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Thursday 14th October - Hong Kong
By Claire
Saturday, 16th October 2004 04:39

We found the visa office for China today and waited in a large, bright waiting room for more than an hour. I read a great little newspaper article about a drunk girl in China who broke into a men's bathing house and demanded a bath. "Upon seeing her, the men fled," and the girl was eventually arrested and fined the equivalent of a few pounds for the broken window.

A lot of people kept jumping queues despite the numbered ticket system, and before we'd finished at our desk, three old Chinese ladies were thrusting paper at the lady behind the glass, who looked as surprised as I did. The visa would be ready in the morning, and as long as we promised not to go to church or write to newspapers, they should let us in. Hopefully.

Then we had breakfast and tried to find the world's largest window, in the Hong Kong convention centre. It was full of conventions, though, so we couldn't get in without a badge on a string round our necks. So we went to the second attraction of the day - the world's longest series of escalators! These climb a steep hill and are about half a mile of travalators and stairways broken into manageable chunks. There were some lovely views of the back of appartment blocks (yep, it's probably just me, but the back of blocks of flats are so cool) and litte side streets. At one point I saw a balcony with old-lady underwear (very large beige pants and bras) and a string of dried fish hanging from it. And a statue of an old man fishing.

It took us about half an hour to reach the top, and then we walked back down. The summit, called the Mid-Levels, was lovely and green and felt more peaceful and more tropical than the city below. There was even a white mosque on the hill. Then we went to look for a bookshop (the one in the guidebook had closed down) and we were helped by a Canadian lady. I bought a Rough Guide to India.

We went back to Causeway Bay and Mikey got a haircut. It was hard to find a barber because most of them were tucked away down alleys or on the twelfth floor of somewhere, so we eventually chose somewhere with a lot of men in it. The guy who cut Mikey's hair had massive black-framed glasses with rainbow-coloured lenses that covered his face from his eyebrows to the botton of his nose. It didn't inspire confidence!

We internetted for a bit and found an address for a restaurant. Mikey had a shower to get rid of hair bits back at the hotel and we took the metro back out to Wan Chai for supper. The American Restaurant was the best place we've been to so far, and more like I was expecting Chinese food to be, with cripsy chilli beef, sweet and sour pork and beef with black bean sauce. It was really excellent and the portions were huge. The nice waiter wrote down our dishes for our growing collection of emergency Chinese words and, full to bursting, we walked all the way back to the hotel. There was a man in a vest and underpants in the hall outside our room, who laughed a lot. No idea what that was about.

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