Sunday, November 28, 2010

三龍 - Kowloon Southern District

-- 3 --

Mong Kok, Kowloon

Persistent tightness in my legs and feet meant that I didn't light out for Lantau at the crack of dawn. I did get some planning in for the rest of the trip, though, even if today is mostly written off. I did a bare minimum of 10km yesterday, and was up and moving for most of 12 hours. Not having the time to cycle up training, due to illness and car problems, before heading overseas is unfortunately catching up with me.

The heat hits you like a bulldozer. There's a lot of shade to be had from all the giant buildings, but crossing somewhere like Jordan, where the road's 100 feet wide on all sides, it just beats down mercilessly. And this is November. May, when I was here last, was worse, or maybe I was just worse prepared. Now, nothing but tropical-weight shirts; then, relatively heavy cotton and a fugue state.

121. Spanish moss over the promenade, 180s of Nathan Road.

I don't know that I can or can't find the hotel that I flitted in and out of when I was here last; it may have been rebranded "the Mira" to dodge the association with the $30 squats in the Mirador Mansion, but it may also have ceased to exist at all, or never done so in the first place. There was a lot of the unreal about that leg of that trip.

122. Highrises over Kowloon Park.

My feet are holding up ok; after this shopping bit is over, it may be for a late lunch, nap, and rail/bus out to Sai Kung if it stays this warm.

123. Kowloon Park, infrastructure view.

124. Turtles, glad not to be on a menu somewhere.

125. The IFC rises over a hedge maze.

126. Other iconic buildings over the park.

127. Fountain framed by trees and a hotel. Stop walking, adjust zoom, get postcard.

128. View down the Woodland Path. Almost nothing here is natural; even the ground has been reshaped by bulldozer and, on occasion, concrete rebar. This is more of a garden than a park, but even marginal greenery is good greenery here.

129. Great sight lines designed in.

Unfortunately for connessieurs of the weird, the Southern District has been substantially cleaned up. The infamous sign of 2006 fame is gone, and the Chungking and Mirador Mansions may have been cleared as well. Shoestring Travel is still clicking along on the Peking despite the end of zero-day visas, but the comic shop I was after is gone, pushed out by rising rents. Gentrification, it seems, comes to Kowloon as much as anywhere else.

130. Looking up at the side of Heritage 1881.

131. Sign for Ned Kelly's on Kowloon Park Drive. The actual pub is on Ashley, behind these buildings, and classier than the name (which evokes scenes of tattooed Aussies double-fisting San Migs opened with a bowie knife found slammed into the bar) or the sign would indicate. I gave it a pass and spent more than I intended to in the Shamrock half a block up....which turns out to be across from Ebeneezer's, where I ate a durum doner under conditions of magic realism and no identification four and a half years ago. At the time that I wrote this, I was unsure which side of Nathan this place was on; it was now that I got turned around, but it was easy to write off then as a miracle that I could determine which direction 'up' was.

The pints of Guinness at the Shamrock price in at about $8.50 (USD, obviously), which is not too bad for being lugged in from Ireland. It's still cheaper than Norway, which doesn't even have the two-weeks-by-ship excuse, especially not for its local brands.

Hooped rugby tops and a gaggle of German businessmen. Even if the signs are down, Be Aware of Unreal Things.

On a map check, later, Ashley is indeed on the west side of the Nathan Road. It still was disruptive to come out of the throughpass and see the Kowloon Park embankment.

132. Sculpture garden in the park.

I got back to the hotel around 2:30 and took a siesta....which stretched out about eight hours. Stupid heat. Well, off day; like when touring, they're ok as long as you don't take too many of them.

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