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Peter Snow Cao
Howdy, Hong Kong
Copyright © Peter Snow Cao, 2000.
In Hong Kong Skip to: Howdy Hong Kong | Camping in Hong Kong?
Howdy, HONG KONG! Chungking Mansion, Block D, 11th Floor
Wow! Another big city. Flying in at night was like a hot fudge sundae for the eyes. Rainer found a place to stay in Chungking Mansions. The room is more like a closet measuring 1.6 meter by 1. 8 meters (5' X 6'). We paid $70 HK dollars for it or about US$10. Not bad considering where we are, on the 11th floor above a huge shopping arcade.
October 13 Hong Kong
Yet another busy day. After a sleepless night as well. The bargain windowless closet we had last night was fairly quiet until about 1 AM when a large party of Indians invaded the halls and rose the dead. In addition, Rainer was extremely restless tossing and turning all night. The temperature was quite warm by morning from our body heat plus the heat of the fan. In the room next to our were four Indian men, three on the two-person bunk bed, and one sleeping on the floor with the door open. When we got up they were dead to world.
We applied for our China visas today at a cost of HK$110, about US$15. They will be ready Tuesday evening. We then found some bike shops. The second one we located happened to be the center for touring cyclists traveling in Asia with particularly good information on China. Mr. Lee of Flying Ball Bicycle Company at 201 Tung Choi Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
He had several scrapbooks filled with letters from touring cyclists writing to him about what the touring conditions in China are like. Some of the letters were very detailed. I took notes and will copy them in here later. Reading the letter made me very excited about going to China. I can't wait!
Mr. Lee said the way to get in was through Macao, the tiny city-state 60 km west of here. Apparently the train from Hong Kong can't be used because the guards at the border turn cyclists back (editorial note: This is no longer the case.) Also it is very common for cyclists to run into the PSB (China's Police known as the Public Security Bureau). We have to try and get a list of open/closed cities before we go. If we get caught in a closed area several things could happen.
1. Get sent back where we came from (the nearest open city). The writers say it is often best to say you came from where you want to go.
2. The PSB will require us to write a self-confession
3. Get put on a bus or a train.
4. Get fined.
5. Have the bicycle and/or camera equipment confiscated.
6. Any combination of the above.
Here is a summary of what we read today:
* Travel like a fugitive, camp out in closed areas or arrive after dark and ask a small restaurant for accommodation.
* Enter China through Macao.
* Say you are going to Guangzhou at the border.
* If you get a travel permit to pass through closed areas, say you are traveling by bus or car and then change the permit.
* The PLA (People's Liberation Army) is not a problem. The are generally helpful.
* When encountering unfriendly police, don't give up your passport, speak German or Spanish.
* Don't show your anger.
* Claim a bicycle is the only transportation you can afford.
Various travel routes used by other cyclists.
* Yunnan is recommended
* Tiger Leaping Gorge is not good for cycling through
* Wuzhou to Yangshou is very good
* Sichuan to Yunnan is the best part of China
* Dali to Lijiang to Dukau to Chengdu
* Macao to Doumen to Xinhui to Kaiping to XinXin to Dinghu to Snashui to Guangzhou, then take the overnight ferry to Wuzhou, then take the bus to Yangshou, ferry to Guilin to Longshen to Sanjiang to Rong'an to Rongshui.
* Gunagxi Province is difficult
* One person rode from Macao to Fuzhou in 15 days.
* Tibet: Check points are not a problem on the way to Lhasa except at three places: Dege, Ginhai and the town just before the Tanguela Pass separating Qinghai from Tibet.
All this talk about China and I am neglecting the place I am in now, Hong Kong!
And what a place it is! Huge buildings cover everything that is not sidewalk or pavement. The drivers are amazingly polite, rarely honking and carefully passing. The same is true with pedestrians; they are careful about their own space trying to keep from bumping into each other and patiently waiting in line. It must be the British influence.
Neon is everywhere. Sign hang out over the roadway several stories high. There are many, many Westerners walking the streets, and a lot of Indians selling things like fake Rollex watches and running hostels.
The Chinese women are looking very, very nice. I accidentally brushed against a woman last night and her long hair was so soft. I felt turned on by that brief encounter.
I met Ann from the Inn-Daewon in Seoul here tonight and will try seeing here tomorrow about getting a Chinese phrasebook. Maybe I should take my Indonesia phrasebook and trying exchanging them.
Hong Kong is such a great example of what happened when consumerism runs wild. Shopping seems to be the reason it is here.
An unexpected pleasure happened today. Rainer and I found a Western-style supermarket and lots of familiar products we haven't seen for ages. We were literally like kids in a candy store running around picking up things and showing them to each other. ("Hey, Peter, look I found Muesili!" "Rainer, come see the peanut butter!") We got fruit, granola, Canadian honey (good, but not as good as New Zealand honey) dark Swiss Rye bread, and most precious of all, peanut butter. This is the first I have had in four months since Australia in early June. I also bought some bananas, a bargain at HK$2.80 per pound. We went to the nearby park and had a feast eating for an hour. Wow, what a great find! I didn't realize how much I missed the foods I usually eat.
And speaking of eating, a big development in my diet has occurred. I discovered from the U.K. couple I met in Chiang Mai on the highlands trek that lactose intolerance is usually short lived. The body adjusts somehow such that after six months or so one can start consuming diary products again. I went a bit crazy in Korea with ice cream two or three times a day.
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