Kowloon, Hong Kong
After a horrible 9 hour flight from Sydney where I had to sit next to a 7 foot tall monster who didn't make life an easier for himself by insisting on putting his bag underneath his seat, I arrived in Hong Kong. I was pleasantly surprised by Hong Kong my first time in Asia. My first impressions of the obsessive cleanliness and enviable efficiency of the city’s metro system made me think of Japan.
I had 3 days here to fill, something I would learn is not hard. I had chosen to stay in a hotel after I'd various reports first hand including one from Sai who is a former resident of Hong Kong about how by staying in hostels you are taking a risk with your personal safety. Now that I've been there I think these reports were somewhat exaggerated and when it comes to safety Hong Kong is no different to any other major city.
The main problem with staying in hotels apart from the higher cost is that you don't get to meet any other backpackers so I pretty much met nobody while I was there. A rather lonely 4 days !
The first day I spent exploring Hong Kong Island
. What amazed me about Hong Kong was the sheer volume of people and incredible amount of sky scrapers crammed in to such a small place, especially as I come from London
with a similar population. Also I've never been anywhere with so many shops selling exactly the same thing, entire streets as far as the eye can see all selling cloth and material.
The second day I was to the peak and the Tian Tan Buddha at Ngong Ping. To reach the peak you travel by a tram that first opened in 1888, the views from the top are impressive, even more so if it hadn't been so misty.
Tian Tan Buddha
It was here that I got the idea to visit the Big Buddha after visiting the extremely helpful Hong Kong
tourist board. The Big Buddha is on Lantau Island
where the new airport is situated and although you can travel to it by bus I chose the new Ngong Ping 360 cable car. This new cable car is new and only officially opened at the end of 2007. When I was halfway and the car was being buffeted by the wind the Canadian couple who I was sharing the car told me that the system had a number of technical problems before opening including a car falling off the cable and plummeting 50m to the ground.
Thankfully there were no problems with the car and I made it to the Big Buddha in one piece, the world's tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha.