Travelling to Hong Kong – First ipressions
Jacqui and I left Vancouver airport at 2:45 AM after an already long day for a 13.5 hour flight to Hong Kong. We arrived on time at 7 AM and headed to our hotel to leave our bags until they could give us a room.
Not content to be jet lagged we had signed up for a walking tour of Hong Kong with Jamie of J3 Private Tours. Off we went to explore the island of Hong Kong with Jamie. We took the famous Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong. The ferry terminal is about five minutes from our hotel. We walked around the Central District, took a trolley bus for a ride then a taxi to the Peak. The Peak is probably one of the most famous tourist attractions, it overlooks the city providing incredible views of same. The only problem that arose is that it is a public holiday which the Chinese consider a ‘dangerous day’ that requires hiking and climbing mountains. Well the result, as you have already guessed, is a massive traffic jam up the mountain road, overcrowded Peak Trams with huge line ups and massive line ups for the buses which are caught in the traffic.
We finally made it to the top and it was worth the pain of travel.
However, the site that will stick in our minds was the gathering of the Filipina ‘maids/nannies’. Apparently every Sunday and public holiday, all the maids from the Philippines and Indonesia gather in groups to spend the day on blankets spread over the pavement to socialize and eat with each other. The Filipinos and the Indonesians in different areas of the city. The city accommodates these gatherings by not harassing them and by closing some streets for them. We saw thousands of these young women all through the business sections of Hong Kong.
Finally back to the hotel for a sleep, exhaustion had set in, we tried to stay awake for the nightly laser show on the buildings of both Hong Kong and Kowloon but Jacqui fell asleep while I was having a beer watching out the window, well, with 15 minutes to go, I slipped into a deep comma only to awake with a few minutes to go to 8 thereby spilling most of my beer in my lap. I watched half of the event then passed out after the endless day.
On Thursday we did two more walking tours, one with Urban Adventures, an off shoot of Intrepid Travels, and the other with a local guide, Ski from her own tour company, Big Foot Tours.
They were both very good, Urban Adventures theme was to show us examples of HK art and architecture. We meet with the guide in Central and with one other person we wandered through Central district discussing Feng Shui forces driving the design of the skyscrapers along with the history of the buildings and companies that built them. From there we took a ride part way on the world’s longest escalator and walked through the art markets. I can assure you that walking in Hong Kong means stairs and up, up, up. We ended up at the University of Hong Kong and visited a museum there.
We headed back to the hotel and got ready for our adventure with Ski.
A very personable guide who took us around Kowloon. Started with a temple, moved to a beautiful garden, a subway stop away, maintained by nuns. From there Ski took us to two famous night markets in Kowloon: the Ladies Market and the Temple Street market. The street is full of hundreds of vendors who set up their stalls and displayed their stuff (mostly junk – although it was startling to see a table full of didoes). At the end of the tour we stopped for a meal in a vegetarian Japanese restaurant – a first for us, very good food.
A quick comment about the weather, it is hot and humid, you from Eastern Canadian will relate to the temperature. It is about 30-33 with 85 to 90% humidity, in the summer it goes much higher on both scales.
Friday Jacqui and I ventured out on our own to Lantau Island using a pattern suggested by Frommer’s guide books. We took a half hour ferry ride to the island, moved to a bus for a 40 minutes tear around the island to Ngong Ping, home to the giant sitting Buddha. After the walk up to the Buddha, some 260 steps, we walked the Wisdom Path, then sat for a large vegetarian lunch at the monastery.
On the way back to the hotel we took the skytrain to meet with the subway system. The skytrain is a gondola ride through some hair raising terrain travelling 5.7km in about 25 minutes, providing panoramic views of the island and the South China Sea.
For dinner, Jacqui and I travelled back to the nunnery to have a good veggie chow down.