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Central Warriors | profile | all galleries >> Biographies >> Paul Sisco >> September 17 - Paul's China Journey: Hong Kong - Mountains and Sea tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

September 17 - Paul's China Journey: Hong Kong - Mountains and Sea

Wednesday we saw a lot of Hong Kong's mountains, forests, and sea coast, including some wild cattle. For an area that is packed with 7 million people, it is surprising how much forested land there is. It's because of the high mountains with steep sides. There are a couple of peaks over 3,000 feet tall, and that's starting from sea level here. My college friend Dean did a lot of hiking with his kids when they were growing up. There are foot trails all over the place.

At 6:00 in the morning we went up Victoria's Peak, a high point on Hong Kong (photo 1). We took the bus up and a tram down. It was still so hazy and humid that it was hard to see things. They tell us the haze is caused by a typhoon that is hitting nearby Taiwan. Coming down we saw St. John's Cathedral, a remnant of Hong Kong's British past.

Next was the art museum, free admission on Wednesdays. Benjie tried his hand at calligraphy. No doubt he spelled out "Gweilo", the Cantonese term for white people. In this area of China most people speak Cantonese, which is very different from Mandarin Chinese. Since the writing is picture-writing, however, both Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking people can read written Chinese -- they just pronounce the words differently. Here's a discussion of Gweilo at Wikipedia. I see it's disputed, but Dean says it does mean "white ghost".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gweilo

The art museum was full of school kids. Each school wears a distinctive uniform.

In the afternoon, we took a Gray Line tour of Lantau Island, which used to be fairly isolated and sparsely populated. The new airport and Disneyland have been built on it now, so more people are moving there. We took a new 2-mile cable car ride up to a huge statue of the Buddha. This Buddhist temple has become a real tourist trap. Chinese Buddhism is less ascetic than the Buddhism in India and incorporates native Chinese Taoist gods as well as the Buddha. The idea is that Buddha will make you prosperous if you worship him and bring him gifts (especially cold, hard cash!). Buddha has not been doing a good job with the stock market lately.

We ended up in a fishing village at the south end of the island. Although frequented by tourists, it definitely has an authentic feel to it. Houses are on stilts and the people make their living from fishing. A popular item in the market was fish bladders, which are used to make soup. People ride around on bicycles.

Today we head for Beijing on the train. We'll no longer be in an area where all the signs are in English and where most people speak at least some English. If only the British had conquered more of the world, we'd be in better shape as tourists.
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