Meeting them, lots of them to be specific. I took the mid-levels escalator up to, well, the mid-levels and enjoyed elevenses with Jenny whilst she told me all about her and her husbands trip to Burma back in the day - exciting stuff and I'm looking forward to it even more.
The mid-levels escalator is basically a mixture of travellators (not as steep as gladiator style!) that take you from the centre of town to the 'burbs' of hong kong where all the ex-pats live. It's the longest escalator in the world, but is actually a set of them all joined up together.
The view from Jenny's on the 36th floor was amazing and she regaled me of the pros and cons of her trip, I'm sure I'll have similar experiences soon too. Then it was back over to Ap Lei Chau to do some more on the ground exploring.
The best way I can describe the island is basically two great big mounds on an east-west line. If I'd been shot in the arm and only had one leg and needed to get to the other side of the mountain, what route would I take? That's right - between the two over the lowest part and smallest gradient. So, in 30degree blazing sunshine and 90% humidity I set off. It was treacherous and just like being in a sauna! When I got to the pass there's only a ruddy sports ground and a couple of nutters running round it! Anyway, the place has completely changed - high rise residentials all round.
So, from there I set off to see the place where the Admiral got shot at from the South side of HK island (Brick Hill, pill box 12 to be precise) which is now a canadian international school - very nice. Blagged my way in there and met the uber-helpful head of history Bruce Macnamara who was dead interested and gave me lots of interesting people to speak to in the short time I have left here... I went out on the balcony of the brand spanking new theatre they've had built and looked back to the south channel (see Richard Hide's website for a map). It's obvious from this point where the MTBs would've got shot up from - there's only two gaps you could see them through... and I would've definitely felt really exposed if I'd just managed to make my way over to ap lei chau too - not a nice place to be at all... Then up to a memorial garden near there (more sports ground stuff - with exercise things for the aged, which is kinda weird but really cool too) and again, similar types of panorama.
Bruce also told me about a photography exhibition of old photos of ap lei chau, so I'm going to meet the curator of that and then he took me to statue square back in the centre of town. The Japs took all but one of the statues (except the boss of HSBC bank as they didn't think it was important enough!) to melt them down. They later returned the one of Queen Victoria. Across the street were Steven and Stitt, two bronze lions that still bear the wounds and bullet holes from the fighting - it's always weird to see holes like that carved into such a strong material - makes you feel vulnerable just looking at it.
Then I took some photos of 2008 hong kong from the same perspective of some 1930s hong kong photos I'd been sent - the place is pretty much unrecognisable. This did however lead me to the 29th floor of the LKF hotel balcony bar and breathtaking view of Central. A breathtaking bill for a beer too, but I guess it was worth it. Until it was spoiled by a load of suits turning up - "what's the point of being in hong kong if you never get to see any of it?" one of them said to me. "Especially as we've just finished work" he said at 19.50 before talking to his 'mates' about options, real estate and more shop... Yeah, what's the point exactly mate!
Today (Friday) saw me get a full refund for the extortionately expensive ticket I had to buy at Heathrow, which is a weight off my mind and then I met Tim Ko and Peter Cunich at the University of Hong Kong. These guys were possibly the most interested people I've met - so knowledgeable on the subject and it was great to talk to them about names they knew but for their exploits after the war - gave them a little insight I think (hope) into what they were up to before hand...
Finished the day off with this and a viewing of the cheesey but quite impressive festival of lights. Basically at 8pm every night, they blare music out of loud speakers and the lights on the buildings do a coordinated 'dance'. It's impressive to watch but the energy... And the light pollution here is unbelievable!
Going to the museum of coastal defence tomorrow with a journalist and then Duncan and the photo exhibition of ap lei chau on Sunday hopefully. China, here I come, Monday!