Hong Kong

Friday 6 April 2018

The passport queue was very short and my bag arrived almost first. Amazing.

The train station is right in the middle of the terminal and the train left a couple of minutes later. So efficient.

From Kowloon station (22 mins later!) there are free shuttle busses which go to various hotels around the area. And one of these went directly to my hotel. Easy. Although this took a little while, there was quite a lot of traffic and a few stops before mine.

My hotel is amazing. All brand new. An incredible view from my 21st floor room, across the skyline. So pretty.

It was 10pm when I arrived. So time for bed.

Saturday 7 April 2018

I’ve been to Hong Kong before. And already visited most of the places I really wanted to.

But whilst I was here, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pop to Macau!

I walked from my hotel to the ferry port, which took about half an hour, weaving between the tall buildings and navigating main roads – crossing over the footbridges. Despite everything being crammed it, it all works.

My ferry was at 10.30am. You have to pass through immigration – different country! The ferry was a bit delayed due to bad weather (it didn’t seem to bad to me!).

But it took just over an hour to speed past the islands in the bay. with a nice view of the big Buddha on Lantau island.

Macau is 65km to the west of Hong Kong and is an old Portuguese colony. Macau is also know as the ‘Vegas of the East’, the only place in China where gambling is legal. This gives it a strange theme park feel.

It took a while to pass through immigration. And as we were late already, it was 12pm by the time I was out of the ferry terminal.

The ferry terminal is not far from the main city. But I didn’t have time to walk. There are free buses which every hotel runs from the ferry terminal to their hotel. So I found a hotel that was in the city centre and got on their free shuttle!

The hotel was the Grand Lisboa. A large building which is apparently shaped like a lotus. It was a bit strange. We were dropped off on a lower ground floor. Right next to the entrance to the casino.

I didn’t particularly want to go into the casino, but it seemed to be the only way out onto the Main Street.

It was busy. Slot machines. Tables of cards and lots of things I didn’t understand. So many people.

It was a bit of a maze and took me a while to go upstairs and find an exit.

From here, I walked into the old Portuguese UNESCO centre. And got lost. I just wandered around.

I ended up in the Street of Happiness. This is a small pedestrian street with red shutters on all the buildings. This was once Macau’s main red-light district. And several scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom were shot here. It was a nice street. But a lot of the shops were selling shark fins. So sad. So many of them.

After a bit more wandering I came across the Hong Kung temple. I hadn’t planned on coming this direction. I was just lost. It was a cool temple – with spiral incense everywhere. This temple is over 200 years old and is one of my favourite types. I was the only person inside.

I was trying to head to the Ruins of the Church of St Paul. But I got completely lost. Google maps was showing me as being in a completely different location. And the streets were a bit of a maze. But I finally made it.

All that is left of this church now, is just the front facade and is known as the Gate to Nowhere. The church was original constructed in 1602 by Japanese Christian exiles and Chinese craftsmen and is now one of the major Christian monuments in Asia.

Just next to the ruins of the church is a small temple – the Tcha temple.

Leading down from the church were a lot of steps, heading to a shopping district. There were so many people here. The steps were completely full of people.

I wandered around the streets (between the crowds of people) and ended up passing through the UNESCO preserved streets – full of Portuguese architecture. Colourful tiles. Arches along corridors. And several church like buildings. Very different from ‘normal’ China.

I had to head back to the ferry port for my ferry at 2.30pm. I caught the free hotel shuttle bus back again. And of course was a bit early.

It was only 1.45pm. The 2pm ferry hadn’t gone yet. So I stood in the standby line. And got a space!

The 2pm ferry was delayed also. Still blaming bad weather. But looked ok to me. So it was 3.15pm by the time we arrived into Hong Kong. This is a different ferry terminal – now on central island. (I had caught the ferry out of Kowloon on the way to Macau).

After navigating my way out of the ferry terminal – a complete maze of shopping centre with no exit signs – I made it to the streets.

I bumped into a bubble tea hole in the wall! I only had one of these for the first time in Taipei a couple of weeks ago – they are so good! I got a pineapple green tea, with tapioca balls!

I was in the Cat Street Market. A mixture of random antiques – vases, paintings and Knick-knacks. It was busy and the narrow street was packed full of things.

The streets in this area are built heading up the side of the mountain. Each road runs along the same level, then there are stairs (or escalator! In some parts) to the next level.

After a couple of layers of stairs, I was at Man Mo temple. This temple is sitting on the shadow of all the surrounding tall buildings. This is one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples, built in 1847.

It is a Taoist temple and has all the cool swirly incense as well as being full of lanterns, ribbons and more incense.

Near to here was a vegan cafe I wanted to go to – Mana fast slow food – they had lots of salads and wraps. I got a falafel wrap and a kombucha to eat now (it was 4pm and I hadn’t eaten all day yet..!). And a salad to take away for dinner later. It was so good.

I headed back down the streets and stairs and ended up at Central. A busy shopping area.

I was getting the metro from here. Very easy to buy a ticket – you just pick your destination on the picture of a map.

I was only crossing over the water back to Kowloon, so the journey was very quick and only a few stops.

Back over in Kowloon, I had intended on just heading back to my hotel. But I got carried away wandering around and ended up back at the harbour front to look at the buildings. All of the main avenue of stars is closed for refurbishments. So I could only stand on a raised platform, then walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade back to my hotel.

There wasn’t much of a sunset, it was too cloudy, which was a shame. I was hoping for a nice view from my amazing room.

The light show is still on everyday at 8pm. I remember this being quite cool last time I was here (a long time ago). But now all the buildings are lit up and flashing anyway, that the addition of the green lasers of the light show really didn’t add anything. It didn’t seem any different from the normal lit up.

Sunday 8 April 2018

I had a lie in today. The first time all trip.

And actually didn’t leave my room until I had to check out, at 12pm.

Then I headed to the pool. A rooftop (on the 9th floor..), but open and amazing views across the surrounding area. I had a swim and sat up here for a few more hours. It was really nice.

I headed out at 2pm to visit some housing estates. That sounds a bit silly, but they are popular for photos!

To get to the first one, Choi Hung, I had to change metro a few times. Here, the buildings were built in the 1950s and house around 43,000 people. And they are colourful.

The main place to take photos is on the roof of the car park in the middle of the estate. The roof of the car park has basket ball courts (and a small garden).

I wasn’t alone. There were lots of local girls and boys here taking endless numbers of photos of themselves. Some even had suitcases so they could change their clothes to take more photos.

Along with all the Instagram crowd were some old ladies, sitting outside keeping an eye on their drying tangerine peel!

It was cool though. The colour of the basketball court, against the colours of the surrounding buildings. Felt like a whole different world.

My next spot was near Quarry Bay metro. Again this area was residential. The buildings here are very tall and dense. Along the bottoms of the buildings were small fruit markets and lots of food shops.

I bought some fruit – durian, jackfruit and melon. Been a while since I last had durian! I also completely forgot that durian is banned on the metro. So lucky I ate that straight away!!

I was headed to a few mansion blocks – the Montane Mansion and Ocenaic Mansion.

These are not colourful like those at Choi Hung. But instead and dark and dingy and overpopulated.

Again the Instagram crowd were here. All standing around taking photos of themselves. Just above big banners saying no photos! Clearly the locals were sick of people coming to take pictures!

After a bit more metro, I got off at the Wan Chai area to wander around. This is a shopping and residential area. With a lot of newly built shopping centres.

There is a vegan cafe and shop here – Green Common. It was a bit late for lunch again – 5pm! So early dinner..!

I got a beyond meat burger. Not the usual kind of thing I would eat, but it was good!

Then headed back to my hotel.

The hotel has a lounge that you can use if you have checked out of your room, but don’t need to head to the airport yet. There are showers, free snacks and drinks. And a great view. So here for the next few hours!

I headed to the airport at 9pm. Back on the free shuttle to Kowloon train station.

At Kowloon station, Cathay Pacific allow you to check in and drop your bag here. Much easier than taking bags all the way to the airport!

The train was busy for the half hour journey to the airport. And I was there really a bit early. So lots of lounge time before my flight at 1am back to London.

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