For my second day in Hong Kong, my mobile phone (which I was trying to charge) woke us up at 6:00 and I had to sleep in for another hour before having a hot shower. Given that the weather in Hong Kong was even cooler than on Tuesday and much cooler than the average 18˚C January weather, my mother ordered me to wear two T-shirts to compensate for the lack of jumpers or proper shoes. I had as a result to wear my “pyjama” T-shirt over a white one which acted like the flanelette singlets I wear during winter at home, but Mummy said that I looked better and less fat because my outer T-shirt was not tucked in as I usually do to avoid my pants tickling.
Once we were all dressed, we headed down to the first floor for a breakfast that my experience in (otherwise disappointing) Kuala Lumpur twelve days ago had showed could serve as a full day’s meal. When we reached the dining room, I gorged myself on two bowls of Coco Pops, one of Sultana Bran, and later on bread and jam, with additional meals of fruit adding variety along with some sweet white coffee. After we left I was full, but my mother said I should have eaten more vegetables rather than carbohydrate to reduce my calorie intake and mass.
After going back up to plan the day’s excursions, we decided to travel up the mountains adjacent to Hong Kong’s famous cable car on the outlying island of Lantau, though at first my brother was confused and we went on the wrong train line and we saw areas that looked even more run-down than we had seen the previous day. Once we found the right train ride, however, the day became a memorable and exciting trip through very scenic mountains and endless shades of green.
Once on Lantau Island, we had no trouble reaching the number 23 bus which took us to Po Lin Monastery. Although my mother and brother hate religion, they did take a long time looking at the Big Buddha statue amidst the beautiful, often bare mountain scenery of Lantau Island. The bare patches of granite were surprising in such a hot, wet climate at elevations that do not exceed 957 metres anywhere in Hong Kong, but they made the landscape both more beautiful and more familiar for one who used to read pictures of protected areas in my Australian homeland. The Buddha statue was both familiar in form and surprising in size, but the views from Po Lin over even the village were quite amazing. There were some unusual flags to add to the view, and it was one of the most spectacular I have actually experienced, beaten only by my view of Mount Fuji in Japan.
After going back down to the village, we had a warm hot chocolate in Starbucks and then, despite an intense debate, we went on the cable car, and it was a terrific experience. Although I feared what would happen if the cord of the car broke - and imagined it as worse than falling on soft or slippery snow in a properly cold climate - we got through the whole trip remarkably smoothly and had no troubles at all. The scenery was superb and even wild; and in spite of the low-level fog from the Siberian High there were some very good sea views.
The cable car took us so far down that after a short sojourn in a souvenir shop we went up again on a different bus, this time seeing a quaint fishing village that reminded me of what Hong Kong was like before industrialisation. The specialised fish markets - though we did not buy anything - were particularly fascinating to look at with the old people drying fish for sale and salting them to keep for lean periods.
The last part of our journey, by which time I was really tired, saw me make an unfortunate mistake of not clicking on my “Octopus” card before going back to the ferry on the bus. Actually, I deceived the driver thinking the bus ticket bought before going on the number 23 bus was adequate, but the driver ignored this. We still saw some really wonderful forest scenery - even a wild bovine of a type similar to what I saw in the Night Safari in Singapore a week beforehand just by the very narrow road. By the time we reached the ferry back home, I was really, really tired and did not even feel like eating much.
Nonetheless, I rate this Wednesday as one of the best days I have had on any holiday. The contrast between the uninhabited mountain scenery and some of the densest populations in the world is nothing like anything I have ever seen, and even though the presence of plants like casuarinas obviously imported from Australia shows the land is not pristine its colours were still wonderful. Moreover, the cooler weather meant I was less tired than I have been walking around in Singapore’s horrible climate.