Subject: Re: Weekend Trips
Hi Ziners, To go anywhere for a weekend away from Hong Kong, you have to take your passport and either fly or take a bus, train, or boat (only a priviledged few have the ability to drive over the border into mainland China).

Quick hiking jaunts into the countryside are still quite easy within HK itself, though - we've got miles of trails in the New Territories (on the many islands and the mainland that comprise Hong Kong). Most include some combination of beautiful white sand beaches, craggy hills, and tall/creaky bamboo groves. Many take you through tumbledown villages that once were humming with people but are now almost empty because the owners have moved to Britain or Australia to open up Chinese restaurants!

Our favourite weekend escape from HK is to Macau - just a quick 1 hr jetfoil (hoverferry) ride to our neighbouring Special Administrative Region of China. It's European (Portuguese) nature and slower pace is a stark contrast to the hubbub of HK and, here, cultural heritage has been treasured and preserved (another major contrast to HK). We often rent a small flat on one of the smaller islands of Macau and walk the hills, take a bus to the centre and wander through the old Leal Senado square and enjoy the ambience of a colonial Portugal-China mix, and then take full advantage of the (relatively) cheap Portuguese wines and wonderful Macanese food (a delightful mixture of African and Portuguese with a hint of Chinese thrown in).

Other nearby escapes are (by bus and/or train) to Guangzhou (formerly Canton) - not quite as picturesque, but definitely an interesting part of Southern China; Zuhai; and Sun Yat Sen's birthplace at Zhongshan. Many in HK go over the border to Shenzhen to shop.

Hong Kongers fortunate enough to have the resources to fly, take advantage of long weekends to fly to cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, and Manilla... or to beautiful beach locations which are just a few hours away in Thailand, Malaysia, or the Philippines.

As I write this, I remember how exotic these places all sounded to me six years ago (when we first arrived). They are no longer 'exotic' - but I still feel incredibly fortunate to have so many fascinating places literally at my doorstep for weekend (or longer) trips.

Cheers! Judy in HK