Friday, October 03, 2014

Hong Kong 2

I was all ready to buy a membership (as is my habit) at the zoo & botanical gardens but it turned out to be free. They had quite a few birds, a few monkeys, and a few tortoises. Unfortunately, it wasn't good for photography since they were all in wire cages and none of the aviaries were the kind you could walk through. So I didn't take many photos, but we still enjoyed wandering around.

When we were watching the tortoises a small rodent ran out and stole some of the tortoise food. I said "look at the mouse". A small girl standing next to me said "it's a rat". Thinking I would educate her I said "it's quite small so it's a mouse". I should have known better. Her father said "Actually it is s rat, it's my area of expertise, that's why she knows." When I looked closer I saw that it did have a rat like head. And the father informed me it's the ratio of the head to the body that helps determine which it is. Learn something every day. Including not to assume you know more than small children!

Beside the lower Victoria peak tram station we had noticed a World Wildlife Fund building. Inside they had information about the Mai Po Nature Reserve that they manage. It's a ways out of town (in the New Territories) but we decided to visit. If nothing else navigating the transit system would be an adventure.

To make it easier to pay fares we bought "Octopus" cards. You can add money to them and use them to pay for transit. The advantage is that you don't have to keep buying tickets. They also seem to be accepted at quite a few stores as well.

Thank goodness that in Hong Kong the signs are in English as well as Chinese. If we were in mainland China getting around would be a lot more difficult!

It took about an hour to get there. The trains were quite crowded (i.e. standing room only) even though we were travelling the opposite direction from all the people commuting into town to work. The last stretch was by taxi. I was glad that the WWF website had provided taxi directions in Chinese (and that I had saved the image on my phone) since the driver didn't understand us.

We were feeling quite proud of ourselves for making it out there, until we found that you couldn't go into reserve by yourself, and the upcoming tour was only in Cantonese! Having come all this way we figured we'd better join the tour. In the end the tour leader was nice enough to give us the high points in English. One of the reasons you aren't allowed to go in on your own is that the reserve is on the border with mainland China which might as well be a different country. We could see the border fence and the buildings of Shenzhen in the background.

Mai Po Nature Reserve

Given that it was supposed to be a good time of the year for seeing birds, there didn't seem to be a lot of them around. And the ones we did see were common and familiar - grebes, cormorants, ibis, egrets, and herons.

great egret

The lotus flowers were beautiful:

lotus flower

I always look for lizards in tropical countries but I hadn't seen any so far. I asked the tour guide and she said they have lots of skinks and geckos. Sure enough, a few minutes later I spotted a skink.


I'm also a fan of praying mantises so I was pleased to see this one:

praying mantis

In the evening we went down to the pier to watch the laser light show. It turned out to not be the best viewpoint but we still got a chance to see some of the night lights.

Hong Kong at night

The escalators (the longest in the world) run downhill in the morning for people going to work, and uphill the rest of the day. They transport a steady stream of people.

mid level escalators

See all 16 photos as a slideshow or overview

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