The morning was grey and as my view of the mountain from my 16th floor room was obscured by thick mist so decided to postpone my plan to go to Victoria Peak. Instead caught the ferry to explore the local streets and markets in Kowloon. My guide book featured an interesting looking walk so I headed up Nathan Road to the Tin Hau temple. On the way I sidestepped into Kowloon Park, which is an oasis of green amid the surrounding skyscrapers but so neat and carefully cultivated it felt manufactured rather than natural. Continuing my walk up Nathan road, modern shops and buildings contrasted vividly with the bent, gnarled banyan trees that lined the street..
I nearly walked past the temple, not realising I’d passed it. Inside were shrines to different Gods.. In the short time I was there, it surprised me how many people came to honour the Gods. The air was heavy with the smoky perfume of incense, which was funnelled by strange birdcage-shaped frames made from bamboo that hung from the ceiling. Lit sticks were placed next to offerings of fruit in front of the ornate, colourful statues. Before leaving, those paying their respects, bowed then hit a gong at the side of the room.
Because it was Chinese New Year the Jade market was closed. At least it saved me having to resist the temptation to spend money on jewellery though I might go back on my last day. I did however find a street market with stall after stall filled with fruit and vegetables, half of which I didn’t recognise.
While standing in one narrow street, I met a Hong Kong family. Their two little boys, who were both under four, were counting up to thirty in English and were very happy when they found out I was English. They were very cute though counting was about as far as their bi-lingual skills went.
After lunch in the Chinese Kitchen, I caught the train to Times Square in Causeway Bay to look round the shops there. While drifting through the streets with no destination or plan in mind, I found a bustling market down streets so dark and narrow I thought for a moment I was in a covered area. I did manage to find my way back to the hotel with a short stop at Starbucks for a cup of good old English tea and a spot of people watching.
This evening I walked to Wan Chai harbour to watch the fireworks. It was a half hour spectactular shower of rainbow colours that lit up the night sky and reflected magicallyoff the tall glass buildings edging the water. I tried to catch it on camera but the lens can’t do it justice. So many people crowded the harbour yet I was impressed how quietly and orderly everyone was on leaving. No mad scramble like at home. Streets were closed to traffic making it a lot easier to clear the area.
To finish off the evening I went down the basement bar in the hotel to claim my complimentary pint of lager, can’t miss out on a free drink.