A Travellerspoint blog

Hong Kong

Hong Kong – Hong Kong

A taste of Asia with a few western comforts

sunny 28 °C

Well as good as it was to be back in Perth, nothing beats being back on the road again! With its colonial history and Asian roots, it ended up being a great place to start with. Having no idea of the language is going to be a little tough but lets see how we go.

Landing and making our way into the city is a little bit of a shock to the travel system. I need to get out of the habit of replying in Spanish to every foreign person i meet... Luckily, having British rule for a good century and a half, English is an official language. The other thing that you notice on the way into the city from the airport is that Hong Kong has embraced high density living the max. Home to the most expensive real estate in the world, it’s no surprise when you consider the 7 million population squeezed into some small islands off of China

Our accommodation was on Kowloon peninsula looking over towards Hong Kong Island. The accommodation was in Chungking Mansions which had this description for it as one of the top 10 things to do in Hong Kong...

When the local tourism board refers to Hong Kong as "Asia's World City" it's referencing the well-ordered worldliness of big banks, fine hotels and a philharmonic — not the worldliness of Bangladeshi hash dealers and Nigerian men trading used PCs by the container load. But this other Hong Kong can be found on the Kowloon peninsula, in the great sleepless citadel known as Chungking Mansions. The complex of five 17-story towers is home to residential apartments, low-rent guesthouses and offices, money changers, restaurants and shops. Some 5,000 people live here, but the population swells daily by an extra estimated 10,000 multinational visitors, buying and selling everything from secondhand mobile phones to old clothing. According to one estimate, 20% of the mobile phones now in use in sub-Saharan Africa have passed through this high-rise souk.

http://www.time.com/time/travel/cityguide/article/0,31489,1850110_1850124_1852107,00.html

After successfully negotiating our way past the tailors, sim card sellers, watch sellers and money changers loitering at the entrance we walked purposely towards the lifts down the back corner and up to the hostel. The room was clean and secure, but being Hong Kong empty space was at a premium in the room. It didn’t matter to us though as the bed was far too tempting not to pass up a couple of hours snooze after the overnight flight.

Once we got our self sorted and out of the room we negotiated the subway over to Hong Kong Island and up to ‘The Peak’ to look out over the prime real estate of Hong Kong. We got there for our first views before sunset and took in the views in both directions.

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We got some awesome noodles and rice in a little restaurant up at the Peak to pass the time until it was dark. The skyline comes alive at 8pm every night when there is a 15 minute light show from the buildings on both side of the bay. We got some great night time photos looking down on the city, although we didn’t think the light show was as impressive from this angle as it looked like there must have been more going on down at river level. We figured that we would check out the reverse angle another night.

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The thing that was quite a shock to us was that although Hong Kong is well renowned for its high density built up areas, 75% of the land area in Hong Kong is undeveloped and 40% reserved as parks and nature reserves. You certainly notice this when you are going away from the waterfront areas on Hong Kong and Kowloon.

The following day we saw a lot more of the rural Hong Kong by getting the MTR out to Lantau Island where the big bronze Buddha is located. Known as being the biggest seated Buddha in bronze, i started to get intrigued where the second and first place seated Buddhas are located...

The original plan was to get the cable car up to the Buddha which sits atop one of the peaks on the island. Today was maintenance day for the cable car so the bus was our transport option. The busses are strange in Hong Kong because you have to put your money in a machine which is next to the driver, but the machine doesn’t give any change out, so if you only have a $100 note then that’s how much the ride will cost. We were in such a situation so a quick change run was in order, getting back just in time as the bus departed.

Up at the Buddha we got a few pictures walking up to the base of it, impressive enough as far as Buddha’s go.

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Afterwards we went for a walk and stopped at a small local tea house for some great green tea. It was served up in traditional style with little teapot and drinking bowls. After the break we were going to walk back to get the bus, but the old lady at the tea shop told us to walk down the ‘wisdom path’. I’m not sure we are any wiser, but we got to see big tree stumps with Cantonese writing on them.

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Says something wise and insightful we guess

Getting back into Hong Kong we made our way down to the Kowloon waterfront to get ready for the light show. There was a bit more going on when watching it from this side of the water and there were plenty of other tourists who couldn’t get enough of the lasers, spotlights and musical soundtrack.

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On the final day in town, we got the famous Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island. For only HK$2.50 (AU $0.30) per crossing its got to be one of the cheapest touristy things to do in town. Over on Hong Kong island we went and passed a few hours sat up on the IFC buildings (nick named Mini Me and Maxi Me buildings) rooftop terrace enjoying the warm weather and views over the harbour while planning out our coming weeks itinerary before we cross the border into mainland China.

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Forgot someone’s birthday, pick up a card on your way over from the vending machine!?!?

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Mini Me and Maxi Me buildings

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FINAL THOUGHTS
Daniel – The easy way to try out Asia. Enjoyed the city and was pleasantly surprised by the parkland and beaches that surround such a massive city of high rise buildings.

Tanya – An easy introduction to China, we had a relaxing few days exploring the city. Staying in ChungKing mansions was an experience in itself, fortunately wed been given very good directions to our guesthouse and made it past all the hawkers.

Posted by dbgomes 05:19 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged hong kong round_the_world Comments (0)

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