Hongkong is decorated during the Christmas and New Year festival.

Hongkong is decorated during the Christmas and New Year festival.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Solo Backpackers"- Guide to touring costly city's at a "Backpackers budget"..

"World Famous "CHUNGKING MANSION":- The Backpackers paradise in Hongkong.
After my early morning tea at 0530 hrs proceeded on my daily morning walk towards "Victoria Harbour Wharf".Weather was extremely cold and chilly since i was accustomed to the warm and hot climate of Mumbai.Saw the arrival of the star Cruise Ship "Pisces" making its entry into Victoria Ferry terminal as Hong Kong harbour is the base of "Star Cruise Lines" and they have a special berth for them in the harbour called "Star Ferry Pier". As i strolled aimlessly along the wharf i observed a group of locals doing some exercises at a corner of the wharf to the tune of soft instrumental music being coached by an elderly gentleman and lady.The elderly teachers requested me to join the group and soon a few other foreign tourists also joined and hence i was introduced to my first lessons in the art of "Tai-Chi", a Confucian art of self-relaxation akin to yoga."Tai-Chi" totally relaxes the body and mind with dance like movements to the slow rhythm of instrumental recorded music.After an hour of "Tai-Chi" , i thanked my hosts and departed towards the "Avenue of Stars", Asia's first city to have a "plaque" of all important celebrities of the "Hongkong film industry" akin to "Hollywood" in U.S.A. Its a custom in HongKong to have the "Hand Imprints" of famous celebrities implanted on the "Avenue of Stars" promenade and everyone tries to compare their own hands with that of their famous stars and heroes. A statue of Hongkongs most famous film celebrity Bruce Lee is a prime attraction at the "Avenue of Stars" causeway ,akin to Mumbai's "worli sea-face" promenade in length. I can never forget my eviction from "Regal Theatre(Mumbai)" in 1976 or 77 for being a "Minor" when on my insistence i had booked tickets along with my parents to see the film "Enter the Dragon", a raging world-wide hit and considered a classic over the years. In 2005, the Hongkong of Bruce Lee's generation might have changed beyond recognition as most of Hongkongs old buildings and entire localities are being phased out and giving rise to a plush skyscraper city having the largest number of tallest buildings in the world after New York.Most of the shopping malls in HongKong have a "vintage car", usually a "Rolls Royce" parked at its entrance as a "antique display" to shoppers and tourists,blending the old with the modern.Caught the ferry at "Tsim Tsa Tsui Ferry pier" and made my way across the harbour to "Central Pier", the epicenter of some of the World's tallest buildings and costliest "office space", Hongkongs centre of World trade and commerce. Boarded the 15 Nos bus from "Central Bus-stop" and reached the "Peak",HongKongs highest point within the city.The beauty of HongKong is that it has managed to preserve it "Greenery' and forest canopy inspite of a lack of "Human Land-space" with "Vertical skyscrapers" compensating for the horizontal lack of human landspace. Trees and flowering shrubs dot the landscape amidst these skyscraper buildings with the peak offering a breathtaking view of the entire valley below, the site location of numerous Cantonese films.The peak at a height of approximately 373 meters resembles "Matheran" , the hill station near Mumbai(India), total preserved forest greenery amidst one of the the World's most populated bustling city's.I couldn't visit the "Madame Tussauds" museum at the "Peak" as it was closed for renovation but had a stroll along the narrow pathways, akin to trekking on a forest mountain amidst the chirping of birds and the chill morning breeze.The "Peak" was undergoing massive renovation during my visit to the location, hence i just strolled around getting a "birds eye-view" of magnificent "Victoria Harbour" and Kowloon.While descending back to "Central" i caught the "Peak tram", an antique tram operating since 1888 which gives a breathtaking view of HongKong's palatial residential apartments and forest greenery.This 2-Bogie tram is pulled by means of "CABLES" and hence its uniqueness, besides, it accommodates very few commuters and travels a very steep gradient, akin to a roller-coaster ride. Visited the HongKong botanical gardens which has a few aviaries breeding endangered bird species.Strolled around "Hollywood Street", a street famous for selling "antiques" and these shops are plush and well decorated dealing mostly in "Chineese antiques" akin to Mumbai's famous "Chor Bazaar" which deals in old discarded articles and antiques. A tourist should be knowledgeable about the antiques being purchased, since cheating in antiques is the commonest and easiest form of "Con- art" all over the World, especially in Country's having century's of recorded history and artifacts.Entered a typical "Hong kong fish market" , my favourite touring excursions in any country that i visit ,although ,Europe and U.S.A have "Shopping Malls" instead of the "Asian and African Bazaars". HongKong has preserved its orthodox "Asian Bazaar" shopping inspite of rapid urbanization and westernization, something unique in a city having the largest number of skyscrapers after New York, besides the largest "Roll Royce" car ownership in the World.In HongKong, fish products are preserved live in tanks and sold fresh to consumers akin to chickens being sold in Mumbai's markets, hence prawns, fish and turtles are kept in aquariums and slaughtered on purchase, absolutely cruel to a "wild-life practitioner", but a part of Chinese culture.The markets are very clean and well maintained and have their own charm unlike the abnormally spic and span modern departmental store. Being Asian and spending a life-time shopping in India's bazaars, i still find the concept of "Mall shopping" for vegetables, fish and meat products a bit abnormal, a self- confessed orthodox Indian as far as "Bazaar shopping" is concerned.Spent the entire day exploring central Hongkong, feeling like a dwarf in the midst of tall skyscrapers built in exotic geometric designs and manny of them with glass frontals.Walked through the World's largest covered escalators between "Des Voeux Road" in Central to "Conduit Road" in the mid-levels, a distance of approximately 800 meters. HongKong is one of the World's most densely populated city's and the same can be felt in the office localities of Hongkong central and its adjoining areas, but, the population boom seems orderly with the least amount of chaos or traffic jams .Later returned back to my hotel in "Chungking Mansion", "room Nos 123", a tiny room on the 7th floor in "Singh Guest House" . Showered and rested for a while, later in the evening made my way towards the "Tsim Tsha Sui" pier. I love "Solo Travelling" and find it the last refuge of the "Wild Discovery Days" where a human can test his or her "Management" as well as "Survival" skills in a totally artificially mechanized World where even forests are rapidly disappearing let alone its accompanying wild-life. I plan my tour through the "Internet" and later inquiring with local "Travel agency's " in Mumbai,hence, an entire "Backpacking Tour" can be pre-planned months or days in advance as is my normal basic planning. For the " Solo HongKong/Bangkok Backpackers tour" i have to mention a special thanks to my personal house-keeper Sabina .Dias who provided me with the address of "Chungking Mansion" in Hongkong through her "employment agency boss" Mr Richard , a well traveled gentleman. The walk to the "Avenue of the Stars" situated next to "Tsim Tsha Tsui" pier was just a 15 mins walk from my lodge and the center of tourist attraction in HongKong during the night as a spectacular lighting and laser exhibition was held on the Victoria harbour waterfront.The spectacular exhibition and illumination of all the buildings situated in "Hongkong Central" began at 2000 hrs and has to be personally experienced to be enjoyed, some of the World's tallest buildings being beautifully lit up in various colours and laser beams.HongKong is a real shoppers paradise, both in electronics items as well as antiques and jewellery, the only requirement for a tourist being "Money".