Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hong Kong

The best way I can think of to describe Hong Kong is that it is feels like a mixture of New York, Europe, and China. It definitely is different than mainland China which is easily understandable considering it was governed by the British for 150 years before being turned back over to the Chinese in 1997. Despite obviously knowing this I was expecting Hong Kong to be more similar and much more integrated into China since it had been 13 years after the hand over took place. For all practical purposes it feels like a different country. Hong Kong has its own currency, legal system, and police force. When traveling to Hong Kong from mainland China you have to go through immigration to leave China and once again as you enter Hong Kong. The different areas we explored were less hectic and a little more civilized than the rest of China we experienced. However, you could still come across sights that are not normal for a US or European city.

Hong Kong skyline at night
In Hong Kong we pretty much toured it at a reduced pace. Since the temperatures were much hotter than the previous places we had visited we didn't get out until the afternoon/evening. I had also developed a nasty case of Athlete's Foot that didn't go away and had gotten worse by the time we arrived in Hong Kong. Keeping my foot dry and medicated with Lamisil were also somewhat of a priority for me. It helped not to overdue it in all the heat and humidity. We used the morning time to catch on things and do some trip planning for Turkey, Israel, and Jordan.

Hong Kong is also an expensive city too. Our small hostel room in Hong Kong was I believe the most expensive one on our trip to date but it did come with free wi-fi and we had our own bathroom/shower which is always a nice perk. They also didn't charge us for doing our laundry even though the sign said it should have been 40 Hong Kong dollars ($5.16 USD). They said to just leave them a good review on Hostelbookers which is the site we used to book this hostel. I think it was a pretty good place to visit as we wound up our China and Asia part of the trip. However, I wouldn't only visit Hong Kong if you want to experience China because you would be short changing yourself. Hong Kong was quite different than Beijing but not all that dissimilar from Shanghai. Of course it depends on what parts of these cities you stay and hang out in. Also, to properly visit China you need to get out in some of the more rural areas like we did in Guiling and Yangshuo.
Densely packed Hong Kong street

The highlights for me was just checking out the city and noticing the similarities and contrasts between Hong Kong and mainland China. We checked out different parts in the area in which we stayed as well as Hong Kong Island. On our last full day we took a couple ferries over to Lamma Island. We hiked across the island and ate dinner in the village of Sok Kwu Wan at a seafood restaurant called Rainbow Seafood. Since we ate dinner there we also receive a complementary ferry ride back to Hong Kong Island. However, we got off too soon. The ferry actually kept going and would have dropped us off over in the Kowloon area where we stayed but there were no announcements in English. We ended up taking regular ferry back over to our area for only 2 Hong Kong dollars which equals about 26 cents US.

Well that pretty much wraps up our stay in Hong Kong. It was a nice city to finish up our China and eastern Asia portion of our travels. We were able to rest, catch up on blogging, photo editing, and make progress on our travel itinerary. We pretty have our next stop of Turkey planned out as much as we want to plan it out. I am also looking forward to Alethea's mom and husband joining us for part of our Turkey adventure. It should be fun! 

Link to Hong Kong photos:

Hong Kong

Daily Log:

Tuesday October 12th
Arrived in Hong Kong
Checked into hotel
Walked around southern tip of area we are staying at which is called Tsim Sha Tsui

Wednesday October 13th
Slept in after traveling for the previous 48 hours by bus, subway, and overnight train from Yangshuo.
Caught up on pics and blogging.
Purchased two Octopus transport cards to use on the various transport options
Took the subway about 4 stops to an area north of where we are staying and walked around the Mong Kok area before back tracking through Temple Street Night Market. It was pretty neat. You could buy all sorts of junk. Alethea actually bought me a Chairmen Mao watch!
Ate at a local place. I had sweat and sour pork :-)
Walked all the way back to our hotel.

Thursday October 14th
Turkey planning
Went to Hong Kong Island and walked around for a few hours
Botanical/Zoo Garden

Friday October 15th
Explored the area north of where we are staying
Ate dinner at good local place. Mostly meat dishes which were pretty good. 
Saw the 8 pm HK light show. Pretty neat. Lasted 20 minutes.

Saturday October 16th
Lamma Island - took two ferries to reach the island. Hike from one side to another for a little over a hour.
Ate dinner Rainbow Seafood restaurant - pretty good
Took two ferries back to where we were staying in Hong Kong
Bought some supplies at a Watsons department store.

Sunday October 17th
Check out of hostel
Take bus to airport
Had to kill several hours in the check in lounge area before being able to check in for our flight. We are flying Royal Jordanian and they only have one flight per day which is our 9:30 pm flight. The problem is that since we cannot get boarding passes we cannot go through security and enter the lounge that we have a membership too. Not a big deal but not the comfortable wait we were expecting which is why we got to the airport this early. Oh well.

Mid-level escalators