Chung King Express was filmed, bringing the area to life all the more vividly in my mind's eye).
Repulse Bay Hotel, which is of particular interest to me because I'm currently reading Eileen Chang's Love in a Fallen City. This novella by one of China's preeminent writers of the early twentieth century is partly set at this very hotel, during the Second World War. It tells the story of Bai Liusu, a beautiful but disgraced divorcee in her late twenties, who has been forced to live on the charity of her Shanghainese family. As money becomes tight during the war, her family makes clear that they'd just as soon send her back to her loathesome in-laws or let her beg in the street. But when the matchmaker Mrs. Xu takes an unexpected interest in her situation, Liusu agrees to be offered up to one of the biggest playboys in China, Fan Liuyan, the orphaned son of a wealthy, property owning family - gambling that she'll be able to snare him into marriage. Travelling with Mrs. Xu to the Repulse Bay Hotel where she is set to meet Liuyan, Liusu's first impression of the hotel still holds true today: "Soon cliffs of yellow-and-red soil flanked the road, while ravines opened up on either side to reveal dense green forest or aquamarine sea. As they approached Repulse Bay, the cliffs and trees grew gentler and more inviting. Returning picnickers swept past them in cars filled with flowers, the sound of scattered laughter fading in the wind."
Wandering along the beach, staring at the vanishing horizon, brought these characters to life all the more immediately in my imagination.
The following week, we departed for Shanghai where we spent the next few days eating, drinking and touring the galleries of Shanghai's truly impressive art scene.
From Shanghai, we took the train to Suzhou, a smaller city known historically as a centre of poetry and the arts, landscape architecture in particular. The gardens of Suzhou are delightful for strolling, contemplation and just letting your imagination wander. I can't think of a better form of rejuvenation.