Wednesday 18 November 2015

Hong Kong again

So I went back to Hong Kong. This is because it was great last year, because I knew the family would find it fantastic, and because the offer of free accommodation was still available (Thanks Sis!). Not quite your average half term break, but we did a beach holiday already this year and this would be life-enriching for the children in a way that somehow the Costa Calma on Fuerteventura wasn't. I remember when I was about 15 my parents took us to Hong Kong, and it blew my mind. I waited about 25 years before going back last year, whereupon it blew my mind all over again. I knew that I had to make sure my kids had this opportunity too, plus a get-together with the cousins is always fun. 

We left on Friday evening after school. Well, that's to say that the flight took off after school, but Wanstead is sadly lacking an international airport so we sinned and withdrew the children just after lunch to ensure we made it over to Heathrow. And we told the truth and we didn't get fined! Honestly, what a world we live in when parents get fined for going on holiday and offering children far more than a day at school could possibly offer. And being shrewd we also did the maths and it was far cheaper to pay any resulting fine than fly the next day. So, Wanstead Friday afternoon, Hong Kong Saturday lunchtime and watching the rugby in an expat bar Saturday evening! This meant that I avoided jet lag entirely.

We stayed with my sister on Lantau, ten of us in the house and their full life still going on. They do busy a bit like we do busy so it was some way from being calm and quiet, but this is the way of families with young children. So there was school and there was work and all that fun stuff. And there was even Halloween HK Style! But there were also G&Ts and ceiling fans, balconies and nibbles, moments of calm in a sea of activity, and we felt very welcome indeed. Oh, and sorry about your next air-con electricity bill....

I won't bore you with a day by day account like I usually do with trips. That level of dull is reserved for birding trips, and fair enough whilst I did see a few birds here and there and binoculars did come with me, that was way down the priority list for this week. In summary we had a very full week. We wandered happily around outlying islands, we admired the view from the peak. We went browsing in night markets and we went for drinks on roof-top bars. We watched rugby with Kiwis and watched Giant Pandas with a million Chinese people. We ate a lot of Dim Sum and several Peking Ducks. We took trams, buses, tubes, ferries, taxis and even a golf cart. We gawped at the harbour, we visited parks, markets and Buddhas, we strolled around the zoo and we went on roller-coasters. In short we did masses in a very short space of time and thoroughly knackered ourselves, the mark of an excellent holiday. None of this coming back refreshed nonsense, it's a prerequisite that you must return home shattered or you will have wasted precious time. Unless you go to the Caribbean that is, if you come home knackered from there you've been doing it wrong.

Anyhow, the kids were exposed to the mass of humanity that is Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and to the more genteel areas like Lantau and Peng Chau. They went from eating nothing to (within reason, this is Asia after all!) eating almost everything. They started drinking Jasmine tea and recognising Cantonese characters. They appeared not to be phased at all by the enormous change from their normal lives - numero uno now resides in rural Norfolk during term time, so in three seconds in Hong Kong he probably saw more people than he sees in a month! It was fantastic in all respects, a real adventure for the five of us, and something we'll all remember for a very long time. I still remember 1989 and some of the things we did then. We're already talking about the next amazing place we might visit. South America is being mentioned, but that may be the year after next. We'll have to see. I still have a hankering for California, another repeat of a childhood trip that left a lasting impression. The world is a big place.....

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