Day 1 - 26th July 2001
The journey begins

[ Hong Kong index || On to day 2... ]

The very beginning of my journey was quite straightforward. I got to the airport in good time to get the flight. My parents said goodbye to me, and I could see that my mum was a bit tearful. After a quick sandwich to calm those hunger pangs, I boarded the flight to Amsterdam. This quick 40 minute fight leads to my connecting flight to Hong Kong.

The plane which will start my journey
Unfortunately, things didn't run so smoothly once I got to Amsterdam. The connecting flight to Hong Kong was delayed by nearly three hours so I was left sitting in the departure lounge for an hour and a half, then we boarded the plane and were kept waiting for another hour and a half while they worked out what to do with a leaking package they'd found in the hold. Apparently, they'd also noticed a bad smell coming from the plane and had to check whether it was still ok to fly. Hmm.

Once we arrived, and got out of the airport I took the short train ride to join the MTR (the Mass Transit Railway). It was an incredibly posh train, with LCD displays on the back of the headrests and a choice of several channels, and the journey was only 20 minutes! From Central Station I went to Fortress Hill which is the stop nearest my hotel. The first thing that hit me when I walked out of the station was the heat. The whole rest of the journey had been in air-conditioned places, and this was the first time I'd been outside. The humidity was terrible, and it was very hot, about 30C.

Posh skyscrapers sit
uncomfortably next
to delapidated apartments
The view is amazing though. Dilapidated apartment building sit next to posh hotels, and almost every building has at least 20 floors, making the streets seem very narrow and cramped. It looks and feels so completely different to anything I've seen before.

I found the hotel easily (with the help of a map), it was just round the corner from the station. It was very posh, especially considering how cheap it was, and it has a rooftop swimming pool and live music every night at the bar.

After dropping my bags and setting up my Internet connection (of course) I decided to have a wander and find somewhere nice to eat. I strolled down the street and came across an indoor market. Walking inside, I saw them selling live chickens packed into tiny cages, and huge fish were swimming around in polystyrene boxes. A garden hose was poked into each box supplying the fish with oxygen. As I walked past one of the fish leaped out of it's box and lay quivering on the ground. A woman with a net appeared, grabbed the fish and put it back into it's box. I left there pretty sharpish.

It wasn't long before I realised that I'd lost my bearings and couldn't find my way bac to the hotel. I walked around for about ten minutes to try and find it again. Once I'd made sure I knew where the hotel was I went back to a large noodle bar I'd seen, which I chose mainly because the menu had an English translation. I eventually worked out by watching the other punters that I had to make my order with the cashier, where I pay for my meal. She then gives me a ticket which I hand over to the kitchen staff to actually give my my food. After seeing this, I'll never call McDonalds fast food again. I had chicken and noodles Thai style in about 30 seconds, and it was absolutely delicious.

After the meal, I took the MTR to Tsin Sha Tsui and went to the planetarium and space museum, which was good, if a little sparse. There was exhibits about various Chinese-built rockets, which mainly seemed to be following in the footsteps of the Russians and the Americans. The planetarium showing had a few glaring mistakes ("On Earth, the station would weigh 750 tonnes") but was generally quite impressive.

I was incredibly tired after all that so I went back to the hotel and went to sleep.

[ Hong Kong index || On to day 2... ]