China 1985

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

China 1985

On our second day in Hong Kong, the boys all decided that they would like to go shopping in a minibus hired by one of the school’s Hong Kong parents.  Personally, I was not interested in shopping, so decided to explore the New Territories by public transport instead.  It was a great experience which cost about $Aust4.50 for the day.

Before starting on that expedition, however, I had to accompany one of the students who had left his hand luggage on the plane in the recovery operation.  First stop was the Qantas office in downtown Hong Kong, which directed us to an unmarked, dingy little room at Kai Tak Airport.  The trek was not in vain.  Not only did he recover the baggage, but in traveling exclusively by normal public transport, we saw many interesting sights.  We began with a trip across the Harbour on the Star Ferry, and then caught a No.5 bus (front seats, upstairs, for excellent photography).  We then returned to Nathan Road, where the student wanted to do some shopping, and walked along Jordan Road, past old derelict housing, new soaring blocks of units, streets stalls selling live birds to eat, etc, to the bus terminus where my public transport travels were to begin.

The New Territories trek thus began somewhat late at 11:30am – fortunately it did not require a full day.  I caught a bus which went through some old sections of Kowloon and Mong Kok around the south-western coast of the New Territories, past the wharf areas, through Tsuen Wan (the terminus of the underground railway) to Tuen Mun.  Tuen Mun is one of the so-called New Towns in Hong Kong which consist entirely of new high rise housing blocks, each town designed to house over half a million people.

I alighted at Tuen Mun to have a look around, and visited a Buddhist school and monastery, called Hui Fat.  It consists of a big garish building decorated with two huge twisting dragons on the 33 metres high front wall. saw some monks and school students, together with some very strange statues of multi-tusked elephants in the grounds.

I then caught a bus to Yuen Long, another new town in the north-west of the New Territories.  Catching buses is an interesting art in Hong Kong which, unfortunately, the students had few opportunities to master.  Each bus route has a flat fare whether you travel one stop or the entire distance.  Obviously, longer distance routes carry a higher fare.  To travel from Tuen Mun to Yuen Long, I could have either caught a bus which had started its journey right back at Jordan Road wharf (for $HK4.00, the fare I had paid to get to Tuen Mun) or a bus which only started its journey in Tuen Mun (for $HK1.20).  The trick, then, is to know where your bus began its journey as well as its destination!  The system works well, though, as it means people seldom stop longer distance buses for short journeys, effectively making them almost express buses.

After a light lunch at Yuen Long (a can of bitter lemon for the quinine), I caught another bus to the Kam Tin walled villages.  These are a series of centuries old villages, surrounded by moats, with inbreeding so well established that all the residents have the same surname – Tang.  Most tourists go to the village of Kat Hing Wai, which is right next to the main road. However, I made my way instead to Shui Tau, about kilometre to the north.  It was beautifully quiet and serene, and consisted of some new buildings in addition to the old 17th century grey brick structures with curved ceramic roofs decorated with gold painted fish and dragons.

After another bus trip back to Yuen Long, I changed buses to travel to Lok Ma Chau, a police station with a lookout over the Chinese border.  The lookout, which is about 1.5 kilometres from the road and on top of small hill, is only a few hundred metres from the barbed-wire lined Chinese border, and provides excellent views of the rice fields, fish ponds, villages and Shenzhen city which lie across the frontier; it all looked particularly pretty bathed in the late afternoon sunlight.

By now, it was approaching sunset, so l walked back to the road, caught another bus to Sheung Shui (another new town), where I transferred to yet another bus for the journey back to Kowloon through the intensive vegetable gardens of the New Territories and the new towns of Fanling and Shatin.

That of night, our last in Hong Kong, we attended a dinner hosted by two of the school’s Hong Kong based parents at the Jockey Club.

Day 3

Hong Kong

Thursday, 5 December 1985