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Published: July 14th 2016
Chungking Mansions is a popular place to stay for budget tourists since there are many cheap hotels there
From high skyscrapers to low houses on stilts
We have now finished the second and final blog entry from our vacation in March, in which we have collected photos from Hong Kong.
We arrived in Hong Kong early in the morning and took a taxi from the airport to Kowloon and the hotel where we had decided to stay our first night. This particular hotel was located on the top floor of Chungking Mansions
Chungking Mansions is a popular place to stay for budget tourists since there are many cheap hotels there. There are probably more than 100 hotels in the same building. Pretty much the entire building is divided in small units and each unit is a hotel or a guesthouse. Chungking Mansions has a reputation of being extremely rundown and filthy but also being the cheapest accommodation in the city. We found it to be neither dirty nor run down however. Simple and without luxury, but perfectly acceptable if all you need is a place to sleep. But then, there are at least 99 other hotels in the same building so there might be others having a lower standard than the
Pretty much the entire building is divided in small units and each unit is a hotel or a guesthouse. There are probably more than 100 hotels in the same building. Here you see the names of about 20 of them.
one we stayed in. When we booked our flight tickets to Hong Kong we decided to stay at least one night in Chungking Mansions simply because it is one of those things you have to do.
Another thing we felt was compulsory to do on this trip was to see the Hong Kong skyline at night. We walked down to the southern tip of Kowloon late in the evening and watched the skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island. Having done that this mission could have been over. However, we were lucky because on the day we were there they had put on a light show outside Hong Kong Cultural Centre. You can watch a short film we took during the show. It is only a short glimpse of one part of the light show. The part we filmed was displayed on the wall of the cultural centre. Earlier in the show they used several powerful lasers mounted on top of the skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island and coordinated their movements to music.
The Guide Michelin is French guide book which lists restaurants where the food is exceptionally good. Many of the restaurants recommended
Flamingos in Kowloon Park
there are extremely exclusive and normally we eat in other establishments. However, in Hong Kong several restaurants with a star in Guide Michelin are both affordable and accept guests wearing the kind of clothes we have when we travel. So just out of curiosity we decided to try a few Guide Michelin restaurants. We have to admit that they were not any better than other restaurants we went to. We can't see what made the authors pick those restaurants in favour of those that aren't mentioned. Kowloon Walled City
is a former district of Hong Kong which has a fascinating history. Walled cities or walled villages originated during times when the area was plagued by attacks from bandits and pirates. For protection the farmers had walls built around the villages. Even today some of these walled villages still exist. That is the walls exist but inside the walls the original houses have been torn down and replaced by more modern dwellings. The fate of Kowloon Walled City however took a very different turn from all the other walled cities in Hong Kong. For a long time Kowloon Walled City was located in a disputed area so that it was
The massive buildings Victoria Towers as seen from Kowloon Park. They are more than 200 m high
neither located in Chinese nor British territory. The lack of supervision made it attractive for shady businesses such as drug trade and prostitution. There were very few laws that regulated where you built your home or set up a business so, since space was limited and the legal vacuum being very attractive if you run a shady business, the buildings in Kowloon Walled City were erected extremely tight to maximize the use of the land. In some places, they simply added homes on top of or in between already existing buildings. Eventually the buildings in Kowloon Walled City were jammed in so tight that the entire town from the outside looked like one huge building.
The unregulated construction of buildings in Kowloon Walled City led to multiple sanitation problems. Add to this that the entire area was a fire trap and that many of the buildings were starting to sagg or tilt because when more floors were added on top of already existing buildings the original structure could not hold the weight. Authorities eventually took action against Kowloon Walled City. They evicted all residents, tore down the buildings and created a park in its place. In the
Hong Kong Street
A view of a street
park there is a model showing what Kowloon Walled City used to look like and exhibitions on how it was to live there.
If you are a fan of Star Trek you might notice that Kowloon Walled City actually looked very much like a Borg spaceship. We believe the resemblance is purely coincidental though.
In short we can also mention the following places we visited while we were in Hong Kong Tian Tan Buddha
- A large Buddha Statue on Lantau Island. The statue is one of the most important sites for Buddhists in Hong Kong. Tai O
- A fishing village on the Lantau Island. The houses in this village stands on stilts in the water. How they manage when typhoons hit the area is beyond our understanding. Kat Hing Wai Walled City
- A 15th century walled city. The city wall is at least partly the original wall but virtually none of the buildings inside the wall is older than 50 years or so. Central–Mid-Levels escalators and walkway system
- Strictly not a tourist attraction but it is mentioned in Guinness Book of World Records as "the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world"
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