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Week 4 - Touristing

Fourth entry of my year in Hong Kong. Plenty of touristing the city and taking in the stunning skyline.

sunny 33 °C
View Bham->Dam->HK on David Zhao's travel map.

Posted on 23rd August 2020

Huge thanks to Dr and Mrs Holliday for awarding me the Nick Holliday Travel Scholarship, in memory of their son Nick who was a geography teacher at KES. He was an avid traveller, explorer and climber, and died tragically in a climbing accident doing what he loved. The Scholarship helps fund the travels of KES students who aspire to travel, which I am sure Nick would be very proud of.

Started the transformation from tourist to resident this week. Being able to speak Mandarin has made it easier for me than the other five, with locals running traditional restaurants in non-westernised areas being unable to speak English. Incredible how a five minute walk can take you from a westernised area - flashy Italian restaurants, English-speaking staff, recognised brands like Tesco's and Haagen-Daas - to somewhere you feel completely out of place, with all signs written in Chinese and an overwhelming bustling buzz. Will probably become so accustomed to local practices over the course of the year I'll feel out of place when back in Birmingham. Hopefully will become accustomed to mosquito bites too - these balloons on the outside of my ankle and behind my knee are a bit of a nuisance.

Started work this week which has been good in terms of getting into some sort of routine. Decorated the common room ready for when students come back. Lots of zoom training and meetings; highlight was meeting the kids in my House on a zoom call. Disappointing it all has to be done online, simply not the same as meeting them in person. Didn't realise how important my role as a Gap Tutor was; I am looked up to as an older brother by these Year 6-8s and am key in the House pastoral team. Excited about having a fairly important role in the school once it reopens.

Went into Tsim Sha Tsui on Tuesday, one of many conurbations of skyscrapers and luxury shops in HK. Atmosphere was very different to that around the school; busy, vibrant and slightly chaotic. Extremely densely populated with at least six floors of housing on top of ground-level stores, and numerous high-rise flats too. Also very expensive, with Tissot, Swatch, Rolex and Tag Heuer stores along the same road.
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Thursday was a bit of a weird one. After our gym session I challenged one of the boys to a race. Finish line was the basketball court sideline, one metre in front of the concrete wall of the sports hall. After narrowly beating me he decides not to decelerate whatsoever, despite a few tons of concrete sitting right in front of him. Hits the wall at full sprint with hands outstretched to brace for impact. Immediately falls to the floor with both arms tucked into his stomach, waves of shock and pain visibly going through his body. Attempts to walk it off and goes back to his room. Next we hear from him is three hours later, having returned from hospital. Two broken wrists (scaphoids) requiring operations and a splintered elbow from a 30m race in a sports hall - great start to the year. Felt bad for him until I remembered he was an Arsenal fan. Second time this year I've inadvertently broken somebody's bones; probably best to stay away from me in a sporting environment.

Went to Central on Sunday. Took a scenic ferry trip from Tsim Sha Tsui. Water was surprisingly clear considering there is a shipping port on the riverside. Don't think I've ever seen a stretch of city so expensive. HSBC international headquarters, countless modern skyscrapers with polished glass windows all the way up, all the HQ of some bank/finance company. There's literally a skyscraper called Revenue Building; this place is the epitome of a business hub. Given COVID restrictions and the fact it was Sunday, Central was relatively quiet, though still quite busy. Imagine what the atmosphere would be like on a typical weekday before COVID, swarming with internationally-renowned businesspeople and corporate executives. Mental.
Central, Hong Kong

Went to Hong Kong Park, located in Central. Like a bubble of calm in the midst of the metropolis. Beautiful trees, clean footpaths and a lake brimming with Koi carp. Cool to see all the different colour combinations, with black-gold, orange-white-black and the orange-pink ones my favourite. Very interesting fish, seemingly unafraid of humans but rather coming to the surface to say hi; they move very slowly and gracefully, even when you get close to the water's edge. Saw three or four turtles just chilling with them too.
Koi carp ft. Yung Oogway

In the evening we took a tram to the Peak, a built-up area on the mountainside overlooking Central. The tram was a scary experience, ascending the mountain at a ridiculously steep angle so that gravity forced us into the back supports of our seats for a good fifteen minutes, shaking the whole way and stopping a few times just to make sure we were scared. Some sort of mini shopping mall at the top with a rooftop terrace, famous for being the best viewpoint in HK. Easily the highlight of my year so far. Breathless is the closest I can come to describing how I felt when looking over the skyline. Seemed surreal. Sky was black yet it didn't seem dark at all; the city literally glows. Buildings that looked immense when on the ground didn't stand out whatsoever from the terrace. View was simply amazing, with countless skyscrapers seeming to merge into one glowing mass, yet strangely peaceful and not crowded or overwhelming in the slightest.
HK Skyline from the Terrace w/ genius on the left flexing his bionic arm

Normally the queue for the tram is over two hours and the terrace is packed. Due to COVID restrictions preventing tourists from coming into HK, we had both more or less to ourselves. Honestly can't emphasise how special the view was; stayed there for two hours taking it in.

Had a very busy week, working in the day and touristing in the evening. Straight back at it tomorrow, with a 7:50 start. Staying up till 5am to watch the UCL final isn't going to make it the most enjoyable of starts but we'll make do. So grateful to finally see what HK is all about after being cooped up in an apartment for two weeks. Looking forward to more touristing in the coming week.


Posted by David Zhao 09:39 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged touristing

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