Our final stop -because we had to at some point- was Hong Kong. Once in possession of the British Empire, most of the Hong Kong streets have very British names. They also drive on the correct side of the road and they use our plug socket configuration. Even though the taxi drivers drive like fiends, everything seems slow and orderly compared to the last couple of months. They even stop at the red lights, an act the likes of which had faded into distant memory.
The weather was gloomy and damp, which I was quite happy to accept at this point. I'm sure the novelty will wear off within 48 hours of getting home, but it’s nice to walk outside without feeling like you’re breathing through a damp cloth. It’s also the lack of the smell of burning. It occurred to me that there has been something burning nearby everyday since Bhutan, be it cooking flames, garbage disposal or forest fire. This was the more familiar, civilised exhaust fumes of the developed world, and it’s more like home.
Somewhat like home too are the pubs that one finds on Lockhart Road with names like Churchill's or The Queen Victoria: bars with an exaggerated British theme that attract pretty much anyone from Europe or the Anglosphere. They all have Premiership footy on massive TVs and pissy European beer on tap, just like home. There was no-one throwing up or arguing with the door staff, so it lacked a little something in authenticity. It’s all in the details, guys.
Visited before stayed one night in Kowloon (huge storm)
The extravagance on this leg was brunch at the Upper House, 49 floors up and peering down at downtown, which is a perpetual building site. Such is the premium of the real estate there that many operating buildings were having floors added to their roofs. The waiter, in repeating my order back to me, corrected my pronunciation of 'steak tartare' to the American manner ('steak tar-tar'), and almost sustained a frenzied butter knife stabbing for his efforts.
Our night on the razz found us at Ori-Gin – a gin-based cocktail bar. It cost a fortune but Chan did get a cocktail served in a miniature bathtub, complete with earl-grey ‘bubble bath’. She got to keep the tiny rubber duck.
One of the scenic things to do in HK is take the cable car up to The Peak. Last time we were in town, several years ago, we were too ill to go up (courtesy of a local Italian restaurant - that'll teach us for not eating local) and this time it was misty as hell, with what looked like an hour wait. Sack that; it's not going anywhere. Maybe third time lucky.
But the real focus, and our final stop, was to go to Disneyland Hong Kong. We do quite like Disney and have been to 4 of the 5 (soon to be 6) parks (I’d go to Tokyo, but I need some convincing about Shanghai, when it opens). We stayed at one of the Disney hotels and got a couple of days in the park.
Apparently the park was designed in accordance with Feng Shui principles, which must’ve been a happy coincidence, because it looks just like the other parks.
It feels a bit less Disney-ey than the other parks. You don’t get the terrifying enthusiasm of the American ‘cast members’ and they cancel parades at the merest glimpse of rain. But it was fun enough, and I could see over everyone’s head for the parade.
Also, I've found that if you compile several bad pictures of the fireworks, it looks like someone's called in a drone strike on Sleeping Beauty:
This park is aimed at the mainland Chinese, and as such is more focussed on shopping and photo opportunities. There are literally hundreds of reminders about the park-wide selfie stick ban. Also there is no ghost stuff, due to the Chinese being a bit sensitive on the whole departed spirits and references to death, so we get Mystic Manor rather than the Haunted Mansion.
The hotel was OK, and you could walk to the park inside of half an hour, if so inclined. The food both in the hotels and the parks was a bit disappointing. Somehow Walt's Cafe managed to add cheese to my ice cream.
Chan got a chance to coo over the multitude of Chinese babies, for which she has a particular weakness. Even the ones throwing white-hot tantrums looked adorable. They were equally transfixed with us when queuing up, so everyone was happy.
|Here's Mickey riding a Whale's spout. Because: Disney|
And then, just like that, we were done.
I’m writing this and the Macau post and editing Chan’s Hanoi post (she has a short attention span) on the flight home to Blighty. So this is the last location post. I do have some final post-trip naval-gazing stuff to write, so swallow down that lump in your throat for a bit longer.