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Report 38 +++ December 2006 +++ Two extremes: Hong Kong and Xiahe

In 1997 Great Britain officially gave Hong Kong back to The Peoples Republic of China. Since then Hong Kong has been classed as a "Special Administration Zone" and administered relatively independently from China in terms of both policy and economy. This means that one has to cross a border between both territories and dependent on ones nationality may need a Visa in each direction.

We went there to get a new Visa for China. Just for this Visa we travelled about 3000km in 34 hours by train to Hong Kong. The new train started in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and cost 550RMB (55EURO). For this price we had a so called "Hard-Sleeper" with 6 people in one compartment. It was quite comfortable and we enjoyed the trip. If going to Lhasa with this train oxygen is available for people who have problems with altitude sickness. The train brought us from Xining to Guangzhou, the last 100km across the border and into Hong Kong was made by bus. So in a single day we had obtained two new Chinese Visas and they were safely in our passports.

Hong Kong is very expensive and we didn't enjoy it a bit. The price of a middle sized potato packed in a cling film was 2 HK$ (20 Eurocent). The price for a meal for 2 people was 100 HK$ (10 EURO), for your average European tourist this is not very much, but for a long term traveller like us...it is a lot.

Fortunately we could cook in our hotel and so kept the cost down for our stay in Hong Kong. We have never seen so many McDonalds restaurants in one town, so it must be a profitable business. And the restaurants are always full of people, because, unlike in main-land China they serve the cheapest food in town.

We didn't feel good between these gigantic skyscrapers, where seldom the sun is shining. Business is the most important thing in Hong Kong, if you ‘don't do business’ then it is not the right place for you. The pace of life is hectic and the people are arrogant and sometimes extremely unfriendly. We were very happy to return to the "real China" and escape from this unbearable rat race of Hong Kong.

We spent Christmas in Xiahe. People who don't have the opportunity to go to Lhasa should go to this little, holy place. 1174 prayer wheels surround the gigantic temple complex of the monastery Lobrang, which is home to 1200 monks. Every day Tibetan people can be seen doing the ‘Kora’ by walking 3 km around the holy place in clockwise direction. As they go they move the prayer wheels clockwise. Every turn is believed to send a prayer to heaven, which should clean the spirit, and set the being free from useless thoughts. We visited all the temples with their Buddha statues, and the big prayer hall of the monks. We enjoyed the atmosphere of this place and are happy that a place like this still exists in China.    andreaslina@yahoo.de