Asian Adventures: Hong Kong
August 28th, 2015

The next stop on my Asian sweep was Hong Kong! It feels very strange writing this now because it’s 8 months overdue, but I’ll at least get something down here. Time stops for no one.

Hong Kong Day 9

After the chaos that we went through [See Day 8/9 of Japan], I couldn’t be happier to experience HK! I had heard a lot about the food, mountains, and the shopping, and I was stoked to be in a new place.

Getting off the plane and taking a bus from the airport to the city, my eyes eyes were glued to the window. Passing from Lantau Island, where the airport is situated, and crossing bridges to Hong Kong Island, I couldn’t believe the thousands upon thousands of cargo ships and cargo boxes I saw. Colorful, industrial, and kind of surreal.

When we got to our hostel, we were overdue for a shower and some rest, so we cleaned up quick and then headed to meet our college friend who was working in HK. She’s an outdoorsy one and took us on an urban hike to Victoria’s Peak. HK is incredibly vertical; I’m in awe of how they put so many huge buildings along those what seem like 40 – 60 degree angles. I quickly understood why everyone I saw was wearing sneakers too – so necessary if you’re walking around! Even though everything was just paved roads, and not like a hiking path, just ordinary streets and roads to businesses, apartment buildings, nothing special, it was a work out. We even took a series of outdoor escalators to go up part of the way, but it was still tiring. Once we were at the top though, to think that we technically made it up by foot [no cablecar for us!], it was pretty gratifying. We looped around, taking the view in as the sun was beginning to set. My friend noted that it was hazier than usual that day, but the view was still incredible. I thought NYC was big, but HK is on a different level. Literally, because the density and the sheer terrain of the city, it’s so impressive. We had dinner at a restaurant at the peak before looping a second time to get the night time view. We even made it for the light show that goes off every night, as a bunch of the big city buildings coordinate their lights. No music, but it was still cool that they do it every evening.

Hiking back down was pretty tiring still, but we definitely went faster on the way down. A productive first day!

Hong Kong Day 10

We were pretty exhausted the next day, so we mosied out, got us some amazingly buttery pineapple bread and HK style milk tea, and then head over for bubble tea at Eslite Bookstore. I had gone to the Eslite in Taipei, and it was a cool mix of books, stationary, and a lot of other nifty household goods. I love household goods stores :] We got some bubble tea at a TenRen and then went to Lantau Island and to Tung Chung station to see the Tan Tian Buddha.

Pure butter. Pure deliciousness

We felt like splurging and went on the cable car ride [not the crystal bottom one, so I guess we didn't really splurge], and enjoyed a 20 minute cable car ride through some crazy mountains.

The cable car ended up at Ngong Ping Village, which is like a touristy village outside the Tan Tian Buddha, which is this massive buddha statue outside, with a couple of monastery buildings nearby. The area itself is…a little strange feeling. Like an amusement park, the buildings are all made pretty on the fronts. There were a few trails nearby as well that we walked about, including the Wisdom Path.

Note the dog, and then the “no dog” sign :]

We originally planned to hike to the buddha, but the cable car was so tempting. Because we started our day kind of on the later side also, we didn’t have enough daylight to hike the way back. So we ended up taking a [cheap] bus back to Tung Chung station.

In the evening since it wasn’t too late, we went to Mong Kok in Kowloon [九龍 - would never have though they got "Kowloon" from that]. Mong Kok has tons of street markets, selling street food on a stick and almost everything else, from handbags to penny boards. We browsed for a while, ate a variety of skewers, and then enjoyed a nice evening view of Hong Kong Island. The view from Kowloon of Victoria Harbor is quite impressive, from the physical length of the city to the rainbow of colors. HK likes its lights!

Hong Kong Day 11

The next morning we went hiking for real. We were set on venturing the Dragon’s Back, a series of hills on the eastern part of Hong Kong Island. We had to take locate a local bus to get to the entrance of the trail, and from there, there were a lot of stairs and ups and down. But the view was great. Most of the mountains there have low-lying shrubs, so the hike comes with a good view of all the hills, like the ridges on a dragon’s back :] So clever

Our walk down was more in a forested setting as we went down a lower elevation. There were also fewer people as we went down, and with only my college friend and I, and after having been together for…many hours, we alternated between silence and “Name that Disney Tune” – mobile karaoke. It was amusing. I was really grateful on that trek that I ended up doing this trip with a friend and not on my own.

The trail ended at Big Wave beach, which is like a little inlet cove with a small surfing community. We sat for a while, enjoying some snacks, just taking in the scenery and the little surfers bobbing in the waves.

There was an additional hiking path, but we were pretty beat, so we waited for a tiny bus to take us back to Chai Wan and back to civilization.

Hong Kong Day 12

My original itinerary for Hong Kong including a lot of urban hiking, and after seeing for myself how incredible the topography is in HK, I can see why hiking is a thing.

The next morning, we had another buttery pineapple bun and milk tea at a different restaurant. We also visited Goldfish Street, which is a street full of pet stores. There were tons of colorful fish in baggies outdoors.

We then embarked on an interesting adventure…finding a foot path to hike to the Tan Tian buddha on Lantau that we had seen a couple of days ago. However, as listed online, the path is not exactly easy to get to. It’s actually not a formally marked hiking path, but instead it’s a fire escape path for the cable car. It follows directly under the path of the cable car, and it’s the only paved area amongst the mountains on Lantau as the cable car cuts the sky above.

Thanks to technology and the internet, we found a guide to direct how to find the entrance to the path. It included a lot of photos of random fences and corners to turn at. Nothing was marked about a path, so at this white fence we turned left, and at this stone building we turned right. It was an interesting experience in independence to say the least.

We actually found the path in one go without having to double back. The path entrance was slightly behind an old lady’s house, and we passed the family as we went looking for the entrance.

The path is a explicit, but crudely constructed, path of cement and rocks. There were a lot of stairs also. Every up and down, the path went up and down. Nothing cut directly across. There were some areas that were so steep that there were wooden stairs, and just when you make it up, you have to come down again. And then back up. Every hill we saw, we wondered if we were near the end [we had read somewhere that there were 7 or so hills...but what constituted as a hill we weren't sure]. Eventually in the distance we did see the buddha in the haze, and were motivated to make it. Especially as we saw some locals just walk right past us. The path was not a formally marked trail, but it was well traversed nonetheless. People just hike it for their routine exercise, carrying nothing but a bottle of water. I was so impressed.

It was definitely satisfying getting to the buddha completely on our own two feet. We visited around some more, and also went to Tai O, a nearby historic fishing village. Unfortunately, it was a bit underwhelming, so after enjoying the sunset, we headed back.

We actually went to Mong Kok again, ate wonton soup at a simple place along the way, and did a little more shopping before enjoying a nice long sit looking over the harbor again and just taking in the HK skyline.

I’ve seen New York City referred to as a concrete jungle, but seriously, HK is a much more appropriate example. Amidst vertical mountains, old and modern, nature keeping its claim on parts of the city, and just this huge dense cosmopolitan futuristic city feel, HK was amazing.

For my friends who grew up in this city, I can barely imagine what it must be like to live there for years, and then go to elsewhere, like Boston. Even NYC can’t compare to HK.

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This is my personal site to post some stuff – stuff that is so random I can’t really be any more specific. But if you care for photos of food, panoramas, my day, or just the thoughts that go on in my head, please stay!

I love to travel, bake, burn time on tumblr, read, cafe questing, and run around pretending to be a photographer. I also have a thing for Japanese, classical music, and food. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I hope to do it with a smile, see new things, do everything, and just experience and take it all in.