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Phespirit goes to China
Hong Kong     March 2003

Two horsemen sped their mounts across the globe in March 2003. One horseman fetched the evil of war from America, with its shameful coalition of mercenary politicians, to Iraq, riding roughshod over all world opinion and international law. The other horseman fetched the curse of pestilence from China, cloaked in stifling state secrecy, to Hong Kong and beyond, indiscriminately spreading fear, sickness and death.

This second horseman, called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), was particularly concerning for Phespirit as he flew out from London to Hong Kong that month ..... but he pressed on anyway.

From his hotel based on Hong Kong Island, Phespirit began his stay by walking across the city from the Fortress Hill area (east of Victoria Park) over to Bonham Strand West, at the west end of Chinatown. On the way he visited the musty temples of Hung Sheng, Pak Sing and Man Mo, which seemed small, dark and incongruous against the powerful, skyscraping backdrop of concrete and glass. At the south side of the island he went to Aberdeen and Stanley by coach, and later made the mandatory trip up the Peak.

All other destinations around this 'Special Administrative Region of China' were reached by ferry:

  1. Lamma Island: Phespirit's favourite island. Best appreciated by following the footpaths all the way from Yung Shue Wan in the north - via beaches, hills and caves - to Sok Kwu Wan in the east.

  2. Lantau Island: The biggest island hereabouts. Phespirit started at Mui Wo, took a bus to/from the Po Lin Monastery at Ngong Ping, then hiked over shattering hills from Mui Wo to Discovery Bay.

  3. Kowloon: The other side of Victoria Harbour. Phespirit caught the 'Silver Star' ferry there and back but didn't hang around too long as Kowloon was apparently the local breeding ground for SARS.

  4. Macau: Across the Pearl River estuary. This is the other 'Special Administrative Region of China'.

As the time approached for Phespirit to leave Hong Kong, it was noticeable that many more people were walking about wearing face masks than was the case when he arrived. Phespirit had not worn a mask at his hotel, or at Oliver's Super Sandwiches (for his scrambled eggs breakfast), or anywhere in town, or on the ferries, or on the crowded MTR underground trains, or at Chek Lap Kok airport. Still, he had no signs of the fever as he boarded his near-empty Cathay Pacific flight on to Singapore, so ..... lucky?

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