Winter holidays 3 – Hong Kong (Part 1)

The first full day in Hong Kong I had breakfast – which was a case of going to bakery nearby – and then set out to explore. I’d decided on what I wanted to see. I thought I’d go up the side of the big hill that surrounds the city, on the funicular tram. I arrived about 9am, and there was not a huge queue. I was able to get on it and go pretty soon after. There were others in the carriage but I wouldn’t say it was full. Anyway it was cloudy at the top and so views, whilst fine, where not spectacular. But I did that, and then returned down, at which point I was pleased I’d gone up when I did as there was a massive queue now waiting to board.

I went to the park, next door, which has a huge cage in the middle of it. This has many exotic birds in it, but it reminded me of a scene from Jurassic Park 3, when they come across the pterodactyl enclosure. Still, inside there were many coloured birds flying around and eating.

I walked through the park, and into the botanical gardens, which had a few animals there, including three less-than-happy-looking orangutans.

After lunch, I went to the Central area. They have an escaltor part way up the hill in the Mid-Levels area. Through the shopping area, you can see all the back streets and narrow little alleys. I went to the Dr Sun Yat-Sen museum, who was founding father and first president of the Republic of China. This was moderately interesting, though I don’t know a lot about the period in question.

Following this, and coming back down Mid-Levels to the main street, I headed to the Central Library, an impressive seven-storey building, before getting food and returning to my accommodation.


You may think me good or bad, smart or stupid, but whilst I was away, I checked my email a couple of times. And I don’t mean my personal one; I mean my work one. One of my colleagues left at the end of last semester and, well I wanted to see if there was any news from that. I very much doubted it since the school had been effectively shut for the holidays and in China we aren’t usually the first ones to know things…. but you never know.

When I arrived in Hong Kong, my phone had about 20% left of battery. On the train from the airport to the centre of the city, there was free wifi. Great, I thought, so I had a quick check of my email. And there was one, only one, from a student. Now, I should say, this student is a Senior student, I taught her last year, she was born in Texas and wants to study in the US. She is a good student, hard working and curious about the world, which is unusual for students here (most are hard working but don’t often take much interest in the wider world).

Anyway, she asked me for a reference for a summer programme she was applying for. I replied and said I’d be happy to give her one, but I was on holiday and wouldn’t be back in Beijing for a few days. She replied very quickly – which itself is rare for her – and said it needed to be done by the next day. But, she said, it’s okay because I can use a previous reference I’d written for her and just tweak it.

I would have done this except that the reference was sat on my laptop, in my room in Beijing and I didn’t have it on my phone. With my battery now at about 18%, and I had not yet even arrived in the centre of Hong Kong, let alone at my guest house, I replied and just said I’d see what I could do…..

When I eventually found my guest house, checked in, and was taken to my room, I realised that the plugs in Hong Kong are the same as British plugs. I had a Chinese plug socket to charge my phone, which was now at about 15%. I also did not know if the applications page, which the student had sent me a link to, would open on my phone. It did and I cobbled something together and sent it off. I hate typing long things on my phone as the text gets scrambled sometimes with predictive text as the letter ‘I’ will sometimes join onto the previous word, and sometimes won’t. So I had to check and double check it. But I sent it off, with about 12% left battery. She was, of course, very appreciative of it, and said that next time she’d give me more notice.

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