The terminal train announcement at Hong Kong International Airport, peered through Keane who together with Emeli Sandè and The Script formed the soundtrack to my 10 day visit between Hong Kong and China. Saturday, September, 22nd, it was time to head back to London…
Yes, my lovelies! I had finally set foot on the Asian continent, albeit five years later than planned. It took a wedding invitation to get me to sign up for a 16 hour flight. A wedding I very nearly missed thinking it was one month later than the actual date. A frantic shuffling and emails suggesting the cheapest ways to save cost to our client on covering the days I would be off secured my release off my current project for 7 working days, 10 including weekends.
Discovering Hong Kong
Arriving in Hong Kong tired but immediately awakened by the beautifully lite skyscrapers as the hotel shuttle bus took me and 3 others from the airport to the Marriott Courtyard. I forced myself to sleep at 6.30pm UK time and 1.30am HK in an attempt to adjust my body clock to Hong Kong time. As the blinds slowly disappeared into the ceiling revealing the prettiest emerald green sea views I have ever laid eyes on, I had woken up in Hong Kong!!! Turbo Jet boats whizzed past transporting travelers to a Macau, container floats lazily passing by over a back drop of the Victoria Harbour. Twenty-one floors above the ground, I must have sat by the window for a while because it was 3pm by the time I dragged my jet-lagged behind out of my hotel room.
Hong Kong Island
Breezy Tee, walking shoes, sunnies and it was show time! With buses, taxis and trams right at the hotel’s door step, I chose to explore on foot. Passing through the dry seafood market in the Bird’s Nest Street, a bustling street with bargains being had. Blindly navigating my way through the streets I found myself at the Western Market. An Edwardian-style building still standing since 1906 sitting by a busy square in Sheung Wan Fong with traditional shops surrounding.
|Peak Tram: The Bride(not me, my friend…)|
After an excited refueling at Starbucks, I arrived in the Central District. The very heart of Hong Kong and the city’s financial hub. A dynamic and immediately evident; very cosmopolitan. Totally different to the traditional scene of Sheung Wan. If you are a lover of all that is steel and glass then this is truly heaven! Hong Kong has world-class infrastructure designed by some of the worlds best architects and a symbol of its success. As a lover of architectural photography I almost fell over myself in excitement at the canvas in front of me. Walking through the streets its almost as if you are travelling through time as the city reveals its colonial past. St John’s Cathedral, one of Hong Kong’s Oldest surviving Western building built in the 13th Century. Right across from the Cathedral is the Peak Tram. The tram leads to Victoria Peak; the highest point on the island with world famous views over the city and South China Seas.
After marveling over the city’s mix of ‘east-meets-west’ and being happily entwined in the a bustling, captivating and charismatic island, it was time to cross over to Kowloon. With a choice of taxi, train and ferry, I chose to cross over to Kowloon by the Star Ferry. Hong Kong was hot and humid so travelling by ferry offering panoramic views of the harbour and fresh breeze as the boat booped on the water was a wise move according to taxi driver dropping me off at the IFC mall; Hong Kong’s tallest office building housing luxury shopping mall, Four Seasons Hotel, cinemas and world finance companies all under one beautiful tower.
|Kowloon Food District|
Kowloon is a tourists dream and a bank manager’s nightmare! Kowloon is a city that never sleeps. Bright and colourful street lights and signage. At the tip of Kowloon peninsula is the popular Tsim Sha Tsui with a variety of shopping malls, historical landmarks and restaurants. I think I eat myself around the world. I don’t think I have ever been this adventurous with food before. Feasting my way through Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, Chinese and off course western dishes in Kowloon’s Food District over the duration of my stay. The food was fresh, tasty and delightfully heaven on the lips! For more tips on food in HK check out this Hong Kong Food Guide
Peking Road and Canton Road offer unrivaled luxury brands stores and across is Harbour City and Hong Kong’s largest shopping mall. With 450 shops, I am sure even Carey Bradshaw would be sent in a tail spin at the end to end line of luxury shopping on offer in Kowloon.
|Kowloon’s Lux Shopping district|
Leaving Chanel and Cartier behind and heading for the Ladies Market in Mong Kok. I had read that this is a bargain hunter’s galore so I was not going to leave HK without paying homage. A long street with stalls selling ladies, men’s and children’s clothes, accessories and knick knacks. Yes, I was in the mood to haggle and pretended to walk away from prices just so I can get away with the price I was willing to pay scored me a few bargains. Ka-Ching! Also making a stop at Temple Street Night Market on the way to hot-pot feasts with friends. Shopping in HK is exhilarating! Temple Street market closes at mid-night and aside from the bargains on the racks there are street entertainment; chess players, fortune tellers and opera singers drawing you into the kaleidoscopically lite market streets.
Avenue of Stars…?
After walking around Tsim Sha Tsui for hours in the HK heat, I took a de-tour to the Avenue of Stars while waiting for the return of my passport with the Chinese visa. I sat down on a bench next to an old guy and within minutes I was attacked by an army of pensioners…
I am sure there are tens of photos(and maybe a video too) of me and an army of pensioners who were amused by the sighting of a brown girl (by the way there are many a brown girl in HK, so this experience so quite interesting) in Hong Kong that they decide to take pictures of me and before diving in and requesting I take pictures with them. The whole experience was so funny I couldn’t stop laughing. I also took pictures of the group for my own evidence of the moment(picture above). I managed to escape when they started comparing pictures.
|Ladies queuing to take a picture with Bee…lol|
All good trips must come to an end…
|Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower/Autumn Festival Lanterns|
I couldn’t believe just how emotional leaving Hong Kong made me feel. Seeing a friend get married having not seen her for years other than daily online chatter and no face to face contact, and my lone travels to unbelievably amazing islands surrounding Hong Kong, seeing the bustling city of Guangzhou in China and the great big Buddha, I felt a little sad. Not because I didn’t want to go home but the peace of mind that I had had being in Hong Kong was too good to let go of. The people always smiling and so friendly and I never thought I would hear a Chinese man call me Sista before(in a bid to entice me into his handbag shop…It worked!)
Getting around Hong Kong is fairly easy. Taxis are inexpensive compared to London, the trains are easy to navigate through and the ferries leaving every few minutes so you are spoilt for choice.
From getting the celeb treatment(pictures above) while resting my feet at Asia’s Avenue of Stars to seeing Symphony of Lights, to walking down Shanghai Street; one of the city’s oldest street to trailing 90 degree angles in the Peak Tram, heading up 500 meters above sea level to the viewing tower of Victoria Peak. Walking along Repulse Bay’s beautiful beaches. Hong Kong offers amazing country parks, shopping malls, markets, villages, fascinating themed walks and hiking trails all in relaxed atmosphere. There is so much to see and do in Hong Kong that 10 days was never ever going to be enough. I will definitely be back in Hong Kong soon but I will be adding the great wall of China, the forbidden city and Terracotta army to my list when I return.
5 Travel Tricks & Tips for Travelistas on the Go
1. Plan your trip; you dont have to plan down to the minute but be realistic in the time that you have and how much you can see and do without feeling like you are overdoing it. Allow yourself to be led by the scent of the city. Stash away the map for a while and just let your senses guide you.
2. Packing Accordingly. If you have planned your trip whether for adventure sport, rock climbing, walking or lounging then you must pack according to that. Doing point one also means you can be respectful of any cultural traditions of the places you may be visiting. The last thing you want is to be arrested on indecency charges in a foreign country. For the fashion conscience Wendy offers a great way to pack your goodies in your suitcase. Do not forget converters! I love my gadgets and the last thing I want is having no means to charge the batteries.
3. Don’t waste money on travel guides, the internet is free(well sort of). You can print maps and guides before your travel. I have always made a note to scan my passport and save a digital copy somewhere in the Cloud just in case I should lose it on my travels but I also ensure that the hotels I am staying at have safe boxes in the room to store valuables.
4. Be Safe, more so, especially when travelling alone.
5. Camera in hand, immerse yourself in the culture and HAVE FUN!!!
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Things to see and do in
Kong Kong. Where to Shop, eat and drink in Hong Kong. Visiting Kowloon. Getting the Ferry in Hong Kong. Visiting the IFC Mall in Hong Kong. Public Transport in Hong Kong. Getting around in Hong Kong.