Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hong Kong, the final adventure.

All neon like

In another 4 days I'm going home. It is about 9am and I've just getting into Shenzhen off a terrible over night bus trip, even though all over night bus rides are. I'm dropped off at a random bus stop on a highway and told to get on a the number seven. I do, but I don't have a clue where to get off. With my keen travellers eye I eventually see a sign out on the side of the road for a subway station, bingo! I jump off and go to my hostel I'm staying at for the night, a lovely new place out in the suburbs somewhere.

The sad Orangutan at the zoo, so lonely

Shenzhen is right on the border to Hong Kong, and is a special economic zone set up purposefully on the border of China to stimulate economic growth. One of the major benefits of this is it is a great place for shopping. Being on the border of Hong Kong means it is very accessible, and being in China proper means things are awesomely cheap. Having only to travel another 50 odd kilometres with a backpack to the Hong Kong airport meant I was willing to fill that backpack to the brim with the latest fashions. I spent the day exploring dodgy shopping malls, getting some of the best deals in the world. Floors of fakes for basically any price you can be confident enough in asking for. Using the 'take my price or I'll walk out the door' method I achieved some pretty descent deals.

Merry Christmas everyone

In the morning I headed across the border to Hong Kong. It was bizarre how different the place is, only being 30 odd km from Shenzhen. Instantly you notice the large mix of cultures, the english speaking people, and the much higher prices. I picked one of the cheapest places in town to stay at, the travellers friendship hostel. It was very different to Chinese hostels, there were basically only a few tiny rooms in some large cheap apartment block. Not really a great place to hang out, it made up for it by being right down on tip of the Kowloon Peninsula so is super convenient to everything.

All the new gears in the smallest hostel room ever

View out of the hostel window, spectacular....

I had three nights to kill before the big departure home. In this time I did lots, but some of the highlights were....

Gold fish for sale!

Probably the first thing everyone does in Hong Kong is go and view the city from the top of Victoria Hill. I went with a young German man from the hostel, and being both on the cheap we skipped the logical option of taking the cable car up and instead walked. This was a pretty good option as meant we would go past the Hong Kong Zoo, and go through a bit of back door nature before getting to the top. Once up there we went for a walk on the circular route around the top of the hill, giving one of the most magnificent city views available. The high rises of Hong Kong are incredible, all 6,439 of them, and viewing them from up here was spectacular, the only issue being the grey haze over the city, but I'm sure one day they'll sort that out.

View from Victoria Peak, really sweet, although a little grey

Where all the jerks shop

The next awesome activity was seeing the same cityscape from back across the harbour at 8pm every night for the big light show that goes on. This is kinda over the top, but I enjoyed it enough to come back three times to see it. After showing some people back in New Zealand a video of the light show, they suggested that it was an incredible waste of energy. This is probably true, and seeing Hong Kong is mainly powered by gas and coal and a little wind power reducing this spectacular event would probably be a step in reducing the grey shroud covering the 6,439 high rises.

Best view in the city at 8pm every night

There were a few other important things I needed to do before going home, firstly I had to fill the remainder of my bag with souvenirs and then had to get rid of the remaining hong kong money I had on me. Along with my German friend while he was still in town, soon to be screwed over by the protests at the Bangkok International Airport, we went to the night market in Kowloon for a feed and some shopping. This was a great way to spend my last night in town, and was topped off by drinking a beer in the streets which must have been illegal but the German didn't know any better. Plus it was much cheaper than the bar the night before, even with a free beer from a man claiming that the hottest women on the planet are from Colombia.

The tram ride out to the 'burbs

Now my last day away, tomorrow I will be back in New Zealand. Having travelled over a quarter of the way around the world over land and going through three huge nations that have only become accessible to westerners in the last two decades, and not to forget the handful of smaller European countries. But today I just wanted to get it over and done with. Unfortunately my flight wasn't until 10pm so spent the day riding the tram over on Hong Kong Island on a mission to get to a beach, in the hope to possibly go for a swim. Feeling like I was on The Amazing Race, I took the tram right to the end of the line then ran as far as I could to get to the ocean. Unfortunately I was still a while from where I had planned on going, but did make it to the sea. And that there was the last adventure I was to have. From there I turned around and headed back to the hostel to collect my bags and go to the airport, wait around for my flight, then go home.

One of the star ferries make a voyage before sun set

The joy of Hong Kong airport is that you get to go over the world longest bridge on the way there

Soon enough I was back in New Zealand, unfortunately without my bag which got lost in Australia, but luckily it did eventually make it and I was safe at home and all adventure over.

Ah... home time!

Complete Trip Costs:
China/Hong Kong for a month, including transport, accomodation, food, expenses etc: NZ$1747
Total trip cost for 3 months of outrageous adventure: NZ$9677

Post Trip Analysis:
After travelling round the world for three months to some pretty exotic locations. I feel it necessary to express my view on the world and on travelling. In doing this adventure I found a purpose for life, having the goal of getting somewhere in which the journey would be a massive challenge meant I felt truly alive nearly every day. There were times when I'd have liked to been able to give up, but pressing through to achieve my goals made it very fulfilling. This is why I'd recommend to anyone with the choice of either selling out and buying a house and setting up a mundane life or to go on a wild adventure to definitely choose the later. And I guarantee you won't regret being able to reflect on that decision later in life.

The form of tourism I participated in was not your typical two week holiday to a tropical island, but was a real get down and dirty with very different cultures for a lengthy period. This was way more intellectually fulfilling, as gave myself a much broader view on the world and a deeper understanding of how others live. These are important things one must do to prevent ignorance and give you a good basis to stand on to make some claims such as that which follows in my world views.

There was a very different respect to how the normal person lives in Russia, Mongolia, China between each country and compared to New Zealand. There were aspects I thought fantastic, and others I feel need to change, and fast. Being concerned for the environment, (even though I did fly around the world), saw some major projects that need to be demolished as soon as possible. Large chimneys spilling out pollution throughout Russia and China can not continue. But this all comes at a cost to the people who are far poorer than we are in New Zealand, especially out in the countryside. Solutions must be thought up of soon to save the world from itself and without screwing over the poor. I think we can learn the most from Mongolia on this aspect, the nomads have chosen a simple way of life which doesn't require all the best homes, the fastest cars or whatever. They seem quite happy all living in the same styled Ger and getting around on their horses. Why can't we choose a more simple life in return for a better one?

Since coming back to New Zealand I've taken my thoughts to an action level, I now cycle every day to work, (in an office job I knew I'd have to return to). And am reducing my spending on unnecessary consumer products to hopefully use my money to do something more fulfilling in the future than watch tv every day.

I see the future to be very positive, with numerous opportunites to make the world a great place. Yet at the same time I don't stop living within this world because I'm waiting for it to get better. No I make sure I use all the great gifts nature has for us as much as possible. I think that getting out into the world makes you realise that protecting it is useless unless you are conserving so you can use it. So get out into life! I hope you enjoyed all my blogs, and wish that you'd read the entire lot. If you like it then make a comment or give me a job to be a travel writer....


Unknown said...

I like your blog Rdoc...even if you posts are 3 months old. If I could I'd give you a job as a writer....

Poms said...

So optimistic.

I say we write a collaborative travel book about the Great American Road Trip. Or maybe just a character study of Johnny Hall.

Some issues: the simple life is very grand and wonderful in theory but has some huge issues attached to it, that you seem to have covered in your blog quite extensively without giving much consideration. If you get sick you die, this might be ok from the "natural maybe we should just die" but infectious diseases (clean water, etc) and congenital diseases pose quite a different question. Also your diet tends to be pretty restrictive. And you don't get to travel! The simple life really doesn't allow for tourism, it involves constantly trying to provide food for yourself to survive. Leisure takes a sideline to bids for survival. Great art and great science is usually produced from societies that have moved away from the simple life. I'd like to see us incorporating the benefits of the city life with the simplicity of the simple life, but I think its a bit of an idealistic dream.

But I really liked your blog. Gave a nice summary, sometimes a bit long winded, but nicely captured your journey and seemed to also grab at some deeper meaning through everything.