August 22, 1999 - Hong Kong, China

Over all a disappointing day.

Yesterday it had begun to rain fairly heavy and today it was far worse with the typhoon actually hitting Hong Kong (with warning level 8, 10 being the highest). Most stores and restaurants were closed as were the museums, art galleries, etc.

We met my friend Raymond this morning to go for Dim Sum for lunch. Before that we basically stayed in the hotel room, relaxing (not much else really to do). Raymond took us to a place just around the corner. It was really good to see him. His wife did not come since she had to look after their young boy who is less than a year old.

He had a lot to say, talking about his new job. He was in London only just earlier this year so I asked him why he did not visit: He did not know I was there. He has been doing a fair amount of travelling with his job since he speaks English very well (he went to University with me in Winnipeg – Canada). He is doing very well though, enjoying his house in Sha Tin. He used to live in Sham Shui Po which is fairly close to us. Sha Tin is about an hour away by train.

We sat and talked for quite some time, discussing a number of things, very interesting.

After lunch we accompanied Raymond to Kowloon Tong station where he transferred to the KCR (railway) to Sha Tin. Essentially the area is a big mall but most stores were closed because of the storm. Looking outside through the big glass walls we could see the trees really blowing around and the rain really coming down. It was just as well to walk around inside.

We were going to watch a movie there but it was not playing what we wanted to see. We did manage to quickly visit a supermarket where we noticed that some products were from a big Canadian supermarket chain (complete with English and French words). I was looking around for a few specific things which they, unfortunately, did not have. It was very much an american-style (and content) supermarket.

We gave up on the mall after peering in a number of windows and seeing that the prices were fairly expensive. We returned back to the MTR station to return to Tsim Sha Tsui. After that we went down to the harbour to look at the large number of big waves, rain and wind. There were a few people down there, sitting under any structure that protected from the rain. It was really odd to see no boats on the harbour and no lights in the buildings on Hong Kong Island. None of the Star Ferries were even docked in the harbour taken, I am sure, to a safer area.

Got a bit wet but returned to the hotel and relaxed for a bit of time, catching up on the news. Today there was even an accident at the airport where a train flipped over on the runway, killing a few people. Evidently they tried to land in the worse part of the storm, already in trouble before landing. The airport is, of course, closed. It has been a really interesting visit so far: Hottest day on record yesterday (35.1 C), extremely high smog conditions, a typhoon, and an accident at the airport. We are supposed to leave from that airport tomorrow also…

We eventually managed to get up to find something to eat, wandering down to the water again, getting fairly wet in the process. We were really curious as to what was making a lot of crashing on the street outside of our hotel. It looked like it was really just a lot of signs falling over and garbage cans blowing around.

We wandered around a number of blocks where the hotel is and, after a few frustrating minutes, we ended up in the basement of a local café/restaurant. We picked up a few things for take-away. I was a bit frustrated though since mother wanted me to pick somewhere to eat but was not that hungry and wanted to avoid meat if possible. Problem is that most restaurants serve meat dishes without a lot of non-meat dishes (never mind it is a bit difficult to specify exactly what type of meal you want without an English menu or English person – and nothing to point at).

We sat and basically wiled away the evening watching the periodic weather and airport updates on TV (on the two English channels – only 12 hours a day, each of them – NOT much else on TV). Hung our clothes up to dry over night. We did turn off the air conditioning in the room since it was very overwhelmingly cold (even on the lowest setting).

A very disappointing day.

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