Thursday May 12, 2016

“An enigmatic city of skyscrapers, ancient traditions and heavenly food!” – that’s how one writer describes Hong Kong. And, although we’ve only had 24 hours in which to do it, we’ve managed to sample all three. The skyscrapers were obvious as we left the vast International Airport and drove through forests of glass-&-concrete towers and vertical housing en route to our beds in the downtown Marco Polo Prince Hotel. The ancient traditions are harder to spot in this mostly-modern, money-driven, rapidly changing metropolis – but they were waiting here and there for us and our cameras: for example, in the colourful Taoist temple we visited late yesterday afternoon. And the heavenly food? Well, that just kept coming last night, dish after delectable dish, as we sat down to our first ‘yum char’ feast in a rather posh Hong Kong restaurant.

We have (as you’ve probably gathered) arrived … and this Mad Midlife Chinese Adventure is actually underway. Our 11-hour-plus flight from Godzone passed without a hitch or a hiccup, and the Cathay Pacific crew fed and watered us in style! We touched down around 9-ish in the evening, and enjoyed lit-up views of crowded, colourful Hong Kong (and its spectacular bridges and tunnels) through the windows of our coach.

7.3 million people are somehow jammed into Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories – a combined area of 1100 square kilometres (that’s roughly the size of urban Auckland). Most of them speak Cantonese (whereas most on the Chinese mainland speak Mandarin). We rode a cable-car up steep cliffs to Victoria Peak for some panoramic views … enjoyed a sampan ride amongst the rich-boys’ yachts and humble fishing boats of Aberdeen Harbour … and tried bargain-hunting in the famous Stanley Market.

(No, Ethel, none of these places sound very Chinese. But you can blame that on the British, who forcibly grabbed control of this key location at the end of the Opium Wars, in the mid-1800s – and didn’t give it back until July 1, 1997.)

STILL TO COME: Next up, we’re in for a treat, flying south into Mainland China and beautiful, semi-tropical Guilin – a region of stunning landscapes described as “the best under heaven”. So watch this space …

PEOPLE-NEWS: Our internationally renowned Quacky Yellow Ducks are looking for new homes as people get caught doing silly, embarrassing or hilarious things …

  • Sherrol claimed the first duck, winning our “Check-In Check-Mate” Award before we’d even left Auckland. She was spotted standing happily in the Malaysian Airlines check-in queue instead of the Cathay Pacific … but was quickly rescued and restored to the bosom of our group. 

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.)

This entry was posted in 2016 China by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Not surprised Sherol that you got the first rubber duckie, ha, ha! Say hi to Julie and Bruce from me and hello to Robyn and John. Love your blogs. Love from Mary Burkhardt.

  2. Annette Wyman said to say Hi to Julie & Bruce (saw you in photo). Les is home – yeah!! Have fun. Great photos.

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