Overtech takes on Hong Kong

The adventure of Overtech in Hong Kong!

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Peak, you freak

Sunny days seem rare in Hong Kong, and on one of Mary's days off we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and headed to the Peak. The Peak roughly describes the mountainous inland area on Hong Kong Island, characterised by super-expensive housing (Clifton pales in comparison) and natural sub-tropical bush.

The Peak offers the best views of the city and is accessible by road and rail. We opted for rail, which involves jumping on the Peak tram - Honk Kong's oldest and still functioning form of public transport (it has been running for roughly over 100 years). It is also the safest, with no accidents recorded to date. And a good thing too, especially because the tram is inclined at what feels like a 45 degree angle for most of the journey. The views are of course breathtaking, with the hyper-modern city peering out of the jungle canopy in the foreground. On clear days - such as this one - you can see over the Island, into Kowloon and the New Territories, and I suspect, if one knew what to look for, possibly China.

Of course, any trip up the tram is by no means an escape from Hong Kong, and at the top is the huge glass and stainless steel Peak Mall. This very distinctive t-shaped building was being renovated when we went, but luckily for us there just happened to be a second mall - oh joy.

The mall is strictly t
ourist class, with a few day-to-day trimmings for the ultra rich who live on the peak - like a Park 'n Shop (HK Pick 'n Pay). But at $50 for an icecream cone, its best to be avoided.

There is a viewing station on top which - while not ancient - is pretty old, and offers some really nice views - especially of the house right below. Imagine paying hundreds of millions of dollars for a mansion over looking the city, only to have fat sweaty red-faced tourists gawping at you from the view station above. In fact the view was so good I could tell you that the two Jack Russels living there had leather collars.

Mary was quite taken by the Lion statues which litter the place. Here they are with the cityscape unfolding below:

Friday, May 05, 2006

We have arrived

So we arrived in HK last week, and for two little backwater hicks like us, it was an amazing cultural shock.

For those of you unfamiliar with Johannesburg, South Africa, it is a city but only in the loosest sense: The urban core is rotten and completely degraded, while the "real city" is comprised of low level office blocks and suburbs that surround it for kilometer after kilometer.

Hong Kong - obviously - is completely different. And while we did our research before coming here, you can never prepare yourself for entirely. The first thing that shocked me was the ease with which everything worked. By the time we had walked off the plane and into the airport proper, our luggage was already on the luggage belt. We whizzed through customs and right in the station was the airport express pointed directly at the island. A somewhat melancholic voice announced in English and Chinese that the train would leave the airport every 12 minutes - I laughed at that, the thought of Chinese official dismayed that they could not make it faster banging round my mind. I sure a quick tour of the rail facilities in South Africa would have them either laughing out loud or scared witless. My money is on scared!

Also, amazingly the smells of Hong Kong also caught us by surprise. A friend once told us of a travel story they read titles "Hong Pong", and it was certainly brought to mind. But to be fair the city does not stink, it just happens to be very pungent. This is not the smell of Maputo in Mozambique, where the heaped garbage piles complete with the open sewerage for most dominant stink. Hong Kong is a million road side food stalls cooking foreign food, a million cars and a million air conditioners, and fighting for space at the same time. Granted this was in Wan Chai, and not the poshed up neighbourhoods of Central, or Causeway Bay (we haven't been to the Mid Levels or the Peak yet).

Another thing that amazed me was the lack of birds. Its not that there are no birds, but the din of the city drowns them out, and in the concrete jungle there is little place for them (the city is filled with parks, but all of them are made up of concrete slabs or paving, even the soccer fields). That, and the government "discourages" fraternisation with the avian species because the threat of bird flu (as the picture demonstrates).

Well that's it for now. Remember: Keep 'em Peeled!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

This is the funky introduction!

Blogs blow, mainly because they resemble liberals - both are opinionated and whiney.

However they are quite useful when trying to keep the wider circle of friends and family up-to-date on extraordinary happenings.

So for those of you that don't know, this blog is dedicated to my impending emigration to Honk Kong. I vow to filter as much opinion, interpretation and bias out of it as possible and show it like it is.

So as they used to say on Police File: "Keep 'em peeled!"