Those of you who have been following our blog from the beginning know that we have never been in Asia before we moved to Shanghai. (Crazy, right?) So last weekend, we took two days off to travel for the first time within Asia: to Hong Kong. This seemed like a perfect choice as it’s only a short flight away and the flight and hotel prices are very reasonable.
My colleague was right to warn me about China Eastern, as both of our flights were delayed. And the strangest thing was – they didn’t communicate the delay to us, instead they made us board the plane and then started serving drinks and food in parking position for about an hour. The landing was very interesting as well, as we only saw land when we were a few meters above the ground.
When we arrived in Hong Kong and made our way to the hotel, I was immediately impressed by two things: first, the taxi driving doesn’t seem as horrendous as in Shanghai; second, we were surrounded by mountains and water! It was also funny to see the British street signs and markings. We decided to stay in the Hyatt Regency Sha Tin, as even though it’s further out, it’s amidst nature. And it felt like a perfect choice – it was calm and peaceful, it had an amazing outdoor pool and the best sea views from the hotel room (which you could even enjoy from the bath tub as there was a glass wall in front of it). And just like in Shanghai, there is a metro station close by and the taxi prices are quite cheap.
On our first night in Hong Kong, we drove to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon to have a wonder around the bustling shopping area. Annoyed by the large crowds of people and the Indians who tried their hard sell approach on us to make us buy fake watches or go to their restaurant, we just went into the first restaurant we could see with a nice view on the famous Hong Kong skyline. It was strange to see so many Indian people (or Indian British?) pestering tourists, as we haven’t seen any Indians in Shanghai and the haggling of fake products is usually done by the local Chinese sales people. And boy, eating out in Hong Kong is expensive! To have a meal in a decent, but not upscale, restaurant and choose lower priced food along with one or two drinks, you can easily spend 500 HKD per person. In Shanghai I could expect a three course meal with drinks in a fantastic restaurant for that.
On our second day, we took the Star Ferry from Kowloon over to Hong Kong Island, walked through the IFC shopping mall (which looked amazing, but we didn’t feel like shopping!) and took a taxi up to to Victoria Peak to avoid the long queues for the mountain train. The view from the Peak was fantastic, but to be honest, compared to our Shanghai skyline, it looked quite small and didn’t feel as overwhelming.
On the third day, we discovered the highlight of our holiday: The Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) on Lantau Island. Even though it took us ages to go to Lantau Island from Sha Tin by taxi, then queue for 1.5 hours for the bus as the cable car was under maintenance and then we had the scariest bus drive up the mountain of our lives… seeing The Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery was totally worth it! The bus stops in the touristy Ngang Ping Village with a few souvenir shops and from there you can walk almost 300 steps up to the Buddha statue to enjoy amazing views over the Lantau Island mountains.
The Po Lin Monastery hosts several Buddhist temples in amazing colours and golden statues inside.
Around the Monastery there are quite a few, friendly bulls who curiously walk around and are looking for food in the tourists’ bags…
The last evening we enjoyed going to the famous party street Lan Kwai Fong with several small bars and clubs that were busy even on a Monday night. We spent a lot of time in The Keg, which felt like a cosy little pub inside a keg.
Before we flew back to Shanghai on Tuesday, we just enjoyed the nice weather (26 degrees sunshine) relaxing by the outdoor pool amidst nature, which we don’t really have in Shanghai.
Hong Kong, it has been amazing, we’ll be back soon!