From Yangshuo we headed to Hong Kong for a few days to collect a new visa and explore a new city. Hong Kong is a fascinating place and felt very different from Beijing. For me it felt like a pretty accurate representation of what you'd get if you combined New York City and London into one. New York City with the smaller streets, high density of living and commerce and lots of activity. London for the road signs, driving on the left, subway station decor (you could easily be on the tube), accents, and familiar brands.
The speed of life seems much faster, with a richer mix of different cultures and languages.
The food was consistently excellent everywhere we ate and it was a real treat to have no language challenges when ordering meals.
Land is in short supply and the density of tall, skinny buildings is impressive, especially when they sit bolted on to the very steep hillsides. The rare pieces of land that are spared from development really make the contrast in land use evident.
There was a difference between the time spent in Kowloon (on mainland China) and Hong Kong Island, with the latter being more formal business and very high-end commercial and Kowloon suited more to general shopping opportunities including jewelers, electronics vendors and a seemingly limitless supply of tailors.
In short it's a great place to spend a few days.
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Amy and I spent the last week on vacation in southern China and Hong Kong. The trip combined time in Guilin and Yangshuo along with a couple of days in Hong Kong for Amy's visa renewal.
Leaving around noon on Sunday we arrived in Guilin late afternoon. Similar to the surprise in finding Harbin (a medium size Chinese city) to have a population of 'just' four million, it turns out that the area surrounding city houses about the same. We walked around the lakes located in the middle of the city and had the local specialty -- beer steamed fish -- for dinner. By evening, a huge night market had sprung up on the main street selling all manner of products for locals and visitors alike.
On Monday we took a boat cruise on the Li River. Due to a recent drought in the region the river is not as high as usual for this time of year so it was not possible to sail the whole distance to Yangshuo. The abridged circular trip was still impressive with karst rock formations on both sides of the river surrounded by terrain that is said to be the inspiration for Avatar.
We wrapped up the day with performance at Impression Liu Sanjie which was spectacular. With a theater set on the bank of the river, the performance happens on the water itself with some 600 performers, lights and dancing. In this picture, each stick figure is actually a real person. Excellent.
In Yangshuo on Tuesday we rented bikes for the afternoon. What we'd planned to be a leisurely bike ride against the scenic backdrop turned into quite an expedition on dirt roads through rural villages guided by what can only be described as a shoddily-drawn pirate map and Mandarin practice with the locals. We probably covered 30 km in total and had quite a strenuous adventure in the process.
On the final morning in Yangshuo we took a 'bamboo' boat ride down to the point where we'd turned around a couple of days before, returned to the city for lunch and then made our way to the airport for the flight to Hong Kong.
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