After yesterday’s extravaganza, we decide to take a more modest breakfast at the YMCA. It is decent nosh, if not quite as inexpensive as James remembers. John is a bit the worse for wear this morning, although he is determined to come with us to see the New Territories. I’m not quite 100% myself, and don’t enjoy standing all the way from Kowloon to Sheung Shui—one station short of the end of the KCR line (Kowloon Central Railway). This is as far as we can go without visas for entry into main China from the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong.
First impressions of Sheng Shui is that it is a new town much like those built in England during the 1960s such as Stevenege or Harlow. Elevated walkways take us from the railway station among high-rise offices and apartments. Once into the surrounding streets though, the Chinese influence becomes much more obvious. Traditional medicines are sold seemingly in every other shop. We pass an old woman at a street stall who is snipping at a live lizard with a pair of scissors to remove certain vital parts, much to the disapproval of the lizard.
After a short walk to soak up some of the local flavour, we return to the KCR station and travel back a few stops to Sha Tin, in search of the Monestry of Ten-Thousand Buddhas and the four-hundred step climb up the hillside to reach it. We are therefore slightly surprised to see a series of outdoor escalators snaking their way up the hill—karma appears to be easier here. But on ascending, there is no sign of even one Buddha. We finally surmise that we have erroniously stumbled into the Po Fook Ancestral Worship Halls.
We backtrack to the car park at the bottom and eventually find the path to enlightenment over on the other side. Jay sensibly decides at this point to check out the local branch of IKEA, so three of us set off in the heat, this time unassisted. We are rewarded at the top with moderate views from the tower of the pagoda, although the Buddha statues in each window that we are forced to peer around seem to have secured the best views by arriving first.
In the courtyard, an elephant and a blue dog gaze proprietorially out from under a stone canopy. And finally, the ten-thousand Buddhas, or thereabouts—row upon row of minature golden statuettes lining the inside walls of the main temple building.
Snack lunch in IKEA. Were it not for the chopsticks, available in three bright IKEA colours, we could be back in Nottingham. We return to Hong Kong Island and catch the bus to Stanley Market. The place is packed-out with tourists, probably more than we have seen in the rest of the holiday put together. It is full of things that would require regular dusting and I am not tempted.
Back in Kowloon, we drop our bags at the hotel and hurry to catch the 6 pm service at St Andrew’s. The service is itself unremarkable, but it is nice visit and to slow down for a while.
The evening is dedicated to souveneer-hunting at the Temple Street night market. Stall upon stall selling clothes, watches, CDs, electronics, nick-nacks, etc. I find a daysac to replace the rather small one I have been using up to now, and some green stone chopsticks. Although seemingly good value, I worry that perhaps we reached agreement on the price a little too quickly. My suspicion is confirmed a few stalls further down.
This is our last full day in Hong Kong, and it is my chance to try to retrieve my jacket from the Marco Polo Hotel. I am not entirely sure of my route through a series of dark backstreets, but just as things are looking terminally unpromising, I spy a small sign pointing up some stairs to an overhead walkway. Finally I recognise where I am and make my way into the hotel lobby. My efforts are rewarded as my jacket is safely located and after I have signed in a small box in their weighty tome of lost property, we are reunited.