As a result of the visa requirements in Indonesia, I needed to leave the country after a month visa. I have seen some countries nearby Indonesia, like Singapore or Malaysia, therefore I wanted to go somewhere else. I have some friends in the region, and I really wanted to meet at least one of them. My final target countries were Hong Kong and Taiwan, and only the cheaper ticket decided where to go: to Hong Kong. Although my travel itineary was crazy according to others, I really enjoyed that. Why was it crazy? Because of the time of transfers. I departed from Jakarta, but there are no low-cost airlines going straight to Hong Kong. Therefore I needed to fly to Singapore and wait for 8 hours for my connection… during the night. I was very excited, as going to the Changi Airport was my dream for my whole life and it seemed to be impossible to visit it one day. I heard that is the most beautiful airport in the world, so I really wanted to see it in person. Today, after 46 visited airports I can say that it is really the most beautiful airport that I have ever seen. There were many comfortable siting areas, computers to use, games, and many beautiful gardens.
During my travels I am considered as a backpacker: I go for the experience for the lowest price. If possible, I prefer staying with locals during my tours, although hostels can give me also very nice experiences when I meet other travelers from all around the world and I hear their stories and advices about places. Out of 8 days in Hong Kong I spent 6 days with 2 Couch Surfers, on the 2 other days I decided to stay in a hostel.
I had not even landed when I felt my stay in Hong Kong would be amazing. I adore mountains, so when I saw the first peaks nearby the airport, my tears came out of my eyes. Afterwards, I could not believe when I left the aircraft and I felt some cold weather. Since I was in Indonesia the temperature was not below 25 Degrees, which is called actually cold there, but in Hong Kong it was only 11 Degrees. „Wow, at least I will not feel warm!” – I thought.
One of my hosts, an Italian expat lives in a very good location, in Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok, Kowloon. She had a spare room, so she could let me stay with her and hang out together. Fa Yuen Street is very famous for its sport shoes’ market, but there are fruit market as well. The famous Ladies’ Market was also very near, where tourists can look for some souvenirs for their beloved ones. That place was a heaven for me, as a foodie person: there were many choices of food, not to mention, they were very cheap as well. There were selections from Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Indian (sorry, Indian-Italian… do not ask for the relation, nor do I have any idea why they do that!) foods, but do not worry, the American McDonald’s (as I noticed, it is very cheap. In most countries in Asia governments put very high taxes on fast foods, like McDonald’s. Moreover, it is even cheaper than in the USA!), and actually, a Mexican restaurant can be also found there! My favourite one meal was the noodle soup. When I have a look at Asian people and I see their size, I never think about getting a portion which might be considered too large. However, when I received the noodle soup pot, I was very surprised. I heard in China people serve more food, if you eat it all you show them that the food was not enough, so you always need to leave something on the plate. My friend told me that in Hong Kong people are not like that anymore because of the foreigners, although once, I drank my tea many times and my friend’s father kept filling my glass again. After a while I realized that I should not finish my drink.
There are 2 main things I like in Asia: the food, and… the temples. In Hong Kong there are many temples that are worth visiting: the Wong Tai Sin temple is one of them. There are many tourists visiting the place, and it is definitely one of the most popular temples in Hong Kong.
The Chi Lin Nunnery is not that far to walk from Wong Tai Sin Temple, and, it is not crowded with tourists. In the Nan Lian Garden, which is right in front of the nunnery people can have a walk and experience the calmness of a Chinese garden. Unfortunately the rainy weather stopped me to stay in the garden for a longer time, but getting wet in this place was worth it for sure.
I also visited the Kowloon Walled City Park, which has a very interesting history. Originally the area was built for military purposes, for soldiers and families. However, there were more people than houses available, so after a while the government could not control the crimes, which were related to drugs, prostitutions, etc. Eventually they decided to demolish the area in 1980’s, and transformed into a park in 1990’s.
My another host lived in Hong Kong island, which is more developed than Kowloon, and it is full with high skyscrapers. I stayed with her and her family, who introduced me their life. They invited me for family meals and we went out together. I could get to know a lot about Hong Kong and its people. My friend cared about my food-lover habit, so on the first day we went to places where there were sights and chances to eat: to Hollywood Street, to Central and to Causeway Bay. Unfortunately in the island I experienced higher price for the foods, but I could try a very tasty dessert, the egg puffs, which was filled with chocholate and was put into ice cream; I tasted the snake soup in a popular Michelin-star restaurant, and so many other tasty treats.
The snake soup was a new experience for me. I guess most people usually do not eat snake soup for lunch, at least I thought that when I paid HKD120 for it, while the other meals cost only half of it. Not to mention about the portion, which was a kind of appertizer compared to a good portion of noodle soup. However, this restaurant was about the quality, not the quantity. The taste of the snake was really similar to chicken, but it was more tough. I was very sad to finish it, because I knew in the near future I will not eat snake again.
We did not miss going to the Victoria Peak, which is a very popular destination for visitors. Although there is the Peak Tram, we decided to go by bus, because it was cheaper,there were less people, and the view was amazing as well. We went there in the afternoon before sunset, and waited till it fully goes down – so we could see the city in daylight and at night as well. It is beautiful, is not it?
Lantau Island is very famous because of Disneyland, but it was not on my list to visit, but the Ngong Ping, where the Big Buddha is. Visitors can go there by cable car, where the view is amazing, and by bus, which also goes through several nice places. I was very excited to go up on the stairs and do a hifive with the Buddha, but up there I realized he is just waving for people to come closer. Inside the Buddha people could read stories about its construction process, about Buddhism and so on.
I have not mentioned the third option how to get to the Big Buddha: by hiking. Personally I like hiking, because during my way I can take more pictures with my camera, there are not so many people around me, it is a good excercise, and so many other advantages. Lantau Island has several trails to Big Buddha, which are about 3-4 hours long. Unfortunately the weather was quite cloudy, and I was alone, so I did not want to take the risk to go on the trail without company, as it is not without danger, thanks to the lot slippery stairs.
The Lantau trail is not the only one where people can hike in Hong Kong. Many people would not think about it, but Hong Kong has a lot of trails and very beautiful nature. The main trails are the Hong Kong trail, the MacLehose trail and Wilson trail, each of them are about 100 kms long, and have more sections of course. I decided to go for hiking as well during my visit: I have been to Tsing Yi, where I went to its nature trail from the promenade. It is a 3-4 hour hiking with proper stairs and walkway, even when raining it was perfect to go on. I said a thank you for the rain which joined me in my journey, as going up on the stairs was not a dream for me, but the rain cooled me down. Maybe it was because of the weather, but I did not meet that many people on my way, so definitely good for people who want to go to a less crowded place in Hong Kong.
I also went to the Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong island with my local friend. The sun woke up, went out of its room and sent the rain away. This whole thing happened on Saturday, so we could experience a kind of traffic jam on the trail because of many hikers. We did not loose our happiness with my friend, just have a look at the 2 smiling girls on the picture! After getting on to the peak we had more choices to go – we decided to continue to the Big Wave Bay, where there was a very nice beach.
My third trail was to the Tai Tam Reservoir in Hong Kong island, which is the second biggest reservoir in Hong Kong, that gives water for the residents. The trail was good even for bikers as well, and it was a very easy one without steps.
Staying in Hong Kong was amazing, I felt like a real traveler. I could get to know the city from a different perspective, I could try a lot of food and I could also experience the nature. This was the place where I started to think about writing a blog about foods from different places, and I also realized how beautiful the nature is, and learned the city is not the only place where we can entertain ourselves. I really hope I can share with people my experience from Hong Kong, so they will not think that it is all about skyscrapers and crowded streets which can be visited in only a few days, but they will also consider paying attention to the beautiful nature as well. I spent 8 wonderful days in Hong Kong, but I still feel that I would have been able to do more for some more days.
IN A NUTSHELL:
- Visit the markets at Fa Yuen Street, Temple Street (it’s night market) and go to Ladies’ Market
- If you’re an animal lover: 1 or 2 streets next to Fa Yuen Street. There are A LOT of pet shops!
- Stay in Kowloon, you can see other cities similar to Island.
- Hike! It’s more beautiful than the city itself
- Try as much food as you can: in Kowloon they are cheaper
- Buy an Octopus card in the airport: traveling with it is cheaper. They refund it if you give it back in the end of your stay.
- Go to Mr. Wong! He gives buffet for extremely cheap! Alcohol is included.
- Going to the Island centre on Sunday – maids are having day off so they go to the streets to hang out.
- Staying in Orchid Inn, in Kowloon. Very uncomfortable beds and rude owner.
In case of any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me about Hong Kong 🙂