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Down UnderShopper’s Paradise

On 2 November 2004 from Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR , trackback

After dinner on Sunday evening I walked along the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui, looking at the amazing skyline of Hong Kong Island. It was quite busy with lots of people in weird Haloween costumes, which was fun to watch.

On Monday I took the Star Ferry to Central, where I walked around among the skyscrapers for a while, before catching a ferry to Lantau Island. Hong Kong’s largest island also has the largest bronze outdoor seated Buddha statue, and that was where I was headed. From the island’s ferry terminal it took another 45 minutes or so to Po Lin, the monastery and temple complex. With a height of over 26 metres and located on top of a hill, the Tian Tan Buddha statue is quite impressive indeed. After wandering around the temple complex and statue, I took the bus and MTR to Mong Kok. However, I could not find the shops I was looking for there, and went back to Tsim Sha Tsui.

In the evening I took the Star Ferry to Central, and the bus up to The Peak for the last time. The skyline looked really impressive from there, even though it seemed a bit foggy during the day. But that was probably smog, although there are not as many cars as I thought there would be. Lots of busses and taxis, and every other car seems to be Mercedes, BMW or Jaguar.

Today I planned to visit some museums in Tsim Sha Tsui, but I had forgotten to check their opening days, and it turned out that all the interesting museums close on Tuesdays. My impromptu alternative was to take the train to Sha Tin, where the 10.000 Buddhas monastery is located. I did not count them, but reliable sources conveyed to me that there are actually more than 12.000 Buddhas in the monastery, and I had no trouble believing that. After seeing enough Buddhas for the day (week, month, year…) I took the train and bus to Kam Tin. There are two walled/fortified villages in this area, and I visited them both, but somehow the villages completely failed to impress. I could have saved myself quite some time here, since the villages were in the New Territories, quite a distance from Tsim Sha Tsui.

I decided to spend the rest of the day doing what Hong Kong is most renowned for: shopping. Hong Kong is really a shopper’s paradise, from small Chinese shops to large luxurious malls, the city’s favourite pastime is definitely shopping. I am pretty sure clothing is a lot cheaper than back home, but I just could not be bothered getting any (it would not fit in my backpack anyway, but I would be rich now if I got 20 eurocents for every time a tailor’s businesscard was offered to me). However, for electronics the city does not always compare favourably with Dutch internet shops. The new watch I want is not available in Asia (presumably because there are no time calibration radio signals broadcasted). Mobile phones are only slightly cheaper, but the contract discounts in the Netherlands do not make it worthwhile to buy a new mobile phone elsewhere. I did get an Apple iPod mini though, since they were some 20% cheaper than back home.

This is the last post I am writing from abroad (I hope to be back in the Netherlands Wednesday 06.30 CET). I will probably write some more things once I get back home, but for now there is only one thing I still want to mention. Recently I realised that one common element of all the countries I have visited in the last 11,5 months (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Macau) is the fact that in all of these places people were driving on the left hand side of the road, and I got completely used to that. You may want to remember this when I hit the road some time next week…



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