Hong Kong

July 29-August 2, 2015

At the end of every school semester there is a very short summer vacation break at my school, three days short to be exact. With a 5-day break I decided last minute that I had enough cash to go somewhere close by. I put in a request to get a single-entry stamp in my passport (I was renewing my ARC work permit and didn’t have my ARC card or my passport at the time.) As soon as my vacation request was in I booked flights and a hostel for Hong Kong.

Day 1

Taichung airport, which is only a 30 minute drive from my apartment, has flights that are direct to Hong Kong International Airport. I chose that flight and drove to the airport bright and early at 5:30am. At the airport I was so tired I tried to park in the car parking lot! I had to turn around and drive a little further to park in the motorcycle parking lot. For 20NT a day it is a good deal. I ate breakfast and then boarded the plane when the time came. It was a very quick flight, one hour and ten minutes, and going through immigration in Hong Kong took less than 20 minutes. I grabbed my luggage and headed towards the airport shuttle buses. For 40HKD(5.16USD) I was shuttled almost directly in front of my hostel, YesInn @ Causeway Bay.

I'm all the way at the top!

I’m all the way at the top!

I checked in, changed into my swimsuit, and dropped off my luggage. Immediately outside the hostel door there is a bus that goes to the southern part of Hong Kong Island. For 10.8HKD (1.39) you can go to Aberdeen, Repulse Bay, or Stanley. I was headed toward Repulse Bay because I wanted to go to the beach, but I missed the stop because it wasn’t marked very clearly. Panicking slightly in my head I decided to just go all the way to Stanley and walk around. The loopy bus drive had left me not feeling very well so being out on the beach in the sun was starting to sound less appealing. I walked around Stanley Market, and ate some lunch at the New Star. My meal was 43HKD(5.55USD) and I was surrounded by local construction workers. I figured we were all there for the same reason; a lot of food for a cheap price. I continued to walk to Stanley Waterfront and Pier. I took a little stroll in the park where I saw a temple and then a small beach. It was nice, but the water was full of garbage and I wasn’t really in the mood to lay out. I sat there in my swimsuit reading my book for awhile and then got up to go. I continued to walk around some more. Both the Tin Hau Temple and the Butterfly Garden were kind of a disappointment. By this time I was very tired from lack of sleep and heat, plus there were some dark clouds rolling in with thunder in the background. I went back to the bus stop hoping that I wouldn’t get caught in the rain. It started raining when the bus rolled up so me and the line of people got on as fast as we could. Not even five minutes later it was pouring and I was a little scared of the bus skidding down the side of the hill because the water was accumulating so quickly.

Back in Causeway it was raining so much and I went back to my hostel and took a nap. A couple hours later I was up and ready to explore some more. I headed toward Victoria Park, but ended up in the small Times Square Hong Kong. This is like a small, make-shift version of New York’s Times Square. All the top brand shops are there.

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Headed towards the Causeway Bay Station I spotted an American Eagle. I never thought I would be so happy to see one, especially since I knew they would have clothes that would fit me nicely. I bought a pair of shorts and then went and purchased an Octopus Card for 150HKD (19.35USD). This would get me on and off the MTR. At Central Station I walked to an adult shop that I had found online. First stopping for dinner 39HKD (5USD).

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Sally Coco, like other shops in Hong Kong, is easy to miss if you don’t know what you are looking for. I had to go into a sketchy looking elevator to reach the store. The clerk was very nice and helpful and we had a nice little chat about differences with stores in the US, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Once I left the shop I went back to Causeway to try to find the Noonday Gun. After a lot of weaving through streets I decided to give up and just go look at the park during the sunset and then head back to my hostel. On a cross walk bridge I got to see the last of the sunset and then walked along the bay. That is where I found the Noonday Gun, but it was covered with a tarp. I still have the picture to prove that I finally found it.

It had been enough for one day so I walked back to my hostel, stopped at a few shops on the way, actually walked too far past my hostel, and then made my way back. Thank goodness I know how to read a map! I still hadn’t solved my converter problem, but I was too tired to deal with it, so it would have to wait until the next day.

Day 2

I woke up and got ready for another day in Hong Kong. I headed out the door and went towards the MTR station nearby, but ended up going the wrong way. I had walked far enough that I just needed to stop and eat breakfast before I could figure out where I was. I had a macaroni, hot dog soup with toast, eggs, and coffee for 31HKD (4USD). It was a really odd combination, but it hit the spot.

Odd but filling breakfast.

Odd but filling breakfast.

With a full stomach I walked back and found the MTR entrance. It was a block away from my hostel. UGH! I went to Central Station and walked to The Peak Tram. Peak Skypass 83HKD (10.71USD). I didn’t have to wait long before I was getting into the tram and we were being pulled, at a very steep angle, by mere cables. These kinds of things make me uneasy. Little did I know what was in-store on the way down. At the top of Victoria Peak I went all the way to the top of the Sky Terrace 428 building and took pictures. After admiring the view I made my way back down and waited for the tram again. This time when the tram went down the mountain it went backwards, so I couldn’t even see what was going on unless I turned around.

At the bottom I headed towards the Botanical & Zoological Garden, walked around for a bit, and decided it was too hot and I needed to go somewhere else. I went towards what I thought was the Government House, but ended up missing it. I walked around and found a lunch spot called El Taco Loco and knew I needed to eat there. I ate more than enough food and spent quite a bit on my meal 133HKD (17.16USD).

Next I tried to find the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Museum, but when I got there it was closed. Apparently a lot of museums are closed on Thursdays. Frustrating! It was so hot out and I had been doing a lot of walking that I needed to go somewhere where I could be inside. I walked along the Sun Yat-Sen Historical Trail until I got to the Western Market, stopping to buy some sunglasses before I got there. The Western Market had restaurants on the first floor and then the second floor was full of bolts of cloth. It looked like some shops could make custom clothing.

At this point I was so exhausted from the heat that I decided to go back to my hostel to rest. I enjoyed a few hours of air conditioning and a small nap. Out of bed I went on a new quest. I went to see the Bauhinia Sculpture and Unity Monument located next to the bay. At this point I had done enough sight-seeing for the day and really wanted to go shopping.

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I walked back to the MTR and headed towards the Kowloon area. My destination was H&M. I found it fairly quickly and spent way too much time in the store. Around 7:00pm I decided it was time to leave and head towards the harbor. I was very proud of myself for the small amount of money I had just spent in one of my favorite stores. Reaching the harbor area I saw the Clock Tower and then walked along the Avenue of Stars. A big crowd had already gathered for the Light Show on Victoria Harbor. At 8:00pm the buildings across the harbor started a lights show to the music playing through the speakers on my side of the harbor. It lasted for about 15 minutes and was an awesome view. I sat there for a little bit more and then walked back to the MTR and headed back to Causeway Bay Station.

Back in the area I walked around a plaza looking for food. I saw a Roxy store which made me really happy, and then I stopped at a placed called Oliver’s Super Sandwich Shop and ate a chicken salad sandwich for 39HKD (5USD). I grabbed a Pocari Sweat before going to my hostel and resting the rest of the night.

Day 3

Not falling asleep until later I slept in a little bit in the morning. This was a great decision as I felt rested and had missed the morning rain showers due to my late start. I ate breakfast at Oliver’s 37HKD (4.77USD), and then got on the MTR for the Star Ferry. The Star Ferry cost 2.5HKD and it is a very short trip across the harbor. It is one of those things that you just need to do when you are in Hong Kong, I did it despite my lack of interest in ferries.

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Next was the Hong Kong History Museum. For an extra price I was able to see the additional exhibit they had in the museum 20HKD (2.58USD). I spent almost 3 hours in the museum and it was worth every minute. I even ran into someone that also works for the same company as me in Taiwan. Crazy!

I wanted to go outside by this time so I got on the MTR headed towards Diamond Hill Station. A short walk away and I was in the Nan Liao Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery. Wow! By far one of the best things I had seen on my trip. The garden was beautiful and so peaceful. I could have walked around it for hours if my feet didn’t hurt so much. Then the Chi Lin Nunnery. That was even more beautiful. I couldn’t take pictures of the inside, but all the monuments of the gods were lovely and very well kept. I wish I was more of a rule breaker and had sneaked some pictures, but I will just have to remember it by memory.

In the mall near the gardens there was a Uniqlo. I thought I would just stop in and walked around in the air conditioning for a bit. I ended up leaving the store with several things 394HKD (50.83USD). I still wanted to spend more time outside before I went to a market. I took the MTR to Kowloon and walked around the Kowloon Park. That also was beautiful. I didn’t even try looking for it but I ended up seeing the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars and some other cool outdoor art along my walk. Hong Kong is diverse enough to really add effort into their food and religion. There is a Mosque and Islamic Center that is located right along the Kowloon Park.

My next stop was the markets. The first one I walked down was the famous Temple Street Market. Any clothing item, accessory, random electronic or souvenir you can think of was there. I didn’t really need to buy those items so I just looked. I needed a snack so I purchased a Taro Smoothie with Pudding 22HKD (2.84USD). Yumm! I continued to walk around the streets through the Produce Market and Jade Market.

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By this time my feet were killing me so I knew it was time to go back to my hostel. I took a breather from walking around and then went to dinner at a restaurant near my hostel. I ate way too much food at Danny O’s and spent way over my food budget, but it was worth it 295HKD (38.05USD).

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When I came back to my hostel I discovered that something was wrong with my camera lens. This was very disappointing as I have a pretty decent camera and wanted to continue to use it for the rest of my trip.

Day 4

I got up a little later than usual. I had planned a very chill day and wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere. I went to 7-11 to buy water and protein bars for a hike and then had a big breakfast at Oliver’s Super Sandwiches 56HKD (7.22USD). In order to get to the Dragon’s Back Trail I took the MTR and then got on a bus headed towards Tei Wan stop. Me and others who also got off at the same stop started hiking up the trail. I hated it almost the whole way up. It was hot and there were a lot of stairs, which I thought I had left behind in Taiwan. The view at the top was definitely worth it though. I could see the beach from the top and knew it was going to be so refreshing. Going down was much better, but still so hot, and I felt like I was repeatedly applying sunscreen. I caught the bus right away and bused down to the beach. There I changed and walked right into the water. The water was freezing and it felt great! A couple hours later I decided that was enough time in the heat. I packed up and headed back to Causeway Bay.

The heat had really gotten to me so I took a nap and then got up to go eat dinner. I found another Mexican restaurant and got on the MTR to find Agave. I found the restaurant, but along the way I also found what appeared to be the gay bar district. I can’t say for sure, but there were many clues. I ate a great meal of Vegetable Fajitas and Caramel Crepes for 273HKD (35.22USD). I was having stomach problems, but I still wanted to try and go see one more thing before I left Hong Kong. I went to an amazing Apple Store to pick-up a new iPhone charger and then walked towards the Hong Kong Observation Wheel (overrated Ferris wheel). The wheel cost 100HKD (12.90USD). If you go at the right time you can catch the sunset, then it is definitely worth the cost. In the cabin I met the cutest little family. Their English was amazing and we talked about what I do and then a little bit about Hong Kong. They took plenty of pictures and we tried to take pictures with their son, who is 3 years old, and he just wasn’t cooperating with a stranger.

With my stomach causing me more and more pain I went back to my hostel to lay down for awhile and then re-pack my bag. It was much heavier now with all the clothes I had just purchased in Hong Kong.

Day 5

This was my last day in Hong Kong. Although I was sad to go I was also ready to go home. I was running out of money and needed to leave, pronto! I laid in for awhile and then got up and checked out. My stomach still hurt so I went to a coffee shop and ordered a latte and eggs with bacon and mushroom. They also gave me toast, but it was too hard to eat. If you are ever in Hong Kong go to Cafe Corridor across from Times Square in Causeway Bay. The lattes are so smooth and it has a tiny coffee shop atmosphere.

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I left and headed towards my final destination in Hong Kong: Tian Tan Buddha. This required me to take a 45 minute MTR and then wait in line for the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. I had read this is the best way to go because the 25 minute cable car has a great view. I agree with whoever wrote that, but waiting in line for an hour for the cable car was not fun. I wish I could have waited until the afternoon when the lines aren’t long, but oh well. The cable car is 168HKD (21.67USD) for a standard cabin. The ride was very smooth, but when I reached the village at the end of the ride there were no lockers to put my giant backpackers backpack in. This meant I had to carry around my heavy bag in the heat and walk up to the Buddha with it too. Because of the extra weight I didn’t spend as much time around the area as I would have liked. I visited the Po Lin Monastery very briefly. There is a no visitors rule, so you can only glance into the temple area. I then walked up to the Buddha. The view at the top was worth it and all my previous walking had gotten me into shape for the very small hike up to the top. I took a rest and then walked back down. Besides seeing the cows lounging around there really wasn’t anything else for me to do so I headed back to the cable cars and took the ride back down.

At the bottom I headed to the MTR station two stations back to catch the Airport Express. At the airport I had plenty of time before I needed to check-in, so I sat down and had dumplings and a Sprite, hoping it would help settle my stomach. It didn’t. I then checked in and went through security and immigration. Once through I still had plenty of time because my gate had not been assigned yet. Despite my stomach problems I bought some peanut butter cheesecake because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get any in Taiwan. Then I sat around until my gate was assigned. My flight was late, so I spent a lot of time just being anxious and wanting to get home. Finally, on the flight I was sad to leave Hong Kong, but ready to go back to Taiwan and my own bed.

Although a bit expensive Hong Kong was so cool and I’m glad I made the last minute trip. Back to Taiwan and back to work!