1988 CHINA TOUR:

April 6 - HONGKONG and KOWLOON - page 1


It was a good flight on Garuda from Jakarta to Hongkong. Clear skies, beautiful islands, green rings of shallow reefs, reflecting clouds. There was a dirty yellowish smoke cloud near shore, but then it cleared up again and followed the frightening landing on Kai Tak Airport next to a mountain, almost ending up in the sea, just after 6 a.m.
It was already busy and crowded, with long queues for immigration and customs. The people appeared much less friendly than in Indonesia, so I experienced a minor culture shock. Experiencing too many tourists has made the Hongkong-Kowloon Chinese disdainful and superior.
I exchanged my last US$100 traveler check for HK$778.44 - 5% commission and decided to go to a cheaper Hotel than my 1983 Shangri La (where I wrote this journal entry later in the morning over a HK$17 +10% sc glass of grapefruit juice) I took a taxi with a coarse driver to Nathan Road and checked into the old and not very clean King Hotel, with more creature comforts than I had experienced in Indonesia the preceding weeks.
After check in, I walked around just to get overwhelmed by the many signs, sights and smells. Tens of tanks with many different species of tropical fish, tigercrabs, snails, clams, oysters, shrimps, prawns and lobsters to be eaten or collected at your wish. I noted very expensive dried abalone as well as mandrake roots going for HK$70K. Finally, I did yield to the temptations and had a nice plate of shrimp and rice for less than HK$10 ! I noted some beautiful ivory carvings offered for over HK$100K, and doubted these could be imported into the USA nowadays. For kicks, I bought two of the cheapest x-rated bone carvings and then worried whether the "puritan" Mainland would allow them to be imported.
Around 20:00 I was exhausted and went to bed till 23:00 at which time I took another walk around Jordan Road. I had a milkshake and some fattish sweet pancakes. I was astonished at the number of shops, restaurants, hotels at various levels and the numerous skyscapers overpasses, undergrounds, underpasses, travel agencies discount shops and banks. My wife Mercia would go berserk here! I noticed very few beggars, not too many beautiful girls and far fewer children than in Jakarta.

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