27.09.2016 - 30.09.2016
Hong Kong ("HK") was absolutely awesome!! A great mix of a modernised city; ancient civilisation and heaps of cultures - it was amazing! Although considered a "stop over" for some fellow travelers, Alex was adamant to stay there prior to the US. So adamant in fact that when he realised we had only booked 3nights, he extended the trip to spend more time in HK (mainly Macau) before coming home.
The flight was long and bumpy, but we arrived safely at 7:00am on Wednesday morning. The airport was so big, our excitement took over and we ended up exploring the airport for over 2hrs! We took a train within the airport from our terminal to pass through immigration. From there we both just stood in awe and had a lot of fun exploring.
Once we finally got to the exit, we took a cab to our hotel. It took about an hr to get to there as we were staying on HK Island (aka Fragrance Harbour). I did not sleep well on the flight over, so I shortly passed out once we got in the cab. The cabs in HK look quite small on the outside, but are deceivingly spacious on the inside. I was also pleasantly surprised with how much staff there was. It felt like a 10-1 ratio of staff to customer count, there are just people everywhere! I think it's something like over 58 million people travel to or through HK each year - so they certainly know how to maximise on the tourism there.
By the time we got to the hotel, it was 10:30am. Check in was not until 2:00pm, but the staff were kind enough to offer us 2 single bed instead of a double so that we could check in early. We made it to the 22nd floor, I jumped in the shower and just about to have a nap when Alex queried whether I had checked out the view from our window. It seemed that the room change also came with a complimentary view overlooking the cemetery. It is one of the earliest Christian cemeteries dating back to the 1840's and contains both military and civilian burial. When I mentioned it to my family, jokes were being made that the Asian ghosts are the most scariest, making reference to the original Grudge and Ring. Alex made it clear though that they are Japanese ghosts. He helped the situation by ensuring that most of Chinese ghosts are sexy (making reference to Chinese Ghost Story 1,2 &3). This elevated some of my anxiety, if I was going to be haunted over the next few days, at least it would be the sexy kind of haunting. Other than the cemetery situation, it was a very nice hotel 4.5 stars. The staff were all very friendly and extremely accommodating.
Once we were rested, it was time to "get lost" in the city, as Alex would put it. He had found a restaurant on TripAdvisor which was a 20mins walk from the hotel. The thing about HK however, is that there are quite a lot of roads that are not necessarily pedestrian friendly... that is until you find the route that is. Taking this into consideration and the fact that Alex (and I) were in total awe and constantly stopping to marvel and take photos, it took us about an hr to find the place. We like to try new things, so lunch consisted of deep fried cold whole fish; jellyfish; some fungi; chili noodles; and Chinese vegetables. The jellyfish was served cold and was surprisingly refreshing. The fungi was quite squishy and moist, but enjoyable enough and the noodles were delicious!
After lunch we wandered the city for another 5hours or so, getting completely lost; taking pictures at every opportunity. One of the shops that we entered had a variety of local candy and dried treats. As mentioned, Alex really loves trying new things, so purchased some dried squid (which had an incredibly fishy smell and similar fishy taste); herb dried olives (weird sweet flavour); preserved citrus lollies; ginger lollies and green bean cookies. Despite the fact that I tried all of the items, safe to say the cookies was the only thing I could stomach.
We started the next day with one of those hop on hop off buses, after taking a gigantic walk to the harbour (nearly 3hrs) to collect the tickets. The walk would have definitely been quicker had we not continuously stopped to shop or try some local food. This included things like fig jelly; fortune tellers; 24 carat gold jewellery and marveling at the views. The shopping malls are somehow part of the community in HK - not only do some have housing cinemas, they also have sporting facilities and ice rinks! As well as restaurants and cafes, they also have carnival rides, pianists playing baby grand pianos, string quartets, there’s even a university attached to a shopping mall!
Another amazing site is the use of bamboo scaffolding to build the huge concrete buildings. Bamboo and shade cloth netting shrouds construction sites and renovation sites. Buildings undergoing maintenance also have bamboo poles fixed to the outside, way up in the air. To watch the speedy way the scaffolding goes up or is taken down is incredible. The day tour took us to places including various temples; Stanly, Temple St and the Ladies markets; beautiful sights like the Harbour and the Clock Tower, and of course the Peak. The tram ride to the Peak is an experience to say the least, the gradients on the tracks have to be experienced to be believed!!
We also to the southern parts of HK Island, learning about the history of the island including the opium wars; seeing where the pirates hung out, called Repulse Island and then to Aberdeen, which is where the locals fish. The tour then involved a ride on the traditional Sampson boat that took us out to the fishing boats and also the gigatanic Jumbo Floating restaurant. We then continued the tour by taking it to a more self guided tour - again getting lost in the city, where we viewed the awesome light show; the heritage hotel and the avenue of stars.
My cousins and sister flew in on the Friday. Alex and I met them at their hotel room for a celebratory martini and then had plans for some Peking duck. When Alex and I got into the elevator to get to the lobby of their hotel however, we somehow got the buttons mixed up and went up instead of down. When the doors opened, who walked in but all of my cousins and my sister. It was so surreal and hilarious - the start to an awesome holiday together!!!