Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Batman

I went up to the travellers hostel in the evening to see if any old faces were still around and found ‘George’ still living there. George is a  long term tenant of Chung King Mansions who gets very cagey whenever you ask him about his past.  He told me that John the Book had died in March of this year.

John the book was one of the characters I most remembered of my time in Hong Kong. He survived by selling old magazines or hiring neat clothes to travellers wanting to look nice for interviews. He was nocturnal.

But it was Alan who I met that evening that had the most strange tale to tell.

Alan is on remand at the moment. He is on remand because he was stopped by the police on a routine check, they found a knife and a knuckle duster in his pocket and decided, on this basis, to search his room at the hostel. What they found amazed them.

The police found a whole armoury including home made smoke bombs and a batman like outfit.

Alan had taken a disliking to the triads after splitting with his Chinese wife, so he decided to become a vigilante, getting rid of the scum off of the streets. He is handy with his martial arts so he would dress up in a mask and cape and then pounce on people that were up to no good. One trick he told me was to chuck ball bearings down an alleyway to confuse his prey.

Not being a witness to this I am not sure how comedic this effort would have been and indeed in the beginning I thought he was telling porkies so I doubted the validity of his story. But Alan showed me photocopies of the police report. He also has a video of them searching his room and pictures that the police took of every itemised weapon.

It might just be all true.

Apparently the police quite like him but they have to do their job and prosecute him.

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Hong Kong Fuey

The youth hostel at Mount Davis is basic but friendly, but it’s the view that you get which is priceless. I sat until late just enjoying the vista then turned in to crinkly myself to sleep on a thin plastic coated sponge mattress.

In the morning I took a bus to central and joined the throngs breakfasting in McDonalds. Afterwards I took the picture above which is why the sun is so low in the sky.

I then went to visit the place I stayed in upon arrival the first time around. I passed a woman in a lift that spouted ‘you loom, you loom’ at me as if I were deaf and in need of something to do with weaving. I kind of knew she meant room but what association she had with the said looms I couldn’t tell, so she looked dismissive and muttered her way into the lift and was off. That was the owner who speaks little to no English. The hostel itself looked deserted missing even basic furniture. At one time there was a bed near the door where a large black man slept and guarded the door at the same time, no mean feat, but now it seemed full of ghosts.

The travellers hostel was a funny old place where quite a few long termers in Hong Kong stayed as it was one of the few affordable bits of real estate to be found. There were a lot of English teachers and girls working as hostesses that entertained old Chinese men for a fee. I became very close to one of these girls, Jackie, who was the light and soul of the place. We would meet after her shifts and zip around the bars of Hong Kong from one happy hour to the next. One of these bars would pay men to dance on the bar top with no t-shirt on Wednesdays as it was ladies night, we would lean down and take another beer whenever we wished. We had no shame.

A few of the other full time resident of the travellers hostel were elderly Europeans that were not going home for love nor money. One of them, John the book, would rent out books, magazines and clothes, the clothes were for your first interviews that you don’t have anything in your rucksack for.The place was always busy, people gathered in the foyer swapping tips for jobs and the times of the happy hours for the bars around town, it was a lot of fun and felt like home. Now it looked devoid of life and a tad spooky as you can see from the picture below.

And another picture, where is everyone?

I was going to stay in the travellers hostel for old times sake but I decided that it felt a little morbid. I therefore headed over to the YMCA.

Now the Y in Hong Kong seems to be very unchristian. They charge 100 HK$ for Internet access alone so I am making sure I get my moneys worth.  I was also looking forward to a swim but the swimming pool is closed, I guess I’ll have to wait for my swim in Sydney’s harbour side swimming pool that I have been told so much about.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Hong Kong is my favourite place in the world. Nowehere else do you get that blend of the exotic yet with subtle reminders of home, like the fact that the little bins are the same as the litter bins in London, people speak English, the street names are in English and Chinese and have very British names like Nathan Road, The Peak etc. So it feels homey yet it’s as far away from Streatham as you can get.

I arrived in the morning when we were dumped at a bus stop in Shenzen, I thought we were being dropped off at a ferry terminal, but instead we caught a bus to the train station and hopped on a train. What surprised me was the fact that to all intents and purposes Hong Kong is still a separate country. It has it’s ownbcurrency still with many coins having good old Lizzy on the back of them. I thought they would have at least changed to the Chinese Yuan.

So we busied our way through customs and I arrived in Tsim Sha Tsui in good shape, reunited with my lovely Hong Kong.

I had to do that very Hong Kong things as soon as I arrived which is to go into McDonalds, it’s one of the few places to go where it is not a fortune for a meal and all travellers bump into each other in McStodge.

I then caught a star ferry over the harbour, something I could do over and over again like a dog fetching a stick.

Star Ferry
Star Ferry

All of the ferries have lovely names like ‘Solar Star’ ‘Twinkling Star’ etc. There is no ‘Freddy Star’ but that’s probably a good thing now isn’t it.

So I get a number 54 bus from Central and head on up the long walk to the YHA at Mount Davis where the view out of the window is that picture at the beginning of this post. Click on it and you’ll see it close up.

I have planned my time here to make the most use of my few days. I am going to relax today in this mountain idyll, spend tomorrow night in Chung King Mansions on Nathan road where I used to stay over 11 years ago when I first arrived in Hong Kong, then on Tuesday night I will go over to Lantau and visit a few of the places I used to know when I lived there for a year. I might even attempt a swim in the waterfall pools.

I love it here, it’s just everything you could want from a place. It is mostly national parks, it has great footpaths, cycle ways, it is civilised in a very English kind of way and the people are quirky and touchy and the food is to die for. It’s just heaven on earth.

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