Hong Kong

Hong Kong Travel Blog

 › entry 97 of 117 › view all entries
Hong Kong from altitude

After the zombie-like state that the festivities in Bangkok and a couple of hours sleep had given me, I was well pleased to negotiate a taxi, plane, train and bus journey followed by a half-hour walk to find accommodation and make it to Hong Kong in one piece.

Soaring realty prices and a lack of floor space means that everything in Hong Kong pretty much gets built upwards before it gets built outwards. Quite peculiarly, most hostels are contained within a floor in one of the massive decaying high-rise buildings in the Kowloon peninsula. I would pretty much have settled for a bed on the floor, though, by the time I got there, and what I got wasn't much more. I could touch three walls at once and my bed looked like a plank with a cover. I woke up on my second and final night feeling rather itchy, and after a twirl in front of the bathroom mirror, I found bites running all the way from the backs of my leg, across my back and down both arms.

Bruce Lee
A little investigation found the culprit: bed bugs. Not pleasant, but a minor blemish on what has been a very enjoyable experience checking out the heaving commercial metropolis that is Hong Kong.

I started off just getting my bearings around Kowloon. Nathan Road, the main road in the peninsula, is known as the Golden Mile - because of the coloured lights, massive realty prices and ability to make money from tourism. Before the sun went down I took a walk down at the harbour front on the Avenue Of Stars, a celebration of famous Chinese movie stars and film makers. Needless to say, the only one I recognised was Bruce Lee. The view across the harbour is, of course, stunning. Even more so once the smog is replaced with the black of night and each of the sky scrapers tries to outdo the others with coloured, and sometimes flashing, lights.

Yeah, not bad skyline. Suppose

My first full day in Hong Kong I ended up with blisters from the amount of walking I did. I took the famous Star Ferry across the channel to Hong Kong Island. I spent most of my time with my neck bent back to view the massive buildings properly. As a massive trade centre and a former British colony, it unsurprisingly reminds me of Singapore. It has the same feeling that everything has been sacrificed to chase the dollar: "No time for recreation or sport, there's cash to be had." That said, it really is postcard-perfect, visually.

After stepping in dog poo, I started my walking tour at the Man Mo temple, where people were lighting cone-shaped incense sticks that hung from the ceiling.

The Star Ferry
I took the famous Peak Tram, which runs part of the way up Peak View Mountain, to Peak Tower, and gives you awesome views overlooking the island and harbour. After walking through Soho and Graham Street Market, I rode what is claimed to be the world's longest escalator, 800-metres long, taking a total of 20 minutes from start to finish. I am going to have to revoke the title, however, because, rather than being one long escalator that takes you 800 metres up, it's lots of smaller escalators that equate to said amount. Sorry, Kong, but false advertising like this will not fly.

As the sun went down I headed to the HK Convention And Exhibition Centre, where I hope to get a nice view of the harbour at sunset. What I found, though, was a book fair. My worst nightmare. I didn't want to be in a book fair, but I made a mockery of the security in the building by managing to evade the entrance fee and make it up past three floors of ushers to a lookout over the harbour.

Lighting incense at Man Mo Temple
No surprise that a cloud had gatecrashed the party, so I consoled myself by eating some ice cream with some kids. I was the only Westerner in the three halls that I had the misfortune to walk through, and I was getting weird looks as to why I would want to look at books that were mostly in Cantonese. Harry Potter made an appearance; is he not dead yet?

I left just in time to catch the Sound And Light Display, with added fireworks for good measure.

I had decided that China's mainland would be tricky on my lonesome, what with the language difficulties and vast mass of land to cover, so had booked up on a group tour in advance. My third evening in HK was to be the evening that I would start my Gecko's China Odyssey tour and meet my fellow travellers for the next 26 days.

Kowloon Light Display

With my last action of independence, I headed out to Lantau, home to the world's largest outdoor seated Buddha (I'm sure I've seen just about every different variable on the 'biggest' Buddha theme by now).

I was a bit presumptious in that I thought the ferry ride out there would take minutes, not hours, and thus, after the best part of three hours taken to get there, I suddenly realised that to make the meeting with my group, I would have only minutes, not hours, seeing the blasted thing. I ran up the steps like Rocky, took some snaps, got an ice cream, then rushed round the monastery with only minutes to spare before I had to catch the ferry back.

I successfully met up with my group that night.

The Convention & Exhibition Centre
What a nightmare: an alcoholic, a transexual, two lepers and pirate. Not really; they all seem fine. Mostly Aussies, mind you, so I'll expect a bit of a ribbing about the state of our national cricket and rugby teams. Never mind. We went out for a Chinese meal, where I was shocked that they charge you 10HKD for tea and 2HKD each for peanuts and sauces, even if you ordered them or not, on top of the 10% automatic service charge! Also, note to self: when ordering duck, half between two people is not enough - we had two pancakes each as our whole meal. Still, an enjoyable start to the tour, and I'm now looking forward to hitting mainland China, the last leg of my trip.

jannahw says:
Some fabulous photos, Dan! Really looking forward to your blogs from China!
Posted on: Jul 24, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Hong Kong from altitude
Hong Kong from altitude
Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee
Yeah, not bad skyline. Suppose
Yeah, not bad skyline. Suppose
The Star Ferry
The Star Ferry
Lighting incense at Man Mo Temple
Lighting incense at Man Mo Temple
Kowloon Light Display
Kowloon Light Display
The Convention & Exhibition Centre
The Convention & Exhibition Centre
One of the many parks
One of the many parks
Cleaning the shop sign
Cleaning the shop sign
Skyscraper overshadowing a colonia…
Skyscraper overshadowing a coloni…
Skyline and harbour from Peak Tower
Skyline and harbour from Peak Tower
All aboard the Peak Tram
All aboard the Peak Tram
Graham Street Market
Graham Street Market
Youre next, sonny!
"You're next, sonny!"
From the Exhibition Centre
From the Exhibition Centre
Just chilling
Just chilling
Mmm, smells yummy
Mmm, smells yummy
Lantern in Po Lin Monastery, Lantau
Lantern in Po Lin Monastery, Lantau
Dragon at Po Lin, Lantau
Dragon at Po Lin, Lantau
The Giant Buddha, Lantau
The Giant Buddha, Lantau
Hong Kong
photo by: Sunflower300