Published: January 26th 2010January 21st 2010
We were crossing the border into Hong Kong and someone was holding a "YUM" sign.....I said, there am!!! haha
We arrived in Hong Kong around 8:30pm on December 23rd, 2009. I was travelling with Rebecca and Fran, and we took a bus from Shenzhen airport to cross the border to Hong Kong. The bus was pretty painless, although we did have to take our luggage with us every time we switched buses (there were 3 in total by the time we got there). We hopped in a taxi to find my friend’s flat. She is currently teaching in Hong Kong and offered it to us while she was home in Canada for the Christmas holiday. The location was perfect! It was right in the middle of Causeway Bay. It took us a few loops around the building to figure out where the entrance was, but we finally did find it! The apartment was small, but perfect for two people. I heard that kitchens in Hong Kong were small, but Fran actually measured the working space with her feet and it was 3 by 3 feet. We dropped our bags and went out looking for something to eat. We ended up at a Thai restaurant which had good food and great service. The next day we headed out to Lantau
Island to see the world’s biggest Buddha. We took the cable car, which was surprisingly easier than I had anticipated. I am not a fan of heights for those of you who did not know. But the cable car was very smooth and the ride lasted for about 15 minutes. Once we reached the top, we could see the Big Buddha in the distance. There was a small tourist area with shops and restaurants that led the way to the Buddha. We also visited a Temple which was filled with beautiful smelling flowers. There was a bit of a climb to reach the top of the Buddha- maybe about 100 steps. Inside the base of the Buddha were museum like displays explaining the heritage of Buddha as well as an area to honour and remember people who have passed away. I found this to be interesting because it looked like their family members had purchased a small piece of stone and had their picture and message printed and put up on the wall. After the Buddha we took a bus down the mountain and decided to make a quick pit stop for the ladies room before getting back on the
This is where our bus dropped us off. Good thing we had an address because I did not know where I was!
subway train. Most of you won’t be surprised when I say this resulted in several shopping bags each and 2 hours later. Of course it was “my fault” because it was my idea to go to the bathroom! We raced to see the Symphony of Lights, which is held on the harbor front every night. When we got to the subway exit it was a sea of people going every way possible. This seemed a little strange, but we chalked it up to being Christmas Eve. Street level gave us a shock that I know I will never forget! The streets were closed and it was literally people everywhere you looked. We could barely walk because we had to dodge all the people. When we finally made it to the harbor front there was a huge crowd of people there to see the lights and the show was coming to an end. Once some of the people left we could get to the front to take some pictures. Afterwards we ventured through the crowds to get some dinner. We ate a Chinese restaurant (not our first choice) but we took it because we did not need a reservation. Before we
My friend left us stockings and a mini tree to decorate.
knew it it was already 10:30pm and we wanted to make it a nearby church for the 11pm Candlelight service. We decided it would be best to go into a hotel and ask which way to go. This is where we FINALLY discovered the reason for the 7 million people on the streets. The man at the desk told us it was for the Christmas Eve Countdown. Who knew that Hong Kong celebrated for Christmas like this….we did not.
we walked through the streets on our way to the church on Nathan street, but were stopped several times to catch a glimpse of all the excitement. People were caroling, every age and race was walking around the streets, people even had their dogs out dressed in Santa costumes.
We finally made it to the church and they escorted us to the entrance. By this time, it was 11pm on the dot, and I still do not know how we made it inside the church. They had 3 seats left….that was it? So they ushered us to the front left (where the people speaking were sitting) shopping bags and all. Yes, we STILL were carrying these shopping bags with us. We
were all sure we had “shopping shoulder” but this point in the night. After the service the streets were still crowded with people (at about 12:30 am). We stopped in to McDonalds next door for a snack and it was not only a huge store, but it was packed to capacity. I have never seen anything like it in my life. The best part about McDonalds was the guys selling Santa hats on the street, were counting their money on the table beside us. Fran, aka the Paparazzi, snapped a couple photos.
We headed home on the subway, because they were running it for 24 hours that night. So fantastic!
The next day was Christmas morning and we were off to a half day tour of Hong Kong that started at 8:50am. We went on a tour bus with about 15 other foreigners. The tour took us to the Aberdeen harbor where we went on a San pan boat, which actually has been running in this harbor for many years. The harbor is a community of people who make a living by fishing. They live on their boats year round and over the years the community has gotten smaller and
smaller since the younger generations prefer to have a stable income, rather than relying on fishing as a way of life. We also visited a local jewelry manufacturer. We had a very “enlightening” speech prior to viewing their Show room, which showcased over 10,000 pieces of handcrafted jewelry. I have to say, the jewelry was beautiful and unique. The price of most things was a lot cheaper than it would be in cad dollars. But I decided against buying anything because that could be a flight to somewhere else. They took us to Stanley Market, which was pretty interesting. They gave us an hour to shop around and we barely made it past the first 2 streets. There was so much to see that you would have to spend more than one day exploring. Finally we went to Victoria Peak, which overlooks most of the HK harbor. The bus took us to the top and we took the tram down. The tram was a little different because it goes down the mountain backwards! While it is going down you are looking forwards.
After the tour we went back to the apartment for a much needed cat nap. We were on
the go again….we took a double-decker bus back to the Aberdeen area for our Christmas dinner reservation at Top Deck on the JUMBO floating restaurant. The boat has a shuttle service to take you across the water from the dock. The boat was all lit up and looked really nice. We sat on the TOP DECK of the boat, overlooking the harbor. There was a set menu for dinner, but I chose the sea bass. When I was looking over the menu I stopped when I read “Pigeon consommé”. I asked Rebecca and Fran…..like pigeon, pigeon? They said yes, we think so. This turned into a good laugh because I had visions of the pigeons I see on the streets, but they enlightened me that these were bread just for eating. Who knew? It actually tasted pretty good.
After dinner is where the night got interesting. Fran and I decided to head out to the Central area to hit up a bar for dancing, and poor Rebecca headed back home because she was not feeling the best. We found a great little place called Tonic right in the middle of everything. When we got home I was on my way
to bed and the next thing I know Rebecca is awake and running to the bathroom. Let’s just say there was a bit of a mess to clean up, and thank god Fran was there to do it. The situation became quite comical because it was now 4 in the morning and the bed sheets were going into the washing machine. All of a sudden Fran noticed that there was water leaking onto the kitchen floor, coming from the washer. I just happened to be talking to my friend online (who lived in the apartment). It turns out we were not supposed to use the washer because it was broken!!! Now what? Fran used a bucket to scoop out all the water and Rebecca mopped up the water on the floor. The sheets ended up going to a dry cleaner the next day.
Saturday was a marathon of shopping. We literally shopped till we dropped. I am sure that shopping is a sport in Hong Kong. I felt like I was running a marathon and I could not stop. We visited several markets; my favourite was the ladies market in Mongkok. When we surfaced form the subway our faces said
it all. I think my jaw hit the ground. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen. There were crowds of people everywhere and stores lining the streets. There is a street just for birds (which we did not make it to see). A Street of electronics, you name it, it was there. We ended up closing the market down, it closes around 12 pm and we were there watching the vendors taking down their stalls.
Sunday was our last day in HK and we had to board the bus to cross the border around 1pm, so there was not much time to do anything. Almost instantly after crossing over the border to mainland China….it was a “we are back moment” for all of us. It was unbelievable how quickly it was noticeable we had left HK. There was problem boarding the last bus to the airport because people had too much luggage stored under the bus. There was no more room for the last couple people to sit, because luggage was taking up space on the bus. They had to get off the bus and wait for the next one? This is China (TIC). Next there was an
accident on the ramp to the airport, so our bus was stuck behind it in the bus lane. And once we were all checked in, we realized we had time to spare and we were all hungry. Do you think we could find something to eat other than Chinese snacks or gross Chinese food? No. until, we had the bright idea of walking to the International departures terminal…..and there it was!!!! STARBUCKS! Our saving grace. “It is worth the drive to Acton”, well it was worth the walk to Starbucks!
Our flight ended up being delayed more than once, so we did not get back to Shanghai until around 10pm.
There are more photos below