Monday, November 07, 2011

Walk On, Hong Kong

Towards the end of our trip, and since we've returned, people have asked which stop was our favourite, and the answer is the same for both Andy and I: Hong Kong.  It was interesting, cheap, and easy to get around.  The public transport system made sense. The food was good (so good, in fact, that I will feature it in a post or two of its own).  The people were friendly enough, with people approaching us to ask if we needed help on the more than regular occasions that we looked lost.  The city was beautiful, the harbour was a great feature, and everything was cheap!

Only, when I think back to the specifics, it was crowded, and hot, and we got lost many times each day.  As great as the public transit system is, it took us a while to fully sort it out.  That, and we were touristing, so we wanted to see as much as we could.  So we walked.  A lot. More than was probably smart to do.  We did see a lot, but we had tired, sore legs.

We first got lost the moment we got off the bus from the airport.  We knew our hotel was only a minute or two from the stop, but we didn't know in which direction.  So we walked, at about 9pm, through what we later discovered is Hong Kong's funeral district.  When we found our hotel, the Bridal Tea House Wuhu Street, we were a little trepidatious.  After the 8 hour flight, and a half hour of walking around, we were hoping for some comfort, but all the guidebooks and internet reviews kept our hopes for any Hong Kong accommodation low.  But, we found that our room was clean, comfortable, and absolutely what we needed.  The shower was good, the bed was too short for Andy but at least had space for his feet to hang over the edge.  And the air conditioning proved a life saver, even for two Townsvillains who smugly refuse to use aircon at home.

We did loads of things in Hong Kong.  I'll start with Kowloon, the second-citiest part of the city, across the harbour from Hong Kong Island.  This is where our accommodation was, and where loads of backpacker rooms can be found.  It's also home to the Gold Fish markets, a strip of two blocks or so of non-stop pet shops.  Most were centred around fish tanks, and they tended to specialise - in aquarium equipment, or plants, or, most strikingly, fish.  The freshwater fish were often pre-bagged, ready for quick sale.

The tiny turtles (and also tortoises) clambered over one another in tanks open on the street.

And the marine fish were abundant, and cheap - clownfish selling for the equivalent of AU$4.

Something we learned the hard way: the Gold Fish markets (and the Jade Markets, for that matter) don't start early.  On our first morning, we woke up early due to time zone changes.  Andy seemed to remember that these markets were best early in the day, so off we trekked (taking goodness knows how many wrong turns on the way).  But they were totally empty.  When we came back at 3pm, it was a totally different scene.  In fact, we learned that Hong Kong in general sleeps in quite late.  Most shops open at 10, 11 or 12, but they stay open until midnight.

As a vegan and a crowd-hater, though, I was much more comfortable in the little produce market we found (oddly, flanked by gun shops).

We also made a habit, throughout our trip, of visiting grocery stores in every place.  This was for practicality (buying food) as much as for sight-seeing.

We weren't brave enough to try the wolfberry & white fungus flavoured instant oatmeal.
But we were taken with the "No Frills Brand" peanut butter - we ate this whole jar in 4 days.

Mainly, though, it was about the skyline, especially from Tsim Sha Tsui.
And sitting at Central Pier on Hong Kong Island at sunset was pretty stunning, too.

Now, I have plenty more to share, but I will save the rest for another post.


K said...

So glad you both loved Hong Kong. I think its the type of city that you either love or hate. For me it was both, after living there for a year but I will always have a special place for it because thats where I met Toby and where he grew up. As for the tired feet, even when I visit now I have the same issues, but feet massages are a life saver, such a shame you didn't take them up on their offer.

Toby said...


Things are cheap in HK but hotels/hostels are quite dear.

I miss Hong Kong!

Looking forward to read about food!

Hannah said...

My parents went to Hong Kong this year and loved it! Can't wait to see more, as I've never been. In fact, I've never been to a single country that could be described as cheap. Hmmm.... methinks some travel planning should be in my future ;)

Kari said...

What a great overview of the city - I've never been either and I am impressed at how much it seems to contain. I wasn't expecting turtles that is for sure! I hope your legs are recovering :)

Nadine said...

amazing skyline! Glad you had such a good time - looking forward to all the food posts! :)

Dee said...

Disappointed we don't get an oatmeal review! I would definitely give it a try, I like weird breakfast. Hong Kong is now on the bucket list, looked fabulous.

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