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Hong Kong

Curious what backpackers do in Hong Kong? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day77

    This is it. The end. The last of 77 days and 77 blog entries.

    We woke up in Hong Kong and went for brunch about 15 steps from our hotel. It was hard to decide if today should be a lazy day or an action packed day but seeing as we did most of the tourist attractions the first time we were here the former kind of won out.

    We sent our big bags off on the airport express, a great service where you can check in bags from a couple of train stations across HK and they'll (hopefully, we've not got back to the UK yet) get on your flight without the need to lug them around all day.

    We went for a walk around Nan Lian Gardens. The gardens were set up in 2006 and are aiming to become a UNESCO site. It's patrolled by an army of staff who want to stop all fun. Not limited to, and this is spelt out on signage, frolicking, bawling and brawling. We saw people stopped from taking fun group pictures and using selfie sticks by the guards. We stayed on the right side of the garden law and walked around uninterrupted. We went to the rockery where each rock had some profound calligraphy attached to it - see photos. We visited a room of beautiful ceramics made by a group of students and a room of important spiritual buildings made out of wood. It drizzled throughout. We also stopped by the most densely populated koi carp pond I've ever seen which was fascinating to watch for a while.

    Once the walk was done we surpassed ourselves in the over ordering stakes at a ''modern Chinese restaurant'. We did however manage to eat it all before heading off to visit the Chi Lin Nunnery. No nuns to be spotted but more Buddhist statues and rocks with poignant phrases. After that we were at a bit of a loose end so what else was there to do but hit Soho and happy hour cocktails for a few hours? £3.50 sangrias helped soften the blow of returning.

    Alas the time came and we're currently sitting at the airport. We went crazy and paid to come into the lounge so showered and watered we await our flight home. The lady serving noodle soup gave me extra fish balls because I wanted 'everything'. There's maybe some deep and meaningful rock worthy life message there.

    The trip has been amazing and as the cliché goes, time flies when you're having fun. The scary part is that we'll go back to normal life almost like nothing happened. I'm not going to miss the packing/unpacking, the sniffing of clothes to decide if they're re-wearable and the constant use of TripAdvisor to dictate my daily activities but that's about it. We're looking forward to seeing our friends and family and our reliable bed and shower. Plus the ability to cross roads safely and not worry about bumping monks.

    Thank you to everyone (all 6 of you I reckon) who have been reading the blog and commenting on what we've been up to. It made writing it worthwhile. Hopefully we'll be back for another trip one day. See you soon UK.

    Helen and Matt xxxx
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  • Day4

    Our final full day in HK. I allowed us to have a lie in until 9.30 seeing as we weren't at the first planned activity until 11. I must learn to be a hippy traveller at some point in these 77 days and 'stop living by the clock, man'. Said activity was a walking tour with HK Free Walk around the area we're staying in, TST. Our 'ambassador' was Stella. She was every so slightly nuts which made for an entertaining few hours learning about the history of HK, the feng shui of the sky line and that the number 4 is bad luck cause it brings death (something like that anyway.) Plus I ate street food fish balls so maybe I am beginning to take some risks. I'll be getting a tattoo from a man in the back of a van next (jokes mum). It was one of those tours when in theory it's free but the tour guides work for tips and some cheapskate always buggers off 10 minutes before the tour finishes to avoid handing any of their cash over. If that's you shame on you.

    After the information overload, most of which I've already forgotten, we caught the Star Ferry for the 600th time this trip and went to Soho to ride the mid levels escalators and eat huge burgers. Then we walked around the harbour front and went to my home away from home hotel bar Sugar at the East hotel (where I go with work) for a spectacular harbour view and a glass of time or two.

    We attempted to watch the nightly Symphony of Lights show but couldn't even get close to a view so went to Caliente for Mexican food and beers. Highlights included free tequila and a drunk woman spilling a drink just after the previous one she had got wiped up from her clumsy hands. That makes it sound like a lame night but it very much wasn't.

    It was a less blog exciting, more consumption heavy day if I'm honest and to top it off Matt's found a channel showing the Man U game... Fun stat, we've walked 56.6km since we got to HK which has maybe burnt off one dinner. Maybe.
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  • Day1

    We're here! Day one sees us in Hong Kong. My 2nd city (though that still doesn't mean I have a sense of direction around here). After a smooth flight we taxi'd to our AirBNB. We're staying in Tsim Sha Tsui and for central HK it's a pretty standard size studio apartment and it did bring me my first comedy sign of the trip (see photos, no casual pissing please).

    When you're the partner of a horse racing nut you get used to being 'dragged' to any track in a 20 mile radius of a romantic trip even when you've been travelling for the best part of 24 hours and as Wednesday night is 'Happy Wednesday' race night it was a quick change and off to Happy Valley.

    The atmosphere at HV is amazing and I can't imagine there's many other tracks with sky scrapers as the backdrop so even as a non-better it's a fun place to check out. They also wear far jazzier silks - or as I prefer to call them, aprons. After some charades and pointing Matt managed to find the race card vending machine and after almost buying the version in Chinese was set to study form to decide (*cough* guess *cough*) who he should bet on. My preferred method is to watch the horses parade and look for the feisty ones. Sadly we had no winners and for the sake of our holiday fund called it betting quits after a couple of races and spent money on beer and dirty hot dogs instead. The hot dog at least had some greenery hidden under the suspicious cheese sauce. I'm hoping the food gets better/slightly more authentic from here...
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  • Day16

    13 hours into our massive day or so of travel .... currently testing out the comfort of the Hong Kong Airport floor ...... comfort factor .... not high ....... but content with discomfort levels are high!!🛫✈️🛬

    Flights have been great :) cool movies, good food and a bit of sleep ..... we have 6 hours to kill at HKIA and are half way there..... fed, watered now need a corner to curl up in and sleep.... Singapore Airlines has been awesome !!

    Plus I've managed to watch three grown up movies uninterrupted so I'm pretty impressed with that !
    The Lion 10/10 lots of tears
    The accountant 8/10 love Ben Affleck
    Collateral Beauty 8/10 some huge stars in this
    🕶⭐️🕶⭐️

    Chads tag along Tour take home pointers for the day :) 👍

    There is such a thing as arriving too early to check in at an airport ....... those closest to us will understand where I'm coming from with chads impeccable quest in life to arrive early to everything. 🅿️

    Wife knows more about transit then Chadwick ... so for future reference just tag along .... no need to fill out immigration cards and exit each stop along the way 😳

    Only accidentally called the hostesses three times in two flights so far :) 😲

    He paid $8 for a half scoop of movenpick ice cream and if anyone knows my Chadwick .... that won't cut it ...🤔

    And chad kindly gave me lessons on how to drink from a glass with ice ..... four failed public attempts .... sticking g with a straw now 🍸🥂🍷

    Anyhow a few laughs for us today and we are completely relaxed .... next stop 🌁🌁🌁🌁 then the real fun starts !
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  • Day3

    New lesson of the day. When you're two 'English Roses' you shouldn't wait to ask 'am I getting pink?' Before putting sun cream and a cap on even if it's shady. Especially if one of you is bald.

    We dragged out pink neck and nose out of bed after a better night's sleep for some early-ish morning Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan. Other branches of this small chain have Michelin stars making them apparently the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants in the world (we're such tourists). We were near a non-starred one so went with it. It was really delicious. Their specialist BBQ porks buns are a bargain food highlight and recommended if you're ever in HK.

    After breakfast we continued ticking off our tourist info card and went up Victoria Peak on the tram. The tram line first opened in 1888 but I think they've updated the system since then (though probably not that recently). It basically is two carriages being pulled 45degrees up Victoria Peak with a feeling something could snap any minute and send you plummeting roller coaster style to the bottom (don't worry Mum, spoiler alert, that didn't happen). At the top we checked out the slightly cloudy 428m above sea level view. I'm not sure what it is about the need to see major cities from a high point but I still buy into it every time.

    We had to cut out trip to the Peak fairly short for our afternoon plans so caught the tram back down and headed to Happy Valley to meet Matt's friend Tom who'd invited him to play football with some friends and work colleagues. I played WAG and half watched the football and half watched the kites (the bird type) circling overhead.

    We headed back to Tom's place and hung out with him and his wife Angela for a while before hitting happy hour at Saint Germain. Several wines later we went to Keung Kee restaurant for more BBQ pork, noodles and duck fried rice. Yum.

    We caught the star ferry home after some MTR disruption (can't get over the 25p bargain price). It's apparently the coolest day of winter so far in HK. At least we won't get more burnt.... wear sunscreen kids. That's almost as good as the advice I got from the Drainage Services Department today. 'Do it from the heart' they say. Whilst sorting the drains.
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  • Day403

    The first thing I saw of Hong Kong have been the countless islands. It was green around Hong Kong. The Chinese Special Administrative Zone consists not only of the high-rise buildings but of more than 260 islands, mountains and large forest areas. Only about 25 percent of the land area is cultivated, as the mountains and steep slopes make building development impossible. Around seven million inhabitants crowed on an area of around 1100qkm. That is more than 6000 per square kilometer. Most of them live in the city of Hong Kong. Here I am really surrounded by gray high-rise buildings, which sometimes represented less and less architectural masterpieces. Hong Kong is one of the cities with the highest cost of living. This makes the residential development all the more precarious. Despite a government program to create new housing (public housing), several thousand people live as so-called cage people. There are several lockable cages in one room. These housing units have a size of not more than two square meters. The rapid population growth in the 1950s was partly responsible for this development.

    Away from the houses, I am surrounded by beautiful natural forests. Almost natural. The paths are all cobbled, and every hundred yards is a sign on how to behave in the forest. The walk on top of Victoria Mountain is a welcome break to the noise and heavy traffic in the city. The platform guarantees the best view on the city and its skyline, as far as the smog allows this. With a historic cable car the steep ascent to the viewpoint can be avoided as well. Before I could enjoy the view, however, I had to fight through a multi-storey shopping centre with countless restaurants. My recovery in nature was quickly gone.

    Until 1997, Hong Kong was a british colony. But even with the union, it retained special rights. As a special administrative area, Hong Kong enjoys largely autonomy with its own political and economic system. Beijing holds the authority only in military matters and in diplomacy. With the integration, Hong Kong has triggered a catalyst effect for the entire region. The adjacent areas experienced an unprecedented economic upturn. The negative effects also included the fact that Hong Kong and the region became known for drug and human trafficking. In the collective memory of the Chinese, the defeat of the imperial empire in China against the British Empire in the first opium war (1839-42), in which China lost Hong Kong to the United Kingdom and had to open its markets and had to tolerate the opium trade – with serious effects on the Chinese history.

    Already after two days I took the express train to go to the Chinese mainland to climb in the wonderful environment of Yangshuo. Unfortunately, I only discovered too late, that there are some sports climbing areas in the mountains of Hong Kong as well.

    +++

    Das Erste was ich von Hongkong erblickte, waren die unzähligen Inseln. Es war grün um Hongkong herum. Die chinesische Sonderverwaltungszone besteht nicht nur aus Hochhäusern, sondern aus mehr als 260 Inseln, Bergen und großen Waldgebieten. Nur rund 25 Prozent der Landfläche sind bebaut, da die Berge und steilen Hänge eine Bebauung unmöglich machen. Auf einer Fläche von rund 1100qkm drängeln sich rund sieben Millionen Einwohner. Das sind mehr als 6000 pro Quadratkilometer. Die meisten leben dabei in der Stadt Hongkong. Hier bin ich wahrlich umzingelt von grauen Hochhäusern, die mal mehr mal weniger architektonische Meisterwerke darstellten. Hongkong zählt zu den Städten mit den höchsten Lebenshaltungskosten. Das macht die Wohnraumsituation umso prekärer. Trotz eines Regierungsprogrammes, neuen Wohnraum zu schaffen (public housing), leben mehrere Tausend Menschen in so genannten Käfigen (cage people). Dabei befinden sich mehrere abschließbare Käfige in einem Raum. Diese Wohneinheiten sind nicht größer als zwei Quadratmeter. Der rasante Bevölkerungszuwachs in den 50er Jahren, war mitverantwortlich für diese Entwicklung.

    Abseits von den Häusermeeren befinde ich mich in herrlichen naturbelassenen Wäldern aufhalten. Fast naturbelassen. Die Wege sind alle gepflastert und alle hundert Meter steht ein Schild, zum richtigen Verhalten im Wald. Der Weg zum Viktoria-Peak ist eine willkommene Auszeit zum Lärm und dichtem Verkehr in der Stadt. Hier gibt es eine Aussichtsplattform mit bester Sicht auf die Stadt und seine Skyline, sofern der Smog diese ermöglicht. Mit einer historischen Seilbahn kann der steile Aufstieg zum Aussichtspunkt ebenso vermieden werden. Bevor ich allerdings die Aussicht genießen konnte, musste ich mich durch ein mehrstöckiges Einkaufszentrums mit unzähligen Restaurants kämpfen. Meine Erholung in der Natur war damit schnell Zunichte gemacht.

    Hongkong war bis 1997 eine britische Kolonie. Doch selbst mit der Vereinigung behielt es besondere Rechte. Als Sonderverwaltungszone genießt Hongkong weitestgehend Autonomie mit einem eigenen politischen und ökonomischen System. Lediglich in militärischen Angelegenheiten und in der Diplomatie hält Peking die Hoheit. Mit der Eingliederung hat Hongkong einen Katalysatoreffekt für die gesamte Region ausgelöst. Die angrenzenden Gebiete erlebten einen ungeahnten wirtschaftlichen Aufschwung. Zu den negativen Effekten zählte aber auch, dass Hongkong und die Region bekannt wurde für Drogen- und Menschenhandel. Dies ist nicht das erste mal das Hongkong im Zentrum des Drogenhandles steht. Im kollektiven Gedächtnis der Chinesen steht insbesondere die Niederlage des Kaiserreiches Chinas gegen das britische Empire im ersten Opiumkrieg (1839-42), bei dem China Hongkong an das Vereinigte Königreich verlor und seine Märkte öffnen und den Opiumhandel dulden musste – mit schwerwiegenden Auswirkungen auf die chinesische Geschichtsschreibung.

    Bereits nach zwei Tagen fahre ich mit dem Schnellzug auf das chinesische Festland, um in der wundervollen Umgebung von Yangshuo zu klettern. Leider habe ich erst zu spät erfahren, dass es in den Bergen Hongkongs einige Sportklettergebiete gibt.
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  • Day2

    So things I've learnt about the apartment we're staying in. It's somewhere in the vicinity of a late night karaoke establishment. And that this plus the time zone change does not lend itself to the best night's sleep. That being said we still made it out by 9am to get the MTR to Lantau Island and catch the bus to the Big Buddha (via Starbucks. Standard.) It was an interesting up and down through the mountains bus ride on seats ill designed for a 6 foot brick house but we made it in one piece and early enough to beat the big crowds which came later.

    When they say Big Buddha they're not exaggerating - - though I very much enjoy the large list of qualification adjectives to give it the title of 'largest outdoor sitting bronze Buddha'. It's 34 metres tall and sitting on a stone building/altar which is sitting on top of a hill. There were a lot of stairs. 268 stairs a lot. Despite the necessary exercise it's one of my favourite HK tourist spots though and interesting to learn about how it was cast and transported.

    After the much easier downstairs walk we encountered some of the local wildlife include free roaming cows stealing apples and dogs that I thought were dead but were just sun bathing. We walked about the small temples of the Po Lin monastery which housed some beautiful gold buddhas. There was incense being lit everywhere and drums being banged. Very serene and peaceful, even with Matt having a go on the drum.

    Lunch was..... ambiguous. The cafe at the monastery is vegetarian only and as everything else had fungus in the name we went for a 'mixed vegetarian.' I still could not tell you what any of the components were but it was very tasty. One thing was curry flavoured, one sweet and the other again ambiguous.

    We continued exploring the site including the Wisdom Path and an abandoned wreck of a tea garden. I even found a geocache to my great geeky delight. After the excitement of that we caught the bus to Tai O, a fishing village not far away. Man was there a lot of dried fish. And more sleeping dogs (not dried or dead). Plus some cool houses on stilts. I took us on a bit of an adventure wandering through the village with the fake confidence of someone who has no idea where they're going or if they're trespassing but luckily we made it back to the bus stop without being arrested.

    In the evening we grabbed some lunch at a cafe and took the Star Ferry across the harbour and back. Hopefully at some point Matt will learn that it's winter in Hong Kong and chilly in the evenings before Starbucks bankrupts us.
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  • Day76

    Our penultimate blog - don't worry blog fans, yesterday might have felt like the last day but there's 2 more fun days of semi-transit to write about before the bitter end!

    We started our Monday adventure at Brisbane airport where their free wifi log in page told me that I don't have a valid first name. So I changed it to a stereotypical old school Aussie name, Sharon, and it worked. (Yes slow day)

    Matt's highlight of the day was at security. A guy a few in front of us pulled a bottle of wine out of his carry on and put it into a tray whilst the rest of the queue giggled knowing that would be a no no. Then a few loose pills fell out on to the counter cueing more giggles. Obviously the wine was binned. And I think it's probably a story where you had to be there.

    I ate a classic sausage, egg and chips breakfast, bought an eye liner - well we did have $30 to spend - and then it was time to board the Quantas.

    The flight was really good. I like long day flights, an excuse to watch films without pressure to sleep. Our choices below with critique:

    Helen
    - Edge of Seventeen - I enjoyed it. Similar tone to Juno. Funny.
    - Arrival - Excellent, if a little confusing. I did take a nap part way through. I cried twice.
    - Lion - Matt and I watched at the same time. Excellent again and I cried three times. I'd blame the emotion of flight but I'd have cried on the ground too. The little boy in it was excellent.
    - Singin' In The Rain - Cause I've never actually seen it that I remember! Very good, not the story I imagined, for some reason I thought it was sad.

    Matt
    - Arrival - Good, lost its way towards the end.
    - Room - Good, better than expected.
    - Lion - Really good, but unfortunately got something in his eye towards the end 😉

    Hong Kong arrival all smooth. Our hotel is on Hollywood Road and has a weird Hollywood theme - see photos. There is however a choice of firm and soft pillows for our last hotel night. Then again the Premier Inn has that.

    We went to watch the Light Show after missing it when we were here in February. I did warn Matt it was a tad underwhelming. It's cheesy but entertaining. My favourite bit is when they introduce the buildings at the start 'FINANCIAL TOWER 2' *quick light flash* 'FINANCIAL TOWER 1 ' *quick light flash* and so on. I love the sky line so always worth it for me.

    Dinner was the tapas restaurant I went to for my birthday last year and a Tesco buying trip favourite, Iberico. The manchego and black pudding potato bombas were excellent in particular. But all good, none of it made me cry. We had a couple of drinks before heading to bed watched over by creepy mirror Hollywood stars ready for our last day.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hongkong, Hong Kong, ሆንግ ኮንግ, هونغ كونغ, Honk Konq, Гон-Конг, Хонконг, হংকং, ཧོང་ཀོང༌།, Hong Kong S.A.R., Tseina, ཧོང་ཀོང, Hɔng Kɔng nutome, Χονγκ Κονγκ, هنگ‌کنگ, Hong Cong, હોંગ કોંગ, הונג קונג, हाँग काँग, 香港, ჰონგ კონგი, Гонконг (арнайы әкімшілік аймақ), ហុងកុង, ಹಾಂಗ್ ಕಾಂಗ್, 홍콩, ຮ່ອງກົງ, Honkongas, Honkonga, Хонг Конг, ഹോങ് കോങ്, हाँगकाँग, Ħong Kong, ဟောင်ကောင်, हङकङ, ହଂକଂ ବିଶେଷ ପ୍ରଶାସନିକ କ୍ଷେତ୍ର ଚୀନ୍, Regiun d'administraziun speziala da Hongkong, China, Гонконг, හොංකොං, ஹாங்காங், హాంగ్ కాంగ్, ฮ่องกง, Hongi Kongi, Гонконґ, ہانگ کانگ, Hồng Kông, i-Hong Kong