But the closer I got to the departure, the more I was looking forward to this. I wanted to feel like a stranger. I wanted to concentrate on myself and experience things I truly never have experienced before. China was everything I anticipated and so much more.
In the next posts, I will go into more detail about the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and the Great Buddha. For now I will share some snaps from both cities.
Let's start with Beijing. The dominating colour here is a fiery red. Houses, flags, doors and lanterns shine brightly in the Summer sun. Also a lot of green and blue. On my very first day I went to Jingshan Park. Once a private imperial garden you can climb the many steps up to the pagoda to get the first glimps of the Forbidden City right at your feet. But you look at the exit! Once you leave the Jingshan Park here, Riksha drivers will try to convince you to take a ride with them. They are willing to take you to the subway station or around the Forbidden City, so you can get to the entrance. The enrance is the red gate from which Mao Zedong looks down on you. If you prefer to walk around the Forbidden City, alongside the walls, it will take about an hour to get there. If you stroll along leisurely that is.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that I wanted to attend a play or an opera while in Beijing. It is hard to get used to the sounds and instruments, but it is fascinating nonetheless.
While waiting to get on the skilift I asked the couple behind me, if they would snap a photo of me and send it via mail. I'm very glad I got that snap.
Things are different in Hong Kong
Just like Beijing, Hong Kong is very hot. However also extremly humid. You leave the plane and run into a wall of humitity. It didn't take long for sweat to run down my spine.
Hong Kong is oh so different. After hardly being spoken to for close to a week in Beijing, not being able to understand anything and being busy to find my way there, I suddenly understood every word that was spoken. I could read all the signs. And actually that got me into trouble on the day of my arrival. I had gone to explore the city centre, when I was so overwhelmed by everything, that I couldn't find my way back to the hotel. I had no idea in what direction to go or what bus to take. I had to sit down in one of the malls with air condition, catch my breath and then concentrate to find my way back.
While the city of Beijing is spread out, Hong Kong is built on various islands. Due to the limit of space, everything is built upwards. Combine that with the humitity and you are drenched in sweat. Or better I was. It took me some time to figure out how women in Hong Kong do it. The city is connected with a net of malls and subway stations. All air conditioned and my safe haven. The ways from point a to point b are very short. You can walk from one end to the next within minutes.
Nowhere is the lack of space in Hong Kong more evident than on the cemetary. There are various ones in the city, in between high rise buildings and right next to the highway. The heat and humitity also takes its toll on the graves. Various tombs have either cracked or sank or both.
A highlight (in the most literal sense) in Hong Kong is visiting the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island. But to get there you have to take a cable car. If you have problems with heights or going over water in a shakey cable car, you might want to brace yourself. But when you reach Lantau Island, you are rewarded with the sight of the biggest sitting Buddha in the world. You are not allowed to eat meat around the Buddha, but you can eat with the monks if you buy a ticket for it.
Taking the tram up a very steep hill of 400m and getting to The Peak should definitly be done during sunset or at night. Then you will be able to see the complete city brightly. Especially when you ignore the tourists and turn into the small Lugard Road, that is a residential street, you will be able to see the most beautiful panorama Hong Kong has to offer.
In the next posts I will share with you more details about China. Come back, please.