Sunday, April 27th, 1997 - Kowloon, Hong Kong

Another warm day in Hong Kong, with a temperature of 24 C and a high humidity rate. We started our day in the traditional manner, and one in which I have become accustomed in Winnipeg, with Dim Sum, joining Avery who was already waiting by the time we arrived. This restaurant was the same one we had visited on our first day here. Dim sum truly is “controlled chaos” here in Hong Kong and is quite invigorating (as well as tasty).

After our meal, Mike and I played a few games of snooker. He plays snooker every week (on smaller tables) and so was giving me a few pointers. It was very fun, though quite expensive.

Today they opened the new bridge connecting Lantau Island with Tsing Yi, created for the new airport opening on Lantau, with a large firework display at 8 pm. Avery offered to take us to see the fireworks as well as a few other areas. We waited to catch the bus during which time Mike and I figured out how to determine how much the bus ride would cost. All of the buses in the city have fares based upon how far you travel on them and whether or not the bus is air-conditioned. The last variable leads to having to have two different amounts ready before the bus arrives so that you can take whichever bus arrives.

Avery took us to an area known as the “Gold Coast” in the New Territories, which is essentially a very expensive real estate development with a small mall. We were told that the apartments were about $6,000 per square foot and a size of about 1,000 square feet (therefore, about $6,000,000 HK, or $1,200,000 CDN, per apartment). Due to the vast cost, most people take what we would consider a mortgage out for their apartment, there are no such things as leases. Avery mentioned that the apartments at the Gold Coast are mostly for foreigners.

Avery and I at Gold Coast

We walked by a nice hotel which had a few tennis courts, a small putting range and a basketball court. We then made our way to a nice beach which had only one or two swimmers, most were laying in the sand suntanning. We walked for a few minutes on the beach, in the process of which I soaked my shoes in the surf looking for shells to return with me for my sister. Avery laughed at me picking up shells, must be so common for her to have them.

After walking around for some time, we returned to where we got off of the bus, at the mall. Avery wanted to have something to eat so, on her suggestion, we ate at the McDonald's located there.

After this we crossed the street to catch a “crazy bus” back to Sham Tseng which we passed on the way to the Gold Coast. A “crazy bus” is the term that Raymond uses to describe the privately owned and operated small buses seating about 20 people that operate throughout the city. These buses are licensed by the city for specific routes and stop anywhere along the route, hailed just like a cab. There is some government regulation but the prices vary between different buses, basically, you pay what they say. These buses are notorious for travelling very fast through the streets, and because they are small they are much more exciting than the city buses.

Sham Tseng is a small area of, again, apartment complexes and a small mall with a number of small shops. We chose this area because it had a good view of the bridge where the fireworks were to be held. By this point we had seen a strong police presence to handle the pedestrians for the evening.

We walked for a way along a small beach were the photographers and crowds were already assembling (it was about 4:30 in the afternoon).

We went to the local 7-11 to pick up a paper and some playing cards to help pass the fairly significant amount of time there was until the fireworks started.

We then had supper at a local restaurant which was not too bad, though over- priced. As with most restaurants in Hong Kong, this one had live lobster, fish and shrimp in various tanks in the restaurant itself.

After supper, Mike and I grabbed a Slurpee (frozen drink) from 7-11, this is an on-going joke with us in Hong Kong, we have had a fair number since we arrived as it is a good drink that takes a long time to drink and is nice and cold. We were not the only ones in the 7-11, it was very busy and there was even a photographer taking pictures of the crowd inside. 7-11s are very small here and contain some very interesting quick meals, including chicken legs.

After this, we walked along one side of the road which was set aside for pedestrians (the other lane for emergency and police vehicles only) to a good spot to sit and watch, which we did for the next hour and a half. Many people arrived to see the show, I heard later on the news that about 100,000 people were there to see the show.

Fireworks Display (courtesy Mike)

The Chinese really know fireworks and this show, at 20 minutes, certainly proved this right. They were simply spectacular. Prior to the show, they had closed all harbour traffic below the bridge for quite a number of hours, due to a few barges they had set up for the fireworks. The show included a cascade of fireworks stretching nearly the whole length of the bridge (quite a feat considering this is the world's longest suspension bridge), lasers and a very impressive array of specialized and highly decorative explosions. Mike took a few pictures that we hope will turn out. It was very beautiful (we all laughed as the whole crowd, much like anywhere, “ooh”d and “ahhh”d for the whole length of the show.

After the show, we were guided to a line that was split up into large pieces (to prevent stampeding I was told), then guided to take buses to the closest MTR station which was about 10 minutes away. There were a lot of people but the organization was just wonderful, about 30 minutes after the show ended we were on the MTR heading for the apartment. We got off the MTR at a station we had never been to before (as we never approached the apartment from the north like this before) and Avery guided us back. 100,000 people attended the display but 300,000 were anticipated.

As per normal, we spent a bit of time in the local computer arcade, this time as Raymond was busy studying for a test that he is taking tomorrow night. He is working on his Master's in Computer Science so he is very busy, in addition to working full time. This particular test is not that easy.

⇒ Continue to Monday, April 28th, 1997 - Kowloon, Hong Kong