Archive for June, 2007

Week 1 – The Hong Kong Handover

June 27, 2007

Well folks it’s almost 10 years since Chris Patten sailed off from the yacht club and left Hong Kong his own children crying by his side and 3 years since my last visit.  I remember my parents telephoning me to check I was ok as they had seen the Chinese troops crossing the border. I’m pleased to report that the terrible economy post handover has disappeared and there’ s now a real buzz about the place and property prices are on the up. The only difference now is it feels soooo much cheaper than London, but then again the exchange rate helped !! 

So firstly I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all of my friends who took me for lunches, dinners, and to relax at the cricket club and to Ali, Jane and Hils for letting me stay. Just remember my door is always open when I get back to the UK. For spare beds, meals, Sally’s tours – whatever you need…… it was also brilliant to see all of the children. Some of whom I had never met and those that have grown up so much since my last visit.

So what have I been up to…………….

Amazingly, I packed everything in my rucksack and a day bag and did not have to leave anything behind, though still feel I’ve brought too much. So with Andrew the lodger safely installed I left for the airport. I rejected the offer of a driver and got the train and bus to Stanley on the south side of Hong Kong Island. After a few directions from Ali I got off at the correct stop and made my way to her flat. Suddenly I could hear a rhythmic throbbing noise, was it the sound of my heart straining under the weight of my rucksack?             NO……….              Was it the realisation that I haven’t packed my hair straightners and humidity is 90% and I now look like I’ve been for a session at the hair crimping saloon?       NO…..    I was near Stanley beach, it’s a bank holiday and it was the noise of the drummers on the boats at the annual dragon boat festival. What a relief !!!

Actually, my arrival date was specially planned. Ali was not only kindly putting me up but also Rachel and Wendy now living in Canberra and Singapore were already there with their 3 year olds. So off to lunch in Stanley and with the arrival of Hilary we had 4 of the 5 former flatmates in place. Or to those of you who remember Hong Kong the Totty Towers brigade. (I was a lot younger in those days…). After a couple of bottles of champagne (well I am backpacking) we retired back to the children and the pool. Wendy left that evening for the airport and Rachel the following morning so it was time to catch up with the other expats.

Sherrin – thanks for the short but sweet time we had at Reds, trust you to take me to the trendiest place in town and hope you enjoyed Bali. Ali thanks for a fab dinner and Jennifer it was lovely to see you and spend time at the cricket club with the girls. Thursday night was a quick drink with Ivor and then dinner with Jane at Habibi’s (that well known Hong Kong Egyptian restaurant).  Jane has the most adorable dog and two cats. Unfortunately they don’t get on but the cats are so friendly that they come and jump on your bed during the night and normally not one without the other. A relaxing Friday planning my next countries followed by a night out in Bulldogs in Wan Chai.

Wan Chai has always been a bit seedy i.e the days of Suzy Wong but now some of the old favourites like Joe Bananas have really gone down hill. But Bulldogs was spacious and I hope the surprise inhabitant Jon Ervine from Novell wasn’t too hungover the next day. It’s nice to know some people, well Justin, Paul and Ivor don’t change. After a bit of dancing and a fair amount of wine I struggled back to Happy Valley.

Saturday was spent with Paul, Helen and Hils at the cricket club and then a dash back to Ali’s for the Swedish Maypole party. Midsummer is the second biggest holiday in Sweden so you must all dance around the maypole and eat  traditional food. Of course the party also contains lots of beautiful Swedish people and yet more champagne (it’s a hard life). Sunday, you guessed it back to the cricket club and then a relocation to Hilary’s 45th floor apartment, no fire alarms tests thank goodness.

Monday I visited my old stomping ground at Discovery Bay – Rebecca thanks for lunch and Tracy, Brett, Martin and JR thanks for the lovely Szechuan although I think I suffered a bit from the extra spicy “Duck in Beer” (I’m not making that up) the next day.

Travellers tip no.1 – Too much sun on arms makes rucksack painful to carry  the next day.

So I didn’t really do anything touristy but I’ve done that all before, it’s still one of the best 24 hour places in the world that’s for sure.

Then yesterday I packed, managed a quick coffee with Jane and Hils and then off to the airport where I left for Bangkok. I am now in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand so will do an update in a few days as I’m off to do a Thai cooking course tonight and hopefully book some treks to go to the hill tribes and the golden triangle.

Yes it’s amazing I did leave Hong Kong, I know some thought I wouldn’t.

I hope everyone is well and I’ll try and add some pictures for the next posting – another job for this evening.

Once again a big thank you to everyone who looked after me and to those who didn’t get the chance to catch up or were out of town – next time………..

Take care

Sally xxx