Friday, September 29, 2006

Stanley: Shopping and Sand

We are all trying to get a fix on where we are. Roycie commonly says “I went to sleep and woke up in Hong Kong!” Which is probably pretty much what it feels like to her except of course for the fact that she did not sleep on the 14 hour flight! Our apartment complex here is called the Manhattan. Adam will drop the “the”, saying “we in Manhattan!” with great joy which perhaps makes us sound quite confused as well. No matter how disorientated we are, it is hard to miss that it is lovely here and that it is indeed beach living. We now know that we are on the south side of Hong Kong Island, about one mile north of Stanley, a small beach town. And we know we can get there via our handy Manhattan shuttle leaving every 20 minutes.

From what I gather reading signs around town, Stanley was the first administrative headquarters for the British after annexation of Hong Kong in 1842. Later the headquarters were moved to what is now Central (where Phil works). Stanley is also where a British division was defeated during the Japanese invasion in 1941. We have wandered through a Tin Hau (Goddess of Heaven and protector of seafarers) Temple built in the 1760’s, minutes from the front door of our grocery store! The temple has an open sun roof in the entrance way. On one grey day, the rain streamed through the roof, while passing folk walked around the square of rain and kneeled to pray. In the temple we saw a large tiger pelt displayed on the wall, apparently shot by British officer in 1940 as it wandered around Stanley. I think the pelt was kept due to its large size, not due to the surprise of a tiger in Stanley. We had to leave abruptly then as the kids were making impolite- to say the least- faces and noises about the extreme incense smell in the temple!

To my mind, at least in these early days, Stanley appears to be pretty evenly divided into shopping and sand. The Stanley Market, a large meandering open air market is the heart of the shopping. Lots of trinkets, silk, knock offs and to our extreme delight princess dress-up clothes. We love to wander around see what is going on and think about what we might buy for friends’ at home once we figure out the post office. Also in Stanley we have a large grocery store, a McDonalds and a good toy store- all of which get plenty of business from us. The open air market is frequented by tourists, including many huge tourist buses from mainland China. As both blonde hair and boy-girl twins are thought to be good luck there, we get lots of attention. At first the kids were a bit scared and shy when patted or touched by strangers. Now I notice all three are hamming it up for whatever tourist happens their way. So far we have been photographed with police, college girls and storekeepers.

The best part of Stanley for us is the beaches. We love Stanley Main Beach, which is an easy walk from our shuttle bus stop. A good sandy beach with great facilities, including showers, locker room, and snack bar. We commonly share the beach with just a handful of beachgoers and lots and lots of beach lifeguards, To Adam’s delight, the lifeguards not only rake the sand but also drive a beach vehicle for sweeping and cleaning hourly. Not to my delight is the shark net, clearly described and marked at the beach. The signage lets you know that sharks could slip through the net at which time a warning flag (with a red shark fin) will be flown. While there have not been shark sightings in recent years, I check the flag pretty frequently throughout our beach day! The water is clean and warm and already many afternoons have been spent playing in the sand and wondering how we ended up on a beach in Hong Kong.


Blogger le solitaire les forrets said...

Hey Albie, this is sweet!, although I had to create my own blog to leave comments on yours.

2:40 PM  
Blogger le solitaire les forrets said...

I forgot to say that this is mark, also my new blogger name is an obscure litterary reference you might remember.

7:58 AM  

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