Thursday, February 17, 2005

Into the grey

It's no surprise to anyone but me that as one approaches 30 the odd silver-grey hair pokes through an otherwise abundant head of brilliant black hair. Needless to say my least favourite colours at the moment are silver and grey. Needless to say that very soon I'll have to join the junta of hair-dying humans. Needless to say that no matter how healthy I get, no matter what veggies I ingest, this is an irreversible process. Ah well, I guess this is life!

However the point of this post is not to talk about hair, grey or otherwise.

V & I are back from Hong Kong. I loved every minute of it, not least because we stayed in a warm friendly house with friends. V liked it (note: not loved) but only as a one-off holiday spot, mainly because he was with me (ahem!) and because he had no choice! The sightseeing in HK can be kept to a minimum because there is not a lot to see in a city sized country.

Day 3: We MRT'd it to Kowloon and KCR'd (MRT and KCR both being rail systems) it to HungHom to get our Digital camera gaurantee converted to a worldwide one and to swap the instruction manual for an English one. Done and dusted by an efficient service centre, we went to the Jade market in Kowloon where I proceeded to spend some of my hard earned dough on beautiful trinkets. I am strangely attracted to Jade and bought a few beautiful pieces to jazz up my otherwise boring London blue-black attire. Walked through Nathan street (sent my last despatch from there but was too excited to write in any kind of detail) all the way to the Star Ferry Terminus, admiring all the shops. The ferry ride was cheap and fun and since it was bright and sunny, an altogether lovely experience.

Day 4: The big parade which I was so keen to see was a huge disappointment - there was no view from the planter I had to stand on; no crowd control to escape from it and what we did manage to capture on our camera and in our minds was greatly influenced by the US - cheerleaders and american marching bands interspersing many of the floats. Not enough oriental bits. Disappointing to say the least.

Day 5: The 1st of 3 days of Chinese New Year celebrations. We took the ferry across to Macau (or Macao as the Portugese say) but were sorely disappointed by the worn down industrial look. Macao's only highlight was the A-Ma temple (built into a rock hill) and the New Year celebrations (including noisy firework bursting) right outside.

Day 6: Took the MRT to Tung Chung which is on Lantau Island. Apparently Tung Chung used to be a backwater, with a few villages, a simple fishing harbour, and old rice fields. The modern world has since arrived with a vengeance - all connected to the development of the nearby state-of-the art Chek Lap Kok airport. After a long winded bus trip around hairpin bends of Lantau (that reminded me of the climb up to Ooty) we reached our destinantion - the Buddha is one of the most distinctive landmarks and in all it's bronze glory stands at 34m tall and weighs about 250 tonnes. The Buddha is part of the Po Lin Monastery which is at an altitude of 450 meters. We climbed all 268 stairs to reach the platform but it was well worth the effort for the wonderful view of the Lantau, of the little islands that surround it, and of the blue South China Sea. Back on the bus we noticed the neat villages and hamlets dotting Lantau's coast and lowlands. There's a cluster of them in the east, near the ferry pier at Mui Wo (or Silvermine Bay). Boosted by commuters and holidaymakers, they appear relatively prosperous. So too villages along Lantau's southern road, which are close to long, sandy beaches. It was an overcast but beautifully serene day and we enjoyed it very much.

From the entire trip the highlights for me were mainly the shopping - of which I did copious amounts - and the rolling fog we woke to each morning. Shopping so much so that we ended up buying a new strolly (haha - it was on the plan anyway!). My best buy was the Jade jewellery. The evenings with friends were great and Lan Kwai Fong will stick in my mind for some time to come.

The weather was mainly bright, mild - hot, sunny and clear - interspersed by the odd misty drizzle and rolling night to morning fogs. Back in London it is grey, greyer and greyest this week I am afraid. True to my predictions every year, February is colder than any other month. Shocking our systems and preparing our bones for much needed summer sun (she says hopefully). So we are back, at home, very much in the grey....

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