Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Wan, two and free

Well it's 6am here in Hong Kong - midnight, South Africa time (at the time I began writing this) and I am officially nowhere near dealing with this goddam jetlag. The closest we've come so far was the first night we spent here where we made it up at 1pm. The other two "mornings" have been 2pm. It's tricky as Mike has to be up and at them on Wednesday when he starts his new job, and I am going to have to start keeping Hong Kong office hours to begin getting my life in order: work permits and all that malarkey. And I'd like most of my day to actually be in the light hours.

It's been an action-packed few days. We sedated ourselves into oblivion for the flights over here, remaining awake for meals (like anything is chemically strong enough to separate me from food) and the landings on our Emirates flights from Joburg to Hong Kong via Dubai. Annoyingly, out stopover was so short I didn't have time for a smoke and we were rushed around by some dwarven airport official who insisted we board our Dubai-HK flight immediately, which, again, thanks to sedatives was spent drooling while snoring, rather than the usual panicky, white-knuckled terror which regularly accompanies my every air journey (irony in a travel writer being scared of flying noted).

The first thing one notices about Hong Kong is that it is humid as all bloody hell. It makes Durban seem like a Johannesburg winter. We're currently heading into winter here - we're kind of just in the northern hemisphere - and there is so much moisture in the air combined with a 28-30 degree temperature. I can hardly put the beer in as fast as I sweat it out. And we've exercised, walked and explored so much that by god, there is barely any moisture left in me.

We are currently in the smallest apartment in which I have ever stayed. It's a studio, so it has two rooms. A bathroom, and a kitchen-bedroom-lounge-entrance hall. The front door virtually opens into the bed and is next to the kitchenette. Should you trip over the bed on your way in, never fear, the couch is between it and the wall on the other side. Our luggage takes up more floor space than there is available, but it's actually quite awesome and is being filed under "experience".

Hong Kong's main island has a similar make-up to Cape Town in that it has a mountain and the city is squeezed in between the peak and the sea. The major difference obviously being the fact that seven of the world's tallest buildings (amongst hundreds of others) have to fit in here for the incredible mass of people. The mountain is called Victoria Peak and highlights one of the quirky features of Hong Kong - the leftover British colonial names which sometimes permeate places. The area we are currently staying in is called Sheung Wan, but our road is called Hollywood Road. The roads running parallel to ours are Robinson, Caine and Queen's Road Central, yet the cross roads are Tai Ping Shah, Shing Wong and... erm, Chancery Lane.

Interestingly, the steep slope on which the CBD and suburbia on the main island are built is counteracted with a long-ass escalator which stretches virtually from the harbour to about two-thirds of the way up to as high as residential properties (read: 60-storey super luxurious buildings) are built. Loads of people call it the Mile Long Escalator but I doubt it stretches quite that far. Victoria Peak is about 550m above sea level and we climb it as exercise (twice in three days). Well, Mike runs up it (and halfway back down, then back up to the top) while I walk up it, sweating like a donkey praying that the muscles in my leg manage to stay fastened to the bone and each other. It is steep as all shit and gives me a decent work out though - added to a never-ending diet of noodles I should be nice and thin by Christmas. The view from the top is quite incredible but I refuse to put a camera in the pocket of my running shorts, lest it become sweat-logged (really, it is THAT humid. I was wringing the sweat out my shirt two days ago after jogging (ok it was a fast walk (ok it was a moderate stroll))).

So the beginnings of our lives are starting to fall into place. We know where the grocery shop is, shopping districts are, where the cheap bars are not (we're yet to find a good affordable one), where to exercise and all that jazz. We've also realised we want to live in Sheung Wan which is on the main HK island and kind of has a foot in old China and a foot in the modern-day first world. It's clean and safe and hosts a whole lot of trendy crap, but has a whole range of markets, really old people and dodgy (cheap) restaurants as well.

Oh, and the subject line? When a shop steward tells us something is free, we think it costs three dollars. That's not a joke. It's happened twice now.

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