KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
I have been very fortunate to meet and get to know a wonderful friend, Tamara Dolinsky, through my acupuncture treatments at the Shen Health and Wellness Centre in Edmonton. She has spent several years working, studying and teaching traditional medicine in China. She gave us some excellent tips on things to do in Hong Kong. As she told me about the Star Ferry and the double-decker bus ride from the ferry terminal on Hong Kong island to the famous Stanley Market, her eyes danced with excitement. She advised us to be sure to sit at the very front of the upper deck, even if it meant letting a bus or two pass us by. We followed this advice and met with the thrill-ride of a lifetime.
Words cannot describe the feeling of climbing Hong Kong's heavily-wooded hills on narrow roads just skimming under the overhanging branches. I worried that the buses were not built for large Canadians sitting on the upper deck thereby raising the center of gravity of the bus. Would we tip sideways as we passed over the top of the hills and began our hair-raising descent down to the beaches at Deep Water and Repulse Bays. Were these bodies of water named deliberately to deal with unwitting foreigners as they passed from the most populated side of the island to the quieter, more remote areas away from the skyscrapers and the hubbub of commerce? Repulse?? Deep Water?? Sounded ominous...
We were on the road early that morning due to the jet lag, so when we arrived at the delightful Stanley Market, most of the stalls were just setting up. We decided to duck into a cafe called Delifrance (found out later they are a franchise with outlets all over Hong Kong). Had a great coffee and breakfast and then set out to wander through the market. Tamara had told us we would be very tempted to buy things, but after spending the last six months getting rid of everything, we weren't tempted at all. Just as we were finished up the tour buses starting disgorging all the tourists and we jumped back on the double-decker bus to travel up the cliffs again.
We thought that we would have to do all the way back to the bus terminus but then we saw another bus half way down the north side of the island - it was heading up to Victoria Peak, so we jumped off one bus and on to the other. We have to be very careful crossing the street hurriedly, as the traffic flows on the opposite side of the road and it is easy to misjudge the oncoming traffic and get hit. Once we were safely on the Peak bus, we laughed at our good fortune that we did not have to go all the way down to come all the way up again!
One of the things that we did when we first arrived, is purchase an Octopus Card. It is named for the eight different arms of the metro - but can be used on most forms of transportation in Hong Kong and you can even use it to purchase items in the 7-11. It was a great time saver as we were not having to dig for change all the time as we got off and on the various buses and metro. When we were done with the card, we were able to get a refund for the unused portion. Now why can't we have something like this in Edmonton?
The view from Victoria Peak was breath-taking - in more ways than one. Please have a look at the photos we took from up there. Unfortunately, the sky was pretty hazy that day - there are very few clear days anymore - the pollution is a great concern. After walking around and enjoying the cool breeze we went for a coffee at the Pacific Coffee Company and learned that they provide free internet access if you make a purchase. We seemed to be the only ones interested that day, so I was able to catch up with a lot of emails from the top of Hong Kong Island.
We took the metro back to Kowloon; it passes under the bay - not as scenic as the Star Ferry but very convenient for commuters. We got off at Kowloon Park in order to see the display of lanterns - part of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations. After that, we called it a day and headed back to our room at the YWCA.