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Weeks 40,41,42+43+44 - Junk

Weeks 40-44 of my year in HK. Still no travel abroad so just enjoying my last two months in HK, with a boat party, or junk, being the highlight.

sunny 34 °C

Posted on 7th June 2021

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.

Booked my return flight for the second week of July. Held out all year hoping that the situation would ease and borders would open for tourism, but I've finally admitted defeat. Despite flights for under £50 (normally), no Thailand, no Japan, no Vietnam. Does feel like a wasted opportunity given how close I am location-wise. Main reason I applied for the job too.

Regardless, it's been amazing year and I guess I can't complain too much as I've had a year better than most others. At the time of writing I have six weeks left here. Planning to spend them doing lots of water sports, revisiting some iconic places and eating lots of food. Still playing for DBFC and have quite a few leaving socials planned too.

Small anecdote: the clouds in HK move really fast. Weather forecasting here is very unreliable. It can be sunny and completely clear in the morning, and out of nowhere pour down for half an hour. Then it just stops and it's sunny again. Because of this relatively volatile climate, the sky often turns into a cool sight, probably to do with HK's subtropical location/climate. It becomes a blend of orange and purple. The clouds also form very unique shapes to create picturesque skies. I've attached two photos that I took at some point over the past 4 weeks to show you what I mean.
HK's unique skies

Week 40 (3rd - 9th May)

Standard week of work before we went to a bar on Friday called The Pontiac. Very American feel, like a hipster bar with neon lights and a jukebox; never really seen anything like it in the UK. The day after we went to Repulse Bay for a beach day. HK is full of buildings that are so fancy they don't seem real. There is one by Repulse Bay beach, with an avenue of palm trees next to a perfectly kept garden, and Rolls Royces parked out front.
Repulse Bay

Week 41 (10th - 16th May)

One of the girl gap tutors left this week. To see her off we went swimming in the sea at night, which is what we did on our first night out of quarantine. Sea was really warm and it was a nice way to finish the year as a six. The next day we went to Bloomsway luxury apartments to use their outdoor pool - it was 33° - which was amazing. The apartments are ridiculously fancy and their pool was like something you'd see in Hollywood. Fortunate that we knew someone there.
Swimming in the sea and Bloomsway

Week 42 (17th - 23rd May)

Had my first ever bank holiday Wednesday this week for Buddha's birthday. Really inconvenient day to have it; the boarders left on Tuesday afternoon, only to come back on Wednesday evening. Also you can't really do anything as it's only one day, whereas bank holiday Mondays give you a 3-day weekend and allow you to go stay somewhere if you want. UK really has done a good job of making them all Mondays. Was quite awkward to have it on a Wednesday, having to be ready for work at 7pm for when the kids came back.

Went back to Francis right after we 'broke up' on the Tuesday. My favourite restaurant in HK, serving homemade Middle-Eastern food like pita bread, hummus and then grilled lamb or beef.

Did a hike on the Wednesday. The MacLehose trail runs behind school and takes you up to the Thousand Islands Reservoir. Walk there took about two hours, and it was fairly busy at the top. Surprising to see so many braving the 33° heat; I was drenched in sweat after about five minutes of walking. Very clear day, which meant that at the top we could see Shenzhen. Never seen it so clearly before; the city is made up of hundreds of skyscrapers, any one of which would be at least as tall as the BT Tower. Then there is the Ping An Finance Centre (4th tallest building in the world) which genuinely towers over all of them. None of them reach over two-thirds of the way up the Ping An tower. It's insane, and I still can't believe I haven't been able to visit Shenzhen this year even though it's only a 30 min train journey away.

Other side of the peak was the reservoir, which was really cool. Never seen anything like it before coming to HK; there is a similar one in Sai Kung, where we went camping on the beach. Lots of manmade dunes with sand bases but green tops. Water flows around these dunes, and runs down the mountain in little pipes; there are some free drinking-water taps along the trail. It overlooks the airport and the sea, and there is a path that runs all the way around the reservoir which is nice. Apparently the Buddha's birthday bank holiday is awful to go into town on; it's so busy. Everywhere is booked and roads and pavements are crammed. Therefore lots of people choose to do a hike instead, which is free and much more peaceful.
Thousand Island Reservoir, HK

Went to Mong Kok markets on the Saturday. The stock they have is unreal: Ralph Lauren shirts for £2, Gucci wallets (which I think look awful anyway) for £10, Fjallraven bags for £10. Spent over three hours looking through the stalls. Favourite was a football shirt stall which sold the new Euros kits for £12. Quality was really good; apparently in mainland China it's even higher, sometimes even better than the genuine versions.
Mong Kok markets

Followed this up with steak at La Vache, which was quality; unlimited chips and a huge piece of black forest cake. The restaurant was about 5 minutes from the TST waterfront, so we walked along it after our meal. Been here for 10 months and I'm still in awe at the skyline at night; there's nothing else like it.
La Vache and the night skyline

Week 43 (24th - 30th May)

Hiked to Cape D'Aguilar, a small peninsula with rocky beaches and a marine park. Really beautiful; felt more like Cornwall or Devon than Hong Kong. Quite breezy and grey, with rocky paths and actual grass. Grass is so rare here. Along the way we saw over thirty golden orb spiders, the biggest of which was bigger than my hand at about 20cm in leg-span. They were gold, almost metallic in colour, and moved very differently to spiders I've seen before; much slower and controlled rather than scuttling. In terms of comfort and enjoyment, one of the best hikes I've done.
Cape D'Aguilar, and golden orb weavers

Went to Popinjays for brunch the day after, located in the Murray hotel. One of the nicest places to eat in HK - it's on the 26th floor and overlooks Hong Kong park - and it's normally one of the most expensive too. However we got a really good discount, reducing their brunch from around £80 to £30, which in terms of value for money was amazing. Buffet starters consisted of bread and cheese, Iberico ham and chorizo, smoked salmon and tuna steak. Dessert was also a buffet, with chocolate truffle cake, scones with whipped cream and three types of cheesecake. With how much we ate and how good the quality was, we almost feel like we ripped them off by paying only £30, but we weren't complaining.
Popinjays (first photo shows buffet-style Iberico ham and chorizo

Week 44 (31st May - 6th June)

Three day half-term this week. Main event was the junk, or boat party, on the Tuesday. Never been on one before, but apparently they're very common here in HK. The lady who organised the junk knew some people, so we managed to get a decent deal too, and bringing our own food and drinks made it cheaper as opposed to paying for catered service. Left Sai Kung at 10:30am and headed to Millionaire's Bay, a well-sheltered area of water with a beach nearby too. The beach is only accessible by boat, so it's very private and secluded.
Millionaire's Bay, Sai Kung. Most junk boats come here due to the calm water, beautiful setting and secluded beach

Spent the day partying and swimming. The boat had a slide going off the top deck, so we used this before we realised that jumping off was equally as fun. There were a couple of inflatables, but the highlight was definitely the speedboat. Very old which is probably why we got it for so cheap, but I don't know why you'd need anything else as it does its job of going fast. Tried wakeboarding for the first time, and managed to stand up on my third attempt. Absolutely loved it; the water we wakeboarded on had beautiful mini green islands dotted around the periphery, which made it a beautiful place to relax in. The water was warm and clean, and we even saw two stingrays jump out of the water. Easily my best day since being in Hong Kong, and honestly I don't think anything can beat it.
Junk partying, and wakeboarding


Covid here seems to be very under control. No untraceable cases for over 40 days. Weird given how few people have the vaccine; I think just over 10% are fully vaccinated. Seems to be a skepticism of the safety of the vaccines, mainly from non-Westerners. Bit annoying as we still have to wear masks, and it's becoming even hotter and more humid which makes it quite uncomfortable.

Other than the travel abroad, I've done everything I set out to do. Explored Hong Kong thoroughly, both the fancy areas and the less wealthy island settlements. Got lots of experience from the job, making contacts and learning everyday. Decent year overall. Five weeks left to make the most of.


Posted by David Zhao 13:47 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged junk

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