I can't help but wonder what the China my grandparents saw looked like in the sixties when they traveled on their world cruise. That's of course assuming they got to go there at all. The image I had of this part of the world was heavily influenced by Hollywood, especially movies focusing on the early days of communist China. vibrant, metropolitan, colorful China today blew away those dated images in my head of everyone wearing grey and riding bicycles. The cityscape is modern, daring, and an architectural masterpiece. Bright lights and digital displays give it an edge that I thought was unique to Hong Kong, but clearly China is embracing.
I learned a lot about China and Taiwan history,touring museums in both countries. Seeing the Terra-cotta warriors in the ground where they were buried, as the first emperor of China in the Chen dynasty, must of saw them, brought history to life.
I started this blog post a couple days ago leaving Shanghai. Now we are in Hong Kong. We just met a gentleman from Iceland who traveled to Hong Kong in 1969. What my grandparents must of seen, what he remembers, was a cityscape of building no higher than 4 floors, very British, wood club atmosphere. Boy does it look different today! The only thing old and wooden are the ferries running back and forth between Kowloon and Hong Kong.
We took a ferry today, twice, and one bus ride, to get to what we thought was going to be a sleepy fishing village forgotten by time on an island near Hong Kong.. The first town we encountered was modern but small. Everyone rode bicycles! The ferry parking lot was a large shed filled with bikes. Paul and I had beverages waiting for Bill to finish a massage at a seaside hotel that felt empty. Surely we were on the right track! Bill burst my bubble when he returned. The hotel was full, apparently with folks busy at the moment running a marathon. The area was scheduled for demolition so that newer high rises could be built. Oh well, on to the sleepy fishing village. Apparently that idea was appealing to a lot of tourists, because as the bus pulled into the town and qued in line behind a large group of buses, we realized wee were entering a mob scene. Crowds milled through the narrow streets and alleys while vendors hawked dolphin boat rides, and everything from a fully dehydrated shark to dried starfish, spices, live sea snakes and more. It was old, quirky, smelly, strange, and although far from sleepy, it was why we traveled halfway around the world.
Yesterday, our first day in Hong Kong, we left the ship to be routed directly into a large shopping mall. Bill and Paul, in a race to get out of there, lost me right away. Having no way to call, I decided to explore the mall while waiting for Paul to email me. How strange this mall is. There are more children's stores than women's clothing stores, all desginer wear like Versace. Every high end watch brand has their own store. There is a whole section called Faces with every beauty product represented with their own space and dedicated sales staff. I found a you women with pink hair and a tattoo like Miss Kitty on her back to fix my eyebrows, and shipped for various beauty supplies. Clearly this mall was designed for the wealthy twenty somethings. I suppose this is a reflection of the workforce, or the wealth distribution, or both. Interesting note on shopping for needed sundries in China. Certain American brand names simply are not sold here. Paul could not find low spf suntan lotion in his favorite brand. I could not find replacement shaving cartridges. Guess they will have to wait till Singapore.