I hope you can all hear my enthusiasm in the title, which is just my first attempt to express how much I loved Hong Kong. When I came on exchange, I made it one of my goals to go to Hong Kong. There was no real reason behind that except I love big cities and it's definitely a change of pace from places like Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. I knew this weekend would probably be my last chance to visit HK before the semester ended, but the timing wasn't right for any of my friends to come with because of other planned trips or families coming to visit (jealous). I'm not one to travel alone because I think it's boring, but luckily my friend Kristin is studying there right now who kept me company as we explored parts of Hong Kong that she hadn't even seen yet!
To be honest, I didn't know much about Hong Kong before I got there except that it was a big city that I wanted to visit! I was pretty surprised to fly in and find that there are mountains ALL around as well as bodies of water that separate Hong Kong into different islands. The trip started out with amazing view #1 of Hong Kong on top of the IFC mall where we ate dinner. We then headed to Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), which is THE place to be when the sun goes down. The area was packed with clubs, bars, restaurants, and people of all ages. It's a great place to people watch. Then came along amazing view #2 of Hong Kong which was on top of a rooftop bar in LKF. We didn't stop dancing until they kicked us out, but when we went outside I wouldn't have guessed it was 5am because the streets were still packed with people and most of the food places were 24 hours.
Despite our long night, we woke up at 10am to see the sights! A personal favorite of the trip was the Dim Sum place we went to for breakfast called Maxim's Palace. It was very classy and they even served it the traditional way on trolleys. The next tourist attraction was the Star Ferry. Nothing too crazy, just an exciting, quick, and cheap ferry ride to get from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon (and vice-versa) with a nice view (but not amazing). From there, the day was filled with street markets in Mongkok, malls, the Hong Kong Heritage museum where we saw a Pixar exhibit, and visiting Kristin's campus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Oh, and let's not forget our brave venture of tasting stinky tofu! I had heard of stinky tofu before, but never smelt or tasted it. It was pretty easy to recognize when the scent hit my nostrils. We both tried it and decided it wasn't for us, but it seemed like the locals went crazy for it. Yet another Asian food mystery along with the durian that I will just never understand. Why eat something when it smells that bad? Don't they know that the sensation of flavor is actually a combination of taste and smell? Another less daring food attempt was bird's nest. Eating "bird's nest" is a Chinese delicacy. I know what you're thinking... twigs and sticks and feathers and leaves, but that's not what it is. I'm not exactly sure of all the ingredients, but I know a large part of it it bird's saliva. That might not sound much more appetizing, but we cheated and had it in a frozen mango drink, so I couldn't tell you what it actually tastes like. Finally, we ended the day with some VERY fresh seafood. Fun fact of the day: At many Chinese restaurants, it is common and necessary for you to wash your own dishes with hot water that they provide. I was an amateur, but at least Kristin knew what was going on.
|Dim Sum at Maxim's|
|Chinese medicine shop|
|Near the Ladies' market in Mongkok|
The next morning, we were up at 6:30am! This time it wasn't because we were out partying, but to take a stroll through the Botanical and Zoological Gardens to watch many people practice Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art! This was another highlight of my trip. One guy even had a sword he was doing some moves with. We weren't gutsy enough to join in on the fun, but it was worth seeing. After going back to sleep, we took a walking tour of the Western district. This included some really nice malls, some really random and weird malls, riding the double decker trams (which are often called 'Ding Ding' because of the noise they make), watching fishes get ruthlessly smashed and scaled at the Sheung Wan Market, and seeing the many neighborhoods of Hong Kong. We visited the Man Mo Temple where I REALLY wanted to get my fortune told, but it cost a fortune (pun intended)! I also got the chance to try some great egg tarts, which originated in Hong Kong as well as a cup of coffee that took about five minutes to brew by siphon making it "deliciously smooth". I am far from a coffee connoisseur, but it was good. To end the day, we walked along avenue of the stars where the only stars I knew were Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, and then watched 'A Symphony of Lights' - Hong Kong's skyline light show. The Hong Kong skyline is THE most impressive skyline I have ever seen and watching the light show was amazing view #3. Very beautiful.
|Tai chi at the botanical gardens|
|Haha. Ew. Welcome to China.|
|Egg tart. nom nom nom.|
|World's longest covered escalators in SoHo.|
|About half of the skyline. nbd.|
After the light show, Kristin and I had a little farewell dinner at a sushi place, something we both have a love for. I'm so glad she was able to spend the weekend with me and show me around Hong Kong. She was great company and it was fantastic to see a familiar face on this side of the world. My final day there I was off to fend for myself. I headed up to Victoria Peak for amazing view #4. It was a beautiful day, but things were a little hazy. I'm not sure if it was just the Hong Kong pollution or if it was just foggy. Either way, it was still pretty. After the peak I strolled around Hong Kong Park and people watched. It was gorgeous. I loved being in a garden with flowers and waterfalls, and then looking around me and seeing sky scrapers.
|At the peak!|
|Above and below: Hong Kong Park|
In conclusion, Hong Kong is awesome. Hands down, one of my favorite places in Asia thus far. I feel like I could live there. It has a lot of culture, and I love the hustle and bustle of the city life. It's visually stunning with the modern skyscrapers combined with mountains and Victoria Harbor. SO glad I made the last minute trip.
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