04.09.2011 - 10.09.2011
I am a 33 year old guy heading to China for a while to learn Chinese and be with my girlfriend who I met on my last trip here. The last time I came this way was an epic ride - I lived in Malaysia for a couple of years and then decided to cycle up to China in a round about kind of way. You can read more about this adventure on the cycle blog www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/asiaroundabout
My last stop on the trip was Kunming China. There I met a lass and we both promptly fell in love. I will not bore (or excite?) you with the details, but after a couple of months I needed to leave due to dwindling savings and expiring visas. So back to New Zealand it was for a 6 month contract (which has turned into a "need to support from China slightly longer contract!") where I saved up to live for a year or more and get back to my girl. The good news is in the 6 months away from my girl, we have grown to know each other a lot more (well I believe, she might tell you different!) due to the forced distance and language problems making us talk to each other in a different way. Its hard to explain, but 6 months on and we are still strongly a couple and I feel very close to her despite the distance. Although there are a few nervous moments about seeing her again, I am so happy about seeing her I could burst!
The first stop in the trip is Hong Kong, a place I have been to numerous times. This time I am staying in Kowloon though, Chunking mansions at the brilliant Australian guest house. This is asia as I remember it, tiny rooms in mega tropilis'! People everywhere selling, buying, walking, eating... seemingly all at once. The pace is frenetic and coming straight from the west at first its a bit overwhelming. Five minutes later though I am back into the groove of asian life and loving it!
On arrival at the airport however I found a young girl holding a board with my name on it. That usually spells trouble if its a young lady, but is sometimes good if its a young man with a hat (limousine!). This time it was trouble. I had packed my bike into a bike bag to get it back to China. The oversized bag was bumped to a later flight and would arrive tomorrow afternoon. The staff were very good about this, quite apologetic, but actually this worked out well for me. I was planning to leave 2 bags at the airport anyway, taking 1 small one into Hong Kong proper. This saved me the cost of one of the bags - the airline said they would hold onto it for me. Sweet! That saved me about 300HKD in left luggage fees. No problem for me! After that was sorted out, I grabbed a train ticket and headed into Kowloon. Woo hooo, back in China!
Hong Kong isn't really China though. The people are so used to Westerners and so westernfied in some of their attitudes you can't really say its China. Here they have some good local food, but it all seems so bland compared to what I am used to in Kunming. Admittedly Yunnan food is spicey and full of so many varieties of flavours that ANYTHING is bland in comparison! But its an analogy that I feel applies to the differences between Hong Kong and the rest of China. Here you can make yourself understood with english and western gestures, which they are used to. There isn't the rural attitudes that seems to pervade most of China (with the exception of some of the big cities) - probably as a result of the mass migration from rural to city life experienced over the past couple of decades. The development in Hong Kong is decidedly western - there isn't 10,000 people working on a single road that seems to be partially planned and the rest will be figured out en-route. In Hong Kong, the slopes even have to have registration numbers, everyone appears to be pretty honest and the politicians get into office on random campaign offerings such as "Reduce the number of hand rails on walking tracks". China? Territorially only.
After a couple of days getting accustomed to the number of people, I was ready for Kunming! Not only was there a beautiful girl waiting for me there, there was the China I have been missing!