Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hong Kong- the first stop

We like to do things in stages, especially these days, so a stopover in Hong Kong, a visit with an old friend and a bit of sightseeing was on the cards.

The Qantas flight out of Sydney was great. Spacious seats that turned into lie-flat beds and no problems with Nick using his oxygen as required. The only leg where he was allowed to simply plug in. Meals were reasonable, some nice wines and even a nap for us both. I also got in three movies, Philomena, The Hunger Games and Saving Mr Banks. More than I usually get in a year.
Into Hong Kong and onto the City Flyer bus into the chaotic heart. That trip down Nathan Road is always painfully slow but very colourful. The weather was smoggy and humid, the sun a lurid orange like a bush fire sun. Not a good omen for clear views and we got none. Into our hotel, a wander around to find a meal (PizzaExpress was surprisingly good) and time for bed.

Next morning we decided on a trip out to Stanley. We had been before and quite enjoyed it. The bay is very pretty. The panorama shot taken with my little Panasonic TZ40 distorts the shape somewhat but I love being able to pan across and have it make the panorama for me.

Stanley Bay Panorama_edited-1

There was a Chinese procession with much waving of flags and banging of drums, apparently to bless a new shop opening on the foreshore, so we enjoyed that and then explored the historic buildings, Murray House and the associated pier (seen in the panorama) both of which appear to have been transplanted to Stanley from Central. Preservation of heritage seems very lively in Hong Kong.


Stanley parade Stanley flags_edited-1
Murray house passage_edited-1

Corridor beneath Murray House

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Murray House, now lovely restaurants rather than Government offices. Love the fans on the verandas.


We wandered a bit more and happened on some sculptures with  a theme of the ocean and a sub-theme of ocean rubbish. I liked this one made ingeniously of drink bottles, suspended in a wave form and filled with various amounts and shades of blue.

stanley sculpture_edited-1

Back to Central where we caught the Star Ferry across the harbour. By now the view was very clouded over and it looked like any  pretty photos were out of the question. So a rather drab panorama of the waterfront and piers.

HK waterfront panorama_edited-1

That evening we caught up with a friend of mine from Queensland University days, Joanna. We met at the Aqua Bar high up with the very misty view back to Hong Kong. We had lovely cocktails, went on to dinner at Mask, and got a photo of Jo and Nick at the Peninsula Hotel fountain.


Looking down from the 29th floor Aqua bar to the restaurant and the foreshore

Nick and Joanna

Nick and Joanna. Wish this had been our hotel (The Peninsula)

Wednesday was very drear. Rainy and misty. First to Heritage 1881, the old Maritime Police Headquarters, now recently beautifully restored and repurposed into a fine new hotel and some very glamorous, high end shops. There is a small museum to the history of the place, the Time Ball Tower for setting maritime midday has been reinstated and the gardens manicured to within an inch of their lives. Even on a rainy day it was rather lovely.

Heritage square3_edited-1
The overdressed entrance

1881 shops_edited-1
Some expensive shops

1881 ball tower_edited-1

The Time Ball Tower and gardens

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Lovely old plantation shutters

We visited the Museum and found ourselves without context to assess the art. We could see the calligraphy and ink paintings were beautiful, but how to decide why they were judged so special was beyond our abilities. We were more able to relate to the contemporary photographs that seemed to put everyday life in perspective, such as the rooftops of buildings, everything from glamorous bars to the detritus of life.

Outside in the square we were able to photograph many sculptures from the exhibition of Sculptures of Everyday Life. Like a comedian finds the mundane details of life and highlights them, so these sculptures also did. From the crowd of businessmen to the platoon of soldiers, the paratroopers to the children on a see saw; beautiful observations of life.

museum sculpture 3_edited-1
Waiting in the rain

museum sculpture 2_edited-1
Eyes down, stand in line

Museum sculpture1_edited-1
Coming in for a landing

museum forecourt_edited-1
You can see how grey the day was

Lunch at a yum cha place overlooking the harbour where we were the only non-Asian faces under the crystal chandeliers. We ordered rather safely I’m afraid, but enjoyed the meal.
A slight detour via the Harbourside mall, a place of conspicuous consumption, where we wandered past Versace and Chanel and Chopard and Max Mara…the list goes on. This place runs for several blocks over three levels and I think I could probably afford some food from the deli on the top floor. This is just one of the levels with its pretty glass ceiling. Not that they are trying to emulate the grandes magasins in Paris…


ocean mall_edited-1
Next stop: Budapest

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