How can you tell you have left India and arrived in Hong Kong???? Well for starters, we have walked all day and our feet are still clean, there are no barking dogs and we are freezing – especially when the air conditioning (which is on everywhere!) is so cold that it cools the pavements outside the big stores. However, the biggest difference is the pedestrian traffic. Yes, there were crowds in India, but they all went with the flow, walking at the same pace and in a straight line. Here in HK, it is like each person is all alone (in their minds anyway) on the street and so they meander all over, stop whenever they feel like it and changing directions abruptly. However, after a day here, we have come to realise there is something worse than a crowded pedestrian street in HK and that is a crowded street in HK when it is raining – now there are deadly umbrellas added to the mix!!!!
We are staying in the Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon at a great little hotel where the room is actually a decent size. The streets are a mix of old shops and extremely
high end shopping malls. After spending the afternoon marveling at all the designer wear and jewellery (and wondering who could afford it) in the luxury stores, we went up to the Temple Street night market. Lots of small stalls selling both tourist stuff (mahjong sets, charms etc) and junk as well as small food stalls. As we were hesitating, a very aggressive lady convinced us that we should eat at her place – so we sat down at a table on the street and had very delicious garlic prawns and bbq pork.
Getting around Hong Kong is a breeze because of their subway system – the MRT. We had purchased a 3 day tourist pass which included a trip to and from the airport so we just had to scan our card whenever we wanted to go on the MRT – no extra money was involved. The cost of buses was not included so we had to add more money to the card when we caught the bus to Stanley Market. Any unused $$$ is refunded when you turn the card in at the end.
We started day 2 with a visit to Stanley Market which is located
on the south coast of Hong Kong Island. To get there we crossed over Victoria Harbour via the Star Ferry. This landmark green and white ferry company started up in 1880 and provides a great view of the skylines of both Central and Kowloon during the crossing. Victoria Harbour is wide open and as such, none of the ferry berths are very protected. The up/down motion at the dock was quite unsettling to the stomach but once we got going it was OK. Then it was off to find the bus terminal at Exchange Square and the #6 bus for the winding, hilly trip. For stomachs already reeling from the ferry ride, sitting upstairs in the double decker wasn’t the smartest move but the views of the south coast with the hidden beaches was spectacular. Stanley Market used to be a fish market but now is a great tourist stop with a covered market selling artwork, jewellery, clothing and all sorts of tourist knick knacks. It was definitely worth the visit.
After lunch we caught another bus to Aberdeen Harbour for a sampan ride among the hundreds of boats in the harbor. We probably were on the rattiest looking
sampan of the lot but it was the sights that mattered. Lots of fishing junks (which are still home to many people), 2 huge floating restaurants and tall skyscrapers providing a background in every direction.
By now our feet were getting a little tired so it was back to Central (by taxi this time) and a reflexology foot massage at Fun Feet. It felt good afterwards, but it sure hurt during the massage. My whining generated no sympathy at all.
Day 3 in Hong Kong started with us wanting Dim Sum. In a city of a thousand restaurants that shouldn’t have been a problem. First we asked the hotel doorman where we could go. He gave us vague directions on a hotel map and after walking the two blocks, we couldn’t see anything that wasn’t a BBQ pork place. After asking at another hotel, we got sent down a few more streets and although we were standing “across from the 7 eleven” as directed, there was no restaurant that we could see. Then all of a sudden, a large group of people came along and got into an elevator in the open lobby where we were standing. That
looked promising so we got in with them and sure enough, there on the “floor 3” button was the place we wanted!!!! Good advertising.
Then it was off for a day of exploring. First stop on the list was the Buddhist Tin Hau Temple in Yau Ma Tei, about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. The feature here is the huge hanging coils of burning incense and luckily I got a few photos before the “no photograph” sign was pointed out. Continuing up Shanghai street there was the goldfish market which is a couple of blocks of small stores selling every type of aquarium dweller imaginable. We watched one fellow spend an intolerable amount of time try to catch that one special fish from a tank full of identical siblings.
Walking through the flower market took us to the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden where the locals not only bring their song birds for a daily outing but you can purchase cages and birds. The most fascinating part of this market was the bird food section – not bags of seed as we would expect but live fodder which ranged from bags of crickets, maggots, larva, worms
to disgusting looking little white frogs.
Then it was time to give the feet a break and catch the MRT to Wong Tai Sin so we could visit the Sik Sik Yeun Wong Temple, a spectacularly colorful temple that preaches three traditional religions – Taoism, Buddhism and Confusianism. The main courtyard contained statues of the Chinese Zodiac and it took us some time but we eventually found the descriptions that corresponding to years of birth so we could make use of this unique photo opportunity. I am the Year of the Horse, whereas Kelly is the Tiger.
Back in Tsim Sha Tsui it was time for food again, We had been eyeing up some of the corner stalls that had delicious looking food. But on closer inspection we learnt that all the yummy looking items were in fact made from animal internal organs. No thanks. So it was back to one of the small restaurants near the hotel where we had some chicken with our chillies – seriously, way more chillies than chicken.
No visit to Hong Kong is complete without a visit to the Peak and fortunately for us, the next day dawned sunny with very
high clouds so it was the ideal time. This time we took the MRT under the harbor to Central Station and then walked the short distance (uphill) to the Peak tram. The tram was first started in 1888 and covers a distance of 1.4 with a height difference of 400 m. Looking at earlier photos it travelled up an open hillside, now it is highrises that provide the scenery. Once up the top we escaped from the main building and went on the hour long Hong Kong Trail which circumnavigates the Peak and gave spectacular views of the city. Looking down onto skyscrapers is a unique perspective with major wow factors at all the viewpoints.
We didn’t have time to dilly dally as we were catching an afternoon flight to Beijing.
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