With only a few days off from work we decided to hop over to Hong Kong and spend New Year with some of our friends from Australia. Getting off the plane in Hong Kong was such a welcomed relief from Vietnam, suddenly we were back into a developed country where they people were so polite, the place was so clean, crossing the road wasn’t life or death and the air felt fresh!
The one thing that Andy and I both noticed a lot about Hong Kong was just how many public service messages there were. Everywhere you turned there was a message telling you how you should behave, what’s expected from you and suggestions about what you should do in certain circumstances. It was EVERYWHERE although it didn’t feel like it was too in your face. The people of Hong Kong seemed to really pay attention, especially when it came to waiting for the green man when crossing the road!! Maybe it was just because we had come from Vietnam, but it made the whole place a haven of polite, well-mannered, non queue skipping citizens!
With so much to see and so little time to see it we decided to hop on the Big Bus Tour which would take us around the 2 big islands in Hong Kong: Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It was about $40 but included tickets for The Peak, ferries and queue skips to certain places which turned out to be a lifesaver!!
The bus dropped us off first at the “Avenue of Stars” which is the walk way surrounding the sea front on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, the avenue is dedicated to famous Chinese stars and while you might not recognize all of them it was fun going around all the plaques trying to find the ones we did know! The avenue is most famous for it’s sculpture of Bruce Lee which is hard to miss as it is always mobbed by tourists all trying to recreate his pose… Andy included! The sculpture has an amazing backdrop and I think you would have to come VERY early to get a picture minus the tourists!
Walking along the avenue we came to the harbor where we jumped on the famous Star Ferry to get over to Hong Kong Island, it runs between the two islands constantly throughout the day and only takes about 10 minutes to cross. Although you can take the MRT over the star ferry gives you an awesome view of the famous skyline that Hong Kong is known for.
Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers in the world with over 8,000 and rising… FAST second is New York with only half of this! Everywhere you look skyscrapers loom overhead and not just your bog standard sky scrapers these are works of art which have lights outlining them to make a spectacular scene at night. What makes them even more impressive is the way in which they are built! All over Hong Kong you will notice the bamboo scaffolds which they still use, even to build the biggest of buildings! They explained to us that it was extremely cheap, environmentally friendly and safe… I was not too sure!
We decided to jump off the bus first at Victoria Peak one of Hong Kong’s most famous attractions, and you could tell. The line zig-zagged all through the inside then round the corner and up the street, as Andy and I were starting to weigh up whether it was worth waiting or not the bus conductor told us our tickets meant we could go right to the front of the queue meaning we missed about an hour of standing outside in the cold!! Result!! The Peak Tram is an attraction in itself. It has been running for more than 100 years and is unbelievably steep!!! The views are incredible, although standing is almost impossible with the angle of the tram so defiantly try to get a seat!
Victoria Peak was not what we were expecting, we both thought it would just be the top of a ‘peak’ which would serve as a lookout point however what we found was a lookout point with a 3 story shopping mall which leads to an observation deck giving you what I can only imagine was amazing views of the city. As luck would have it the day we went up there was almost zero visibility meaning we could see to the nearest tree and that was about it!!
To compensate we decided to go into the Trick Eye Museum which was located on the 3rd floor. It was actually the same company that operated the trick eye museum we went into in Seoul but none the less we decided to have a go. These museums are great fun and as you follow the instructions on the floor and the marks on where to stand with your camera you can place yourself into a painting! It was all good fun and made it worthwhile coming to the top!
We hopped back onto the bus and rode around taking in the sites that Hong Kong had to offer stopping off at some of the famous markets that are around Hong Kong as well as the ‘mid level escalators’, the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. (To be honest it was just escalators and after about 200 meters we jumped off and back on the bus!) As we stopped off at the harbor ready to jump on the third line we thought we would have a look at the carnival that was in town and accidentally spent so long-playing about that we missed the last bus on the third tour!! Ooops!! The third part of the tour took us round to the Stanley Markets and Aberdeen where we would have been able to go on a Sampan Ride. (The traditional old style fishing boats) To be honest I was so exhausted by this point I’s had enough!
We headed back to Kowloon and went to see the “Symphony of lights” which happens on the sea front every evening at 8pm. The Symphony of lights is billed as one of the most impressive laser/light shows around and after waiting with massive crowds (Going early is a must!) the light show started and… well… I was VERY disappointed! I think it was all due to the weather which had clouds hanging very low in the sky making it possibly the worst conditions for lasers and lights!! I am sure if you went on a clear night it would be amazing!!
We hopped off the bus finally at the Temple Street market and found a stall that did some dim sum where we had an awesome meal of noodles, BBQ pork buns, spring rolls and all sorts of things I don’t know the names of! The whole meal was surprisingly cheap at $54 HK$ which is only about $7.50! Result! We really expected Hong Kong to be expensive however we were surprised at just how cheap meals and transport were!
The day was exhausting and by the end of it we both fell into bed and fell into a deep sleep ready for the next day at Ocean Park.