MangoVine
Adventures in East Asia

Arrival in the New Territories and the Hong Kong public transport system

With the worst snowfall in the UK in 18 years, it had to happen just before we intend to leave for a year! Luckily, although it ground most of London's transport system to a halt on Monday, we had no problem getting to our flight on Tuesday. A fire alarm at Heathrow just before reaching our gate seemed to tempt fate, but didn't cause any problems other than a little delay.

I felt that our 13 hour flight with Virgin passed pretty quickly. They've improved their inflight entertainment system so I could watch their (larger) screens without straining my eyes or ears, whilst my fully charged laptop remained untouched. The good thing with a Hong Kong bound flight is the inclusion of Chinese films, so I managed to fit in Wushu (about a group of friends growing up in a martial arts school) and Three Kingdoms (a period drama based on history).

Anyway, landing on a sunny afternoon in Hong Kong, there's nothing like the smell to tell your senses where you are. I've no idea why, but as soon as we left the air conditioned air plane and entered the warm passage tunnel, there was a slight whiff of a dim sum aroma. But not the kind that would make you hungry - it just makes you think of dim sum that's several hours old and that you want to get out of there!

We left the airport to travel to the New Territories - more specifically Tai Po (the nearest town to our new home) which contains lots of "local" shopping facilities, via the E41 bus. It takes longer (approx. 1 hour) than via train but with heavy luggage, its much more convenient as we don't need to make any changes. For the final leg of our journey, we simply get a taxi from Tai Po to our village (Ting Kok) which takes 15 minutes.

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Our first day is pretty tiring, but we managed to stay up without many problems since it's pretty exciting being in Hong Kong at last! We grab a bite to eat back in Tai Po before returning to Ting Kok for the first night of the festivities.

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This first night is apparently the karaoke night for the locals (see above), albeit with a proper stage and sound system (which they subsequently use for the Beijing Opera during the next few nights). When I say "proper stage", its still only a large bamboo construction, which is built within a basketball court - see below to get an idea. We stay to watch a few rounds before calling it a day.

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A bit about the public transport system in Hong Kong

Choosing either train or bus, much like many other countries, is simply weighed up by what you know about either and how fast you need to travel.

The train system (MTR - Mass Transit Railway) is obviously quick and with a map, you can easily work out how to get to where you need to. The downside is that it does cost a little more than the buses and depending on where you need to go, you may need to change frequently.

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The double decker bus system in Hong Kong seems quite efficient so that although there seems to be quite a bit of traffic, buses do seem frequent and travel quickly enough when they can. There's no escaping the fact that bus journeys can still take awhile however, but they are cheap and can take you directly from one place to another. In some places such as south side of Hong Kong Island, there is no MTR, so you'll need the buses (or taxi's). With the double decker buses, it may be worth investing in some time looking around to see whether there are any routes that take you directly where you want.

There are also the small buses / minibuses (cream coloured with either a green (regulated routes and fares) or red (unregulated) roof - see here for an explanation on Wikipedia - thanks Omar!), which speed along their routes and are suited for when you know their routes and you need to get to your destination quick. They're a little more expensive than double deckers, but not very much, so the time saved is well worth the extra cost.

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This entry posted in : Hong Kong. New Territories.

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16/02/09  at  02:55 PM
Hey guys, glad you got there safely in the end despite snow-related chaos! Can I ask for more photos of the house/surrounds/your neighbours and details on the fabric of day to day life in a village near Tai Po?? I've already learnt loads by reading your posts Mark -I had no idea of those traditions! Oui je sais, je suis une banane.

All well with me though would like to be back in SoCal.

Anyhow, take care. x
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16/02/09  at  04:14 PM
Thanks Lili, photos and details on the way! I've got a huge backlog of posts to write and add!

If it helps, I'm uploading all our photos to:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markwu/collections/72157613575545519/
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27/05/09  at  01:17 AM
hey mark wu
do u live at ting kok village/
and ur in uk.
i live there too .and i live in uk.but dont go back often,maybe this coming new year i go back.
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27/05/09  at  06:06 AM
Hi Wai, yes and yes! Thanks for checking out this site!
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