HK waterfront at its best.
Awesome waterfront views in downtown HK.
Day 68 - to HK
Right, after a week of amazing sights, running around, heat and great food it was finally time to leave Beijing. We really loved it here and definitely one of our favourite spots so far. Never did try the fried Scorpion, Grasshoppers or any of the other delicacies, probably a good thing in hindsight!
Today we had a 24hr train which would cover some 2000 Kms to Hong Kong, unfortunately there was no time to visit other sites in China. We would have loved to go to Xian to see the Terracotta warriors but after looking at the route we would have to take decided against it, Shanghai was another option but we dismissed this with the Expo that was on everything was pricey.
We had to check in some 90 minutes before departure to go through the departure formalities which we have never come across before. This was presumably because we were exiting China. It took all of 5 minutes or less for this to take place and then we were stuck unable to go anywhere, no shops and it was stinking hot in the train with no AC going. Tip: 90 minutes
Star Ferry to HK Island
Nice journey, all of 8 minutes for 2 bucks.
is a bit over the top, 30 should be fine
We were this time in a cabin for 6 people, 3 chinese, a brit and us. Also there were no doors on the compartments either so was thinking we would not get much sleep. They were however quite roomy bunks and very comfortable but we took the top bunks which was SO high we struggled to get up there. Also with the AC going directly at us it was freezing so in future I would probably opt for the middle bunk, nobody would sit on your bunk (like they do when you are on the lower bunk) and it is not to far to climb.
The train compared to the likes of the Russian & Chinese ones was probably a step up and probably the 3rd class in this train was the equivilent of 2nd on either the Russian or Chinese trains. Got to know the brit and a guy from Finland who was next to us over the coming hours before the lights went out at like 22:13! Strange time but no choice we had attempt to go to sleep.
and thought it was be pretty late as the sun was beating in through our cabin and the chinese people seemed to be have been up chatting for hours! Not a lot of sleep but got straight into some cereal for breakfast and prepared for our arrival in the next few hours.
We arrived late I think, somewhere around 13:30 to a busy HK main station. Customs procedures were again pretty swift and we were out and finding the metro in no time. We ended up going to Mongkok which is in the Kowloon area (not on HK island) to our accommodation and the brit joined us. This is the most popular area of HK and most central. I would probably recommend this area rather than staying on the actual HK island where you have to travel everywhere. The finnish guy coincidentally enough happened to be going to Bangkok in a couple of days as we were, on the exact same flight! So we would be seeing him again soon.
We immediately felt the difference in humidity once out of the Metro in central HK. We were all dripping with sweat within minutes as we lugged our bags
Streets of HK Island
Totally into the World Cup here!
around looking for our room. When we eventually found it it was in in a big apartment style building on like the 14th floor. The location was brilliant just a few steps away from Nathan Road which is where it all happens. These buildings are common in HK and basically contain many hostels, guesthouses, eateries etc. They do not look like much from the outside though! Our room was of course without a window as is often the case in HK where space is at a premium. We complained long and hard and got upgraded (still no window) but better room
Decided to take a look to see what was around us once we were settled, but if you don't like Oxford street in London then maybe you should give HK a miss! Every street was like it, could not move quickly and everywhere was just rammed with people. I kind of liked it though where as Ania definitley did not! Hopefully it was some sort of rushour and not always like this I doubt it? Anyway we got lunch and then checked out some shops, just so you know HK is like right up there for electronics
Pretty steep incline taking us 400metres up.
and computer shops. They are just everywhere and all the sellers are pretty much willing to bargain. If you need something for your camera, a new Ipod, Laptop then it is the place to look. You have to be wary of dodgy sellers though and go to reputable places. The Mongkok Computer centre is like 7 floors of exactly that, computers, cameras, phones etc and is full of locals. Great place to find a bargain
Anyway later on we went out with the brit (his name was Jason actually) and grabbed some food at a local restaurant. Have to say it just OK, nothing special but at least you do not have to worry as much with eating dog, cat, heart etc like in China! Also it is not that expensive to eat out if you look around, beers were about $18 HK which is prob £1.50 or so and the food was not bad either around £7 per person. I know everything you read or hear says HK is super expensive (well it is up in the top 10 of the most expensive cities in the world) you can definitley find reasonable priced food and accomodation as
Pic from the top, thunder outside..
well. (just do not expect a window!)
Back to our box of a room for sleep..
Day 70 - Around HK
As it was our only full day in HK we had a lot planned, basically wanted to buy a lens for my camera as was some 30% cheaper here than uk,(probably even more than NZ!) and then walk down to the waterfront, skoot over to the island by ferry and get up to the top of Victoria peak and then walk around the old town. Not much aye? Also there is a light show every night at 20:00 near the waterfront where basically all the skyscrapers light up and blink together, and lasers are projected into the sky. We wanted to see that as well!
After the planned shopping and impulse shopping (yes I know) we finally made it to the waterfront around lunchtime but by then the rain had come in hard and fast. We had to halt here and wait for it to receede. This time of year HK sees a lot of rain, already we had had several downpours since we arrived. Normally they are short and sweet though and the hot
HK under seige
Thnderstorms hit when we got up to Victoria Peak.
weather immediately comes back!
Soon we were boarding the Star Ferry, this cost a whopping $2 HK and is an absolute bargain and probably the best thing to do in HK. You cross the magnificient harbour over to the Island and you can see all the massive skyscrapers surrounding you, great thing to do. Only thing is it is such a short ferry ride, like 8 minutes. Still you gotta do it rather than take the boring metro.
Once there we did a bit of a walking tour around old HK but it is really hilly and in the end we honestly did not see much in the way of old buildings or anything. There was one temple but not much else, so basically we skipped the rest and went straight for the Peak Tram. This takes you up a horrendous inclide to the top of Victoria hill. It is great old tram too and definitley better than taking the bus. We also planned to walk down one of the trails to get better pictures. (also it is seemed expensive like $25 HK one way each, looking back though that is still only like £3!)
Taken in the heavy rain
Braved the rain with camera in hand for this, best I could do :)
top it was kind of misting, very strange type of rain and we thought it was great and took some pictures. 5 minutes later another downpour, perfect timing we thought just as we got to the top everything clouded over and there was a huge thunderstorm and we got drenched to the bone. You can see from my attempted pictures of HK city there were some serious black clouds there. Shame really as I wanted to go higher as there is a cable car or walk that can get you even higher for unobstructed views of the city.
So there we were waiting for the rain to stop, it also meant walking down was out of the question as was any chance of decent photographs. Bugger oh well we had to take the bus down so in the end cost us pretty much the same as the Peak Tram
Got the star ferry back over to Kowloon and raced to an indian restaurant in one of the huge mansions on Nathan Road. (there are many indian restaurants in here) Basically it was getting close to 8pm and we needed to be back by the waterfront in like
45 minutes. SO after rushing through a excellent and inexpensive Indian curry we were back at the waterfront where the lights had already started. Check out the pictures, unfortuntately as there were still some clouds you could not quite make out the lasers, still it was an impressive show that lasted about 15 minutes I reckon. Also it is beautiful down there walking around the harbour at night, everthing looks spectacular and reminds me a little of Singapore.
Then did even more shopping on the long trek back to our hostel before sleeping. They just never close these shops it seems, like 11pm and still the shops were open! Got ready for our flight tomorrow morning to Bangkok.
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