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Hong Kong Episode III: Revenge of the Sniff
By Mikey
Monday, 25th October 2004 10:02

Ok, so we only left Hong Kong for one day but we still left. We still had to fill in a new immigration card.

My cold doesn't seem to want to go completely yet. It's about 90% gone but that last little bit just keeps coming back every day. I have to be careful in ports, train stations etc just in case people think I really do have SARS.

First thing on Monday morning we got up and headed straight for the Indian consulate. We were pretty much first in line when they opened at 9.30. Actually they opened their doors just after 9 but they wouldn't accept any forms until 9.30. Still, ours were the first ones taken and we were given a receipt and told to come back on what we thought sounded like Thursday. That didn't really suit us too well as we had a train to catch on Thursday so we decided to try on Wednesday evening instead.

That was just about the most important thing that we did on Monday. We did drop some laundry off and check our email but neither of those are exactly news-worthy bits of information. What we did end up spending our day doing was sitting by the edge of a clean, blue pool in Kowloon. It was a bit hazy but still sunny and warm and we basked in the sun and swam and read for most of the afternoon. That evening we popped out to Wan Chai to the restaurant with the very nice sweet and sour pork again. This time though we managed not to over order.

Tuesday was another lazy day. Actually it was even lazier than Monday, we didn't even have to get up that day. Pretty much all we did was checking email, some shopping and getting Claire's photos developed. We did have an excellent brunch though at the Vietnamese restaurant across the road. When we had supper there on Saturday, we tried some very tasty cold beef rolls that we had again that morning / lunchtime. I also had a delicious and filling tomato, beef and noodle soup. I'm going to try making that one when we get home.

After a nap we had an early supper and went out to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I sort of enjoyed it. The style and general idea were both fun and original (well, original in my lifetime anyway). The specifics of the plot weren't brilliant though.

Wednesday started out as a day of tying up loose ends. The previous night we had seen a news article telling us that a French aerial display team would be flying over Victoria harbour the following day and we decided that we'd try and see that. They were scheduled to fly at about 2pm and we thought that we'd be able to make that. At about midday we managed to leave our room and go in search of some dim sum. On the way we posted another big box of things home.

The restaurant that we chose was one that I had been given a menu for some days previously that we both wanted to try sometime and it turned out to be a good choice. We had five different dishes between us and struggled to finish them. Tasty dishes they may have been, but they were just too filling.

Having waddled out of the restaurant we took a number of walkways and ended up at the convention centre. Here we thought we could kill two birds with one stone. We still hadn't seen the seven storey glass curtain and the convention centre is right on the harbour side, offering a clear and unobstructed view. Unfortunately we were to be thwarted. There was another convention on and we couldn't get to the glass curtain. Instead we went outside and sat in the sunshine, waiting for the planes to do their thing.

It wasn't long before our peaceful wait was interrupted by a young Indian man telling me that I had a nice face, a kind face. The last time that this happened, we had actually been on our way somewhere and had been able to use lateness as an excuse not to find out what he wanted. This time we were caught just sitting in the sunshine. I tried for several seconds to think of a polite way to tell him to go away but I couldn't. Then I actually listened to what he was saying and had an idea. He was explaining that he was studying fortune telling, palmistry and that sort of thing and was asking if I would like to know what was in my future. My cunning plan was simple, I just said "No thank you. I don't believe in that sort of thing." Remarkably, it worked. He thanked me for my time and turned to leave. Then he noticed Claire. "Is this your friend?", he asked. I explained who Claire was. "Would she like to know about her future?", he then asked. I told him that he was welcome to ask but I thought that he'd get the same answer that I had given. He thought about this for a few seconds and then approached Claire. I almost felt like telling him "Told you so." as he was turned down again. He was the second or third of these men to approach us since we have been in Hong Kong and I don't really mind in a way. It's just that they often approach you in a way that leaves you little room to decline what they're offering politely. I prefer it if I can easily decline the things that I don't want and I am not pestered to the point that I have to be a little rude or forceful in order to be left alone. Unfortunately things don't work that way, I just hope that these people have thick skins.

So, what about those planes then? Well, we sat in the sun, waiting. We waited for about twenty minutes, cameras ready. We started playing twenty questions. Without warning a formation of planes cruised along the harbour and vanished into the horizon just as my camera finished powering on again from its sleep mode. We waited patiently for twenty more minutes before we recalled that the news item we had seen the previous night had mentioned something about the south side of the island. We guessed, correctly as it turns out, that the display happened on the south of the island and that the planes were only due to fly across the harbour once. Thwarted once more we packed up our cameras and bottles of water and got ready to go somewhere else. Someone behind me told me that I had a nice, kind face.

We walked back through the convention centre, passing the second Indian fortune teller on the way. He had cornered some other helpless tourist. We kept straight faces as we walked past and managed to avoid meeting any pleading looks from the tourist that may have happened. We took the train back to Causeway Bay and picked up our laundry before getting changed in readiness for the Eagles that night.

We left our hotel at 4.45 to check on our visas and then go on to have supper and see the Eagles. We had to queue for a while to get to the front of the counter in the Indian consulate. The grumpy man there was not too pleased to see us. He told us to come back first thing in the morning. Oh well, we tried.

We took a train under the harbour and walked in the general direction of the Hong Kong Coliseum. We found a rather nice Japanese restaurant to eat in and ordered several nice sounding dishes. The lady taking our order pointed out that most of them had potatoes in them, we took this to mean that she thought we must like potatoes. All four dishes were excellent, we haven't had a bad Japanese meal yet. Anyone worried about Japanese cuisine should know that it's not all raw fish (something I'm glad of).

Getting to the Coliseum was easy. Ok, the map I had helped but the crowds of foreigners were a dead giveaway. We used the Zen method of navigation and hoped that they knew where they were going. Fortunately they did. Our seats weren't that bad actually. The ticket prices had been quite high and we'd picked some of the cheapest seats so that we didn't blow our budget for the trip. As a result we were actually seated behind the band but that didn't matter too much. Not only did they frequently turn around and wave, but there were huge projection screens up showing us the front view. Besides, we were there for the atmosphere, the spectacle and the music.

While we were eating supper, the nice lady had convinced me to drink another beer (it's safe to say that I didn't need much convincing, actually she only had to ask if I wanted another one) and it was during those last few minutes before the band came out that it came back to haunt me. I'd just got comfortable and then I knew that I had to visit the loo. Since there were still quite a few people making their way into the building, we guessed that we had a couple of minutes and made a dash to the back. The moment the stage was out of sight, the cheering started. Typical! Somehow we managed to use the toilets and make it back to our seats, in the dark, just in time for the first song to start.

I don't think that I've ever been to anything like that before. Maybe I've been in a pub when some local band have been screaming into their microphones to try and be heard over the instruments that they're playing too loud but this was different, it was fun. I enjoyed the whole show and it's fair to say that I know more Eagles songs that I thought I did. Is it wrong that we went to a concert featuring a band that were making music before I was even born? No, I don't think so.

Getting back was the reverse of getting there, we just followed the crowds and eventually found ourselves in an MTR station. It was nearly 1am when we got to bed.

Our last day in Hong Kong and we had a lot to do. We didn't bother with showers or breakfast, we just got up and went straight to the Indian consulate. Once again we were first in line and we smiled pleasantly as we handed over our receipt. The man on the other side of the glass calmly took our money and asked for our passports. At first he didn't answer when I asked how long he would need them for but then he told us to come back for them at 5pm. We explained that we had a train to catch at 3pm and he had a word with one of his colleagues and told us to wait. We weren't the only people who wouldn't be able to come back at 5pm as it turns out. Another European man tried to complain that he had a flight to catch and a meeting to go to, all to no avail. He was also told to wait. For some reason though he couldn't let five minutes go by without barging to the front of the queue and asking how much longer he'd have to wait. I secretly hoped that they would tell him to shut up or come back at 5pm but they didn't. After spending over an hour in the consulate, we had our visas and we headed back to the guesthouse. We packed and left our bags with Tommy for a little while so that we could have lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant again and check our email.

Just after 2pm we caught a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the Hung Hom railway station. Apparently though one of the tunnels under the harbour was blocked due to an accident and he worried that it would take a long time to get us there. He did very well though and got us there about twenty minutes before our train was due to leave. I suspect that part of it was luck and experimentation on the driver's part and the rest was down to his encyclopedic knowledge of the roads. It was perhaps a more expensive journey than we'd hoped for but it was worth the money as our train left at exactly 3pm.

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