Hong Kong Travel Blog› entry 2 of 5 › view all entries
Itâ€™s just after nine when we leave our hotel. We both had a good nightâ€™s sleep and breakfast at the Stanford CafÃ© turned out to be better than the dinner buffet. Granted, the scrambled eggs looked as if they had fallen out of peopleâ€™s noses, but the fried eggs were not bad.
The streets of Mong Kok are quiet when we walk towards the nearest subway station. There are only some people on their way to work and a few walking their dogs. Tourists are scarce and even the streets that are normally packed with market vendors, now only show rows of deserted wrapped up stalls.
As soon as we are underground at subway station Mong Kok we walk towards the map to see how many stops we want to travel.
We thank her and wait till she leaves. Then we buy one way tickets to station Central. Iâ€™m sure she means well and that she probably misunderstood where we wanted to go. But Iâ€™m pretty convinced my Lonely Planet guide is a bit more trustworthy than a young woman who can barely speak English.
Ten minutes later, when we leave subway station Central, we find out my instincts were right. We surface at Statue Square and there are numerous signs pointing us in the direction of the famous peak. And while we start following those signs, we also run into the famous skyscraper of the Bank of China. Word is that the modern construction of glass and steal defies all Feng Shui rules because its shape resembles an axe and is pointed directly at their competitor HSBC. But no matter from what angle we look at it, we canâ€™t recognize any axes. Some people have too much imagination, I suppose.
The signs bring us to a small building from where a special tram drives up the steep Victoria Peak.
Since it is still early we can enter the tram within minutes, which isnâ€™t easy since it is build in the same steep direction as the peak. Itâ€™s a bit like an attraction in an amusement park, everybodyâ€™s excited about taking an unusual ride and all cameraâ€™s are at the ready. The drive up the peak is nice and a bit bizarre because of the sharp angle, but agreeable nonetheless. And it turns out we werenâ€™t that far off with our comparison to an amusement park. All that is missing at the actual Victoria Peak are cartoon characters! There is a whole circus with numerous extremely colourful souvenir shops and stylish restaurants and we even run into a very scary guy dressed up as a shrimp in front of a restaurant thatâ€™s entirely about Forrest Gump.
After riding several long escalators, we finally get to the highest viewing point, and the scenery is breathtaking. Countless skyscrapers from the northern part of Hong Kong Island and the southern part of Kowloon rise from the ground, and I just canâ€™t stop taking pictures. We feel lucky for coming early, it would have taken a lot more hassle and time if there were hundreds of other people all trying to get a glimpse from Hong Kong architecture at its best.
We stop for drinks in one of the coffeehouses (with free internet!) and then weâ€™re on our way again.
â€˜ How much is 150 Hong Kong dollar again?â€™ Rens asks, while looking for his note with conversions.
â€˜ I have no idea,â€™ I answer. Iâ€™m busy checking my camera for the right setting while the boat leaves the dock.
â€˜ Hmâ€¦ About 12 Euro,â€™ Rens says.
â€˜ Dunno. I suppose not, we have a private boat.â€™ I hate wondering if anything is too expensive or not. For us, itâ€™s always cheap and I donâ€™t feel like discussing it all day. From a distance I can see worn down fishing boats floating in the water. The horizon behind the boats is covered with modern skyscrapers and the contrast between contemporary life and old fashioned life looks great.
â€˜ I suppose we should have negotiated about the price before we got on the boat,â€™ Rens says while he is still checking his conversions.
â€˜ I suppose, but itâ€™s too late for that now.
Boats are covered with fishing nets, some men are busy repairing them. Their boat is their transportation, their livelihood and their home. It may not be luxurious but itâ€™s straightforward. I can see the countless upsides on living like this. No traffic jams on your way to work, no frustrated fits when your internet connection fails. Never any problems with neighbors, if you donâ€™t like the people in the boat next to you, you just move the boat.
The twenty minutes are nearly over and before we arrive back at the dock, we pass a lavish yacht.
Our next stop is shopping area Causeway Bay, just to get a taste of the atmosphere. Besides, some lunch would be welcome as well. A taxi takes us to Times Square, which is the centre of Causeway Bay. Itâ€™s a huge mall and though we are starving, we are not in the mood for fancy dining. And the food court at Times Square is all about pompous restaurants. We randomly start walking in some smaller streets outside the mall and after a little while we end up at a nice small place with low booths, an English menu and helpful staff. The dishes of Chinese food are huge and tasty, what more could you possibly want?
Once weâ€™re fed and a bit rested we return to Times Square and walk around in the sterile and flashy shopping mall.
When we leave Times Square to take a look at the rest of the shopping area we run into three Star troopers (soldiers in white, plastic uniforms from Star Wars). Since I adore Star Wars (Iâ€™m a huge geek) Iâ€™m intrigued and follow them around. As it turns out, the Canadian actor Charles Ross is performing a one-man Star Wars Trilogy-show in a theatre in Hong Kong and heâ€™s running around the high-end places in town to promote his show. Unfortunately, his show only plays in the weekend and we will have left Hong Kong by then. I think it might be pretty entertaining to see one guy do an entire Star Wars Trilogy on his ownâ€¦
Anyway, when weâ€™re done tasting atmosphere in the area of Causeway Bay, we think itâ€™s time for a late afternoon nap and we return to our hotel.
A few hours later we leave the Stanford Hotel and stroll through the same streets we passed this morning. In the early hours of the day it might have been quite deserted, now that the evening has fallen, the entire neighborhood of Mong Kok is bustling with all kinds of activity. We end up having dinner at the Pizza Hut, not because we insist on having pizza, but mainly because we donâ€™t feel like having an extensive search for some unique restaurant. Besides, when we were in Shanghai a couple of years before, we noticed that the Pizza Hut is not considered a cheap fast food-joint in China. People actually get in line to get a table in one of the stylishly decorated restaurant that just happens to have the same name and similar menu as an American fast food chain.
At the Pizza Hut in Mong Kok there is no line for the Pizza Hut, but nearly all tables in the three story restaurant are taken, mostly with young local couples.
Then weâ€™re back on the streets, trying to locate the famous Temple Street Evening Market. The boulevards are full with all kind of stands, hilariously horrible musicians and shoppers. All shops are open, all the lights on the bill boards are on, it is quite a sight to see. As soon as weâ€™ve actually found the Evening Market, we are caught up with all stalls and their displayed items within minutes.
There are some nice souvenir options, but also daily items, like underwear, cheap jewelry, toys, socks and clothing. And then there are the stalls that sell sex toys. We are Dutch, weâ€™ve seen the Red Light District, weâ€™re not that easily impressed when it comes to sex products.
We also find out the Evening Market is about more than just buying products. An entire row of open tents provide karaoke machines and the locals are standing in line to sing their favorite song. The last line of stalls we pass offer another interesting service: palm reading and fortunetelling. Dozens of â€˜clairvoyantsâ€™ are sitting at the stalls and have signs claiming they are the best at seeing your future. I wonder how anybody whoâ€™s interested in having their future predicted, would ever pick a â€˜clairvoyantâ€™. They are all there, next to each other. They all look the same, do the same and all claim to be the best. But who really is? Nobody, I suppose. They probably just tell people what they want to hear.
Iâ€™m exhausted when a taxi drives us back to the hotel.