, they were still impressive. Every skyscraper visible on the bay had multi-coloured light displays on their structures, flashing from red to violet and the whole neon rainbow in between. Some of them spelled out words in lights and others just changed gradually from blue to orange to green and back. Then there were the spotlights in the sky and the green laser lights, and finally the roof-top synchronised fireworks. It was an impressive display of Mexican-wave-style roman candles and gentle puffs of light, some of them swaying as they popped out another bubble of green or red, to make a fan.

We headed home after that, and tried to unpack a bit but there isn't much room. We phoned home briefly, and then, just before midnight, the phone rang. It was the hotel manager telling us the door code should we need to come in or out, something we already had on five pieces of paper. Then we slept.

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