So we waited in front of the rope for a minute. Then another minute. Then thirteen more minutes. They parted the sea of plebs a couple of times to let a fire engine and an ambulance through, but other than that, there was no sign our friends would be allowed through. Regular announcements were made by a man on a little tower with a loudspeaker, but as we had no Cantonese speaker in our group, we were very confused. Eventually, they started putting proper metal barriers up against the rope and we decided to ask what was happening. Apparently, they were never going to let anyone else through because there were already too many people at the promenade. You couldn’t have told us that sooner Mr. Police Man? The three unlucky sods behind the rope gestured at us to go ahead anyway. We cried for the fallen and soldiered onwards.
We got about 30 seconds closer to the promenade and found a spot with what we thought was a decent view. But the density of people was really low! Why’s that, we wondered. When the fireworks started it was clear; the fireworks were a lot lower and more left than we expected, meaning that over half of the display was obscured by the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to our left, and the Clock Tower immediately in front of us. Oh well, it made for some scenic photos!
My favourite thing about the fireworks was hearing them echo off the tall buildings behind us. There’s a noticeable delay between the sound of the initial bang and then the series of echoes as it bounces off buildings of all shapes and sizes in many locations around us. The finale seemed like the firework technicians wanted to test how many fireworks their system could launch in the space of 30 seconds – turns out they can launch quite a lot. The show was supposed to be synchronised to music but we couldn’t really hear the speakers from where we were standing. It sounded like pretty generic orchestra music anyway.
What happened after the fireworks was… interesting. You see, after the fireworks are over, there’s basically no reason to stay around, so everyone goes home. To get home, they need to take the MTR. So literally millions of people are all headed towards the same place as us – Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. We danced our way through the crowds as best we could to get there as soon as possible, and outside the station entrance, we had to queue for around 30 minutes as they were only letting people through in batches. Once we got in, though, the onward journey was surprisingly pleasant. The other guys left half-way through the display because they couldn’t really see much of the display. At least they didn’t have to wade through a sea of Hongkongers to get home.
On Sunday I met up with Daniel again, who treated me to a Japanese buffet for lunch. It was one of these places where you write down what you want on a piece of paper and then they bring it over to you. They also had a grill inside the table, for which you could order slices of raw meat. It was a pretty good meal! They also had little tubs of Häagen-Dazs which you could take for dessert. Very nice.
Next, we went to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum – Daniel is a ship guy. It was a decently well maintained and presented museum if you’re into that sort of thing. Lots of posters teaching you about the history of China and Hong Kong’s boat voyages and stuff. My favourite part was an exhibit where you could smell the spices that they used to trade. Call me uncultured swine (as Daniel will be quick to do) but I guess it wasn’t my thing. Display models of boats and maps and stuff, plus some words on posters. Eh.
Next stop, another museum! This time the Dr Sun Yat-sen museum in Central. He was a rich doctor guy who was also like a revolutionary and was involved in the founding of the Chinese Republic. Fun fact; the museum is in a historic mansion that used to be owned by the Mormons, who used it as a church. When they didn’t need it anymore they were going to demolish it and sell the land, but the HK government convinced them to just sell the property intact. Maybe it’s my lack of interest in the history of China, or my general immaturity and short attention span, but I found the museum super boring. Daniel wasn’t a huge fan either, and we left quite quickly. There was a cool exhibit about old Chinese political cartoons, though. I liked that one.
Finally, we headed to the last stop of the weekend: Temple Street Night Market, near Jordan and Yau Ma Tei. It’s the busiest flea market in HK at night, and you can find a lot of street food there. The stalls were basically the same kind of thing as every other market, so we just decided to grab some dinner from a street-food restaurant in a part of the street with the least gross smells. Daniel ordered these weird Chinese dishes of fermented egg, vegetables swimming in goop, and super spicy pork with nuts. I don’t know why people like this stuff. I had a cold Nanjing beer though so it was all good.
After dinner we walked up and down the street again, but this time on the pavement to see the shops rather than the stalls. It was here that we noticed a large number of brothers, makeshift porn theatres, and prostitutes all wearing the same black dress. In a blow to my confidence, the prostitutes only propositioned Daniel. Can I really call myself a man anymore? I thought it was because I’m white, but I was told it’s actually because I was scruffy-looking. Only the finest-dressed gentlemen in town can lay with such an exquisite m’lady. But seriously, I guess they charge quite a lot and only bother going after people who dress like they can afford it.
After we left, I said goodbye to Daniel who was off to the airport for a midnight flight home. I just went back to my room and ate fudge in my underwear while watching the newest South Park episode. What a thrilling life I lead.
Hope you enjoyed hearing a dull retelling of how I spent my weekend. I swear it’s not normally that busy, I usually just stay on campus most of the time. Anyway, I thought it got up to some interesting stuff so I would write about it here. More insightful posts coming soon I promise.
Smell ya later,
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