Top 10 Near Death Experiences in Hong Kong
By: Stewart C McKay
"Hong Kong is Asia's Safest City". Or so they claim. And yes, there may not be roaming gangs or active volcanoes or bungee-jumping off the ICC... But the committed thrill seeker can still find plenty of opportunities to raise the pulse and eyeball death like confrontational drunk. Try these, if you dare...
1. Take a red public minibus. Doesn’t matter where to. Doesn’t matter where from. They'll get you home in half the time. Because their drivers are, to a man, psychopaths.
2. Attempt to pay for a journey in a red public minibus with a $500 note. I've never had the nerve to try this, but a reliable source tells me that the driver's stare when presented with said note chills the very marrow.
3. Eat a '1000 year egg', i.e. a boiled egg soaked in a mix of clay, ash, salt and quicklime. Don’t worry, they’re not really a thousand years old. Maybe just three or four weeks. But boiled eggs aren’t renowned for their preservative abilities and so that maybe three or four weeks too many. I’m no fan of egg at the best of times but these truly are some way beyond awful. Legend has it that they were soaked in horse urine in the days of yore. And to be honest, I doubt that would make them taste much worse.
4. Go to an outdoor swimming pool on April 1st. Because, you see, the swimming pool authorities here are big fans of April Fools. It’s the undisputed first day of summer and so, naturally, the heating goes off. Regardless of the fact that early April in Hong Kong is not very warm at all. An unheated pool on an August afternoon, sun melting in the sky, after a sticky day at work, is gorgeous. An unheated pool on a cloudy April 1st, temperatures struggling to get above 20 degrees… Less so.
5. Climb Lion Rock. The views over Kowloon from the peak are sumptuous. Pick one of the three days a year when there isn’t a haze and it’s even more stunning. But if you attempt the hike at any time between April and November, when the humidity levels are up, then prepare to look as if you’ve just showered with your clothes on. See also Needle Hill and, for the slightly more insane, Sharp Peak.
6. Visit Ocean Park on a public holiday. AKA, the ultimate test of human patience. Unless you’re a queue fetishist. In that case you’ll bloody love it.
7. Take a tram when you have somewhere to be. The famous Star Ferry is now, sadly, a mere tourist attraction. A five minute pleasure cruise. But the rickety trams that rattle along Hong Kong Island? They’re crammed with commuters, right? That’s what I thought when, with an appointment in Central, I hopped on. What would have been a fifteen minute journey by underground, or bus, soon ticked towards half an hour. Then forty five minutes. Without a seat. Or air-conditioning. In July. I thought I was going to explode.
8. Walk barefoot along a pebble path. Picture the scene: you're in a park. You've got the benches, and the joggers, and the kids flying kites. Then you see a path of upturned pebbles with old folks shuffling along. Officially it's a 'Reflexology Walking Path'. Looks relaxing, you think, so you whip off your shoes and hop on. Apparently the Chinese believe that the foot is a window on to your general health. Got a sore big toe? Actually it's a problem with your nose. That painful bit near your right heel? That's your rectum. Such was the agony after 10 feet of pebble path that I became convinced I must be terminally ill.
9. Get Lost in Chungking Mansions. A bit of a cliche this one. Chungking is a sprawling block of restaurants, guest houses, hostels, sex shops and other seedy bits and pieces, now so notorious that it's a tourist destination in it's own right. What qualifies this as a near death experience is not so much the inhabitants, or the dodgy curries, but the fact that you can wander the corridors and stairwells for hours and not find an exit. Hey, look at the exposed wiring... Oh, is that blood on the wall...?
10. *** Save this for last. Only attempt if the previous 9 don't satisfy your need for speed, you adrenaline junkie, you ***
Go to China for the day.
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Contest Comments » There are 3 comments
Stewart has hit the nail on the head. After three years in Hong Kong I can identify with his comments. Hong Kong has many quirks, but is generally a delightful place to be.
Great title and great article. I can relate to the one on riding the tram. They can be a little dangerous here in Nepal, too. One time I almost got thrown up against the wall on one. It was a very close call.
A good laugh and oh so true. Have to say my favourite is #10. Though I've only been to Shenzhen and Guangzhou so far, they have been absolutely horrific experiences. The mainland is its own separate world, of which I have no desire to venture to. Unless, of course, I'm looking for a near-death experience!