City Lights II
01.10.2011 - 08.10.2011 29 °C
On our way to Australia, we had two last stop overs, Hong Kong and Singapore. Even if we stayed only four days in each we got a first impression. Well, for Myri a third impression of Hong Kong, as she'd been there twice before.
Hong Kong is crammed with buildings, über modern (there is free wifi in some city buses...) and very commercial. In all the streets neon signs flash at you like in New Yorks Times Square and the malls are endless labyrinths. One of the most amazing things is that you dont really have to go out on the streets, to get from one place to another. All public buildings are connected through covered - and often even closed and climatized - walkways on the second or third floor. It feels like you can walk from one end of the center to the other without ever seeing the sky...
We indulged in a few (free) nights at the Marriott Harbourview. The city centre is so overcrowded, that hostel prices are insane. The nicer places start at about 60€ per night and room, where "room" means 6sqm walk in cabinet without windows...
So we spend a few more of our precious Marriott points and got good value for it: A nice room on the 32nd floor, directly over the Exibition Center in the harbour. The views where spectacular.
On the first evening they celebrated our visit with a huge firework over the water, which we enjoyed with our complimentary Champagne and tapas... (well, maybe the firework also celebrated the Chinese National Holiday...)
We didn't do too much in the city, just walked around in the center. On one evening we went out with some local friends of the Velasco sisters. The Hong Kong speciality "Spicey Crab" was delicious.
In Singapore we did even less than in Hong Kong: Some sport (having inscribed for the Melbourne City2Sea 14km run we stepped up our training programme) and a little sightseeing. The four days passed like one...
One really amazing impression that we had in Singapore was that of its internationality. China Town, Little India, lots of immigrants from all over Asia.
So, there ended our five month in Asia. A truly amazing time, with lots of culture and history. But most of all with lots and lots of really nice people. Never before in our lives have we been met with so much genuine friendliness. Sure, there where also a lot of people trying to get money out of us, but that seems only natural in countries where so many (relatively) rich tourists come to get milked for their dollars... But apart from these "specialists" in the tourist centres everybody just welcomed us with open arms and went beyond themseves to make our stay in their country a beautiful experience. From the girl selling freshly squeezed fruit juices to the old lady grinning at us from her streetside shop, from the tea house owner in Kathmandu to tea picker in Sri Lanka: Smiles smiles smiles and a warm welcome greeted us everywhere.
It would be a great change if we could welcome strangers in our countries with a quarter of this friendliness.
Australia and South America will have a hard time to compete with the experience we made here!