The first time we came to HK as a family we were en route to go to Australia as missionaries. We landed in between high-rise buildings. That was scary to say the least! They moved the airport away from the city to a narrow strip near the sea.
We went up a steep mountain by rail. It felt like the train would slip backwards! The view from the top was almost like the view from the Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio.
What we can’t forget is the smells of the city. The pollution and the sweet and sour vapors were choking. But that has changed since. HK is cleaner than when we first came here. But the crowds are still the same. When my jet-lagged family with wanted some pizza at midnight I had to queue for a block to get into the pizza parlor.
A little girl called Murphy attached herself to us and became our tour guide. She kept saying, ‘traveler must suffer!’ She would not allow us to buy food for ourselves but preferred to purchase our take away foods for us and shared it with us. One day she took us to a restaurant and ordered the food. Some of the stuff on the plate looked like eyes staring at you. She would not tell us what she ordered.
We took a ferry across to Kowloon where Aje & Yve played on the beach. The sea was too polluted to swim in.
From the window in the high rise room where we were squashed in you could see squatters living on the roof of other buildings. The room was so small that you could hardly move. The two small beds filled the entire space. Aje & Yve watched Chinese TV because there were no other channels.
There were 11 people living in the same apartment with two bathrooms. The one was in the kitchen. So when the other one was occupied you had to go into the kitchen and close the plastic curtain. Someone was always cooking food on the stove.
Something bizarre happened as I went to take a shower. The pipe from the geyser broke and it spewed out boiling hot water. I shouted for help and Nola suggested that I stick the pipe out of the window. I followed her suggestion but forgot how close the buildings were to each other. I sprayed the water into another apartment opposite us where a woman was doing the dishes. She screamed!
After a while the woman’s husband, a bulky Chinese guy, came to switch the geyser off and fixed the broken pipe. He gesticulated much with his hands and spouted long sentences in Cantonese.
At the entrance to the apartment where we stayed there was an old Chinese guy squatting. It seemed that he was the doorkeeper. But he always exuded vociferations when we came in our out in a loud gruff voice.
HK seemed like a giant shopping centre with shops staying open all night. The city never sleeps.
Since then I have frequented HK several times and held meetings in a Filipino woman’s church where Pastor Zoe presided. Filipino’s work as housekeepers in HK because work is scarce in the Philippines. They sense that they can influence the families in HK by working for them.
On this trip I happened to be here during the World Sevens Rugby tournament. There were people from all nations attending. They tend to dress up for the games to catch attention on TV so you see a great variety of outlandish regalia. The Brits like to dress up as Royal Guards, Fox Hunters and the Scots come with their colored kilts. There are men dressed like babies in the streets with nappies and dummies and some walk around like Olympic swimmers with just their costume, skullcap and swimming goggles. The Irish love their green goblin attire. You see Big Chiefs from America with the full-feathered headgear and Cowboys and Aussie Ockers with floppy hats. Girls are made up as cats or kangaroos and young men proudly wear their full rugby gear with team jerseys and boots. The oriental bamboo hats abound coupled with colorful embroidered satin shirts. Old rugby players are everywhere: you spot them by their bulky size and their cumbersome saunter as a result of injuries.
The streets are so full you can hardly move on the pavements and rugby is on every screen in restaurants and bars. Fiji beat NZ in the final – again!
I saw a half man begging for cash. He only has an upper body and bends over to the ground to beg. There are not so many beggars as in other Asian countries and small kids do not harass you for money.
The streets are clean and tidy in spite of the crowds. Everything gets cleaned up and the streets get sprayed at night. Red Chinese Communistic Flags droop from buildings.
Chinese and British businessmen parade in neat black suits with ties. Some carry the traditional briefcase. They meet in coffee shops and bars to discuss deals.
Backpackers from Europe and Scandinavia travel in groups and buy food from fast food Chinese or Thai shops.
The sky is dark grey and the weather cool because of the regular downpour of rain. It looks like nighttime throughout the day.
You can find any kind of restaurant you look for: English, Thai, and Chinese, Philippine and even an Aussie Outback Steakhouse where you can enjoy juicy lamb chops! But every restaurant has a large choice of Asian delicacies because most of the customers are from the East.
Although the streets are congested there are hardly any tricycle rickshaws or motorbike taxis as in other Asian countries. It is a more prosperous city and things are quite expensive. You pay at least $50 (US) for a taxi from the airport to Wan Chai in the inner city. The hotel rooms are rather small but comfortable and can amount to anything from $70 (US) and up per night. A proper meal comes to $40 (US). The HK Dollar is 7:1 to the American Dollar.
Trains are full and on time and the directions are given in Chinese and sometimes English. It is a very efficient way to travel here.
Most of the bands in restaurants are Filipino bands. They find a lot of work here. Filipinos have great musicians and performers.
You cannot fly directly to South Africa from the Philippines so you have to go via either HK or KL (Kuala Lumpur) or Bangkok. The flight from HK is approximately 11 hours.
Apostle Andre Pelser