My first destination was Hong Kong: definitely a contender for ‘most Westernised city in Asia’. This makes it a good mid-way point between the West and China, and a popular stop for backpackers.
Like many Asian cities, Hong Kong is hot, muggy and packed with people. The monsoons, which are just about ending in September, add to this with steam coming from the streets, but don’t put a damper on peoples’ daily lives. I do feel sorry for the people wearing suits, though.
The journey started well: not only did I get a seat in an exit row (score) on my flight, but Dad met me at the airport with Mum and Keith – a great surprise, as I thought that he was in Bath. He delivered travel essentials like a money belt and a fold-out frisbee.
The 12-hour flight was uneventful and I touched down at 7am, Hong Kong time (midnight BST). In an attempt to avoid jet lag, I tried to power through and avoid sleep until the evening. Almost made it!
I caught an airport shuttle to my hostel, the Yesinn@Causeway Bay, which is very central on Hong Kong Island. Very impressed with the HK public transport system: almost German in its efficiency. Speaking of Germans, I walked through the door of the hostel with another backpacker from the same bus: a guy called Thomas, from Cologne.
We went to get food together and kill time before the 2pm check-in. We got dumplings (delicious), found the unintentionally-hilarious Fuk Hing Lane, and snuck into the Royal Yacht Club to get a view of HK Island from the sea. While there, ‘we’ (Thomas) decided to walk to the other side of the bay to reach Central Pier. It took four and a half hours in 30 degree heat!
At the end of the day, I met a group who had just got back from their own Dragon Trip. They gave some good advice on what to do (Chinese cooking lessons), what to avoid (the Big Buddha in Chengdu) and where to spend your money (the Fake Goods Market in Beijing)
The next day was more relaxed, visiting the Hong Kong Museum of History and trying pigs’ ear soup for dinner. The day after that was shopping in Mong Kok, in Kowloon (the mainland part of Hong Kong), and had a drink with Jo, a former Dragon Tripper, in Soho. This is very much the Westerners’ area; I hadn’t seen so many white faces since leaving Heathrow!
The next day was my first of the Dragon Trip, so it was an early night ready for a 6am start. Hong Kong is brilliant, and I’m really looking forward to getting back (which I will have done by the time that you read this).