Not Really a Blog

January 7, 2012

Around Hong Kong

Filed under: Hong Kong, Travel — Tags: , , — jesus @ 17:05

There are a few spots around Hong Kong that are worth visiting. Or it seemed to me. One of them is Lantau Island, going up to see Tian Tan Buddha. You can go up there with buses or a fancy cable car. Some of these cars have a crystal clear ground so you can have a nice view during the trip. It’s actually not that impressive as once the novelty wears off you no longer look down, to be honest.

 
Cable Car

One of the nice views you get from using this method is Hong Kong International Airport, which is impressive. It was a shame that on the day I was going up, the weather was not so good (an indication of what was coming next) so the fog prevented me from even taking a single good picture.
After half an hour approximately you arrive to the top of the mountain where you can go and visit the giant Buddha. The whole place was a bit disappointed for me as it was way too touristy and the buddha itself was not that shiny. Probably if the day had been nicer and with blue skies, it would have been better.

Tian Tan Buddha

The other interesting (to a point) thing that I found was Ocean Park. It is like a Disney land but with aquariums and other animals from China. I passed on all the attractions as I was more interested in seeing the pandas and jellyfish than anything else. After a bus ride I arrived to Ocean Park and was able to see these animals :)

Red Panda

Cute, isn’t it? :)

There were two Giant Pandas and two other pandas, if I remember correctly. They were far away chewing happily away from curious eyes.

Panda Bear

But what really impressed me was the jellyfish section. You had to take a nice ride on a cable car up the mountain where there is another section that you can visit. There they have the jellyfish and other stuff like a rollercoaster, etc.

Cable Car

The jellyfish was dramatic, with fantastic colours thanks to the lighting they had there, mesmerizing. Beautiful.

Jelly fish II

and the star was a sea dragon:

Sea Dragon

Which was absolutely beautiful to watch, as its moves were very graceful :)

I don’t know whether I would go again to this park, maybe if it were a bit hotter and had time for it. I was definitely more interested in watching the animals than all the other stuff, as they were more children oriented.

Now, to finish, let me go a bit back to Hong Kong island and Kowloon. This is something I found late during my trip and I think it’s worth the advise. There is a train that takes you from Kowloon to Central Station (on Hong Kong Island) that costs like $6/8. Very convenient. But there’s a ferry that you can take that costs only $3 and takes 10 minutes. From it you can have an amazing view of both Kowloon and Hong Kong island. I forgot to talk about this on my last post.

 

Ferry

Totally worth it.

Things that I learned here.

  • I seem to need a suit.
  • I also seem to need a fake rolex watch.
  • Feet massage too.
  • Not a lot of people speak English, or well, not as much as I was expecting given that this was a British colony.
  • Dim Sum are amazing and cheap.
  • Not so sure the electronic shops are that worth it.
  • Hong Kong is expensive.
  • Did I say I need a suit and a watch?
  • Chungking Mansions is not as bad as it looks.
  • I’m definitely getting a new suit. I have a watch that I like. When I get back.

Summary:

It was good fun coming here and being exposed to a mix of western and chinese culture. I would probably come again in a few years, maybe, with hotter weather so that I can really see things that I didn’t see when I was there. And more relaxed. So, in summary, yeah, I would probably come back, but no rush to come back.

Exploring Hong Kong

Filed under: Hong Kong, Travel — Tags: , , — jesus @ 09:35

Having fought jet lag enough to keep myself up for just the right amount of time, I decided to stay in Hong Kong for a few days so that I could have a look at this city and also be able to fully recover from jet lag.

The areas that I have visited include Kowloon, Lantau Island, and Hong Kong island, including a visit to Ocean Park on the other side of the island to see what it was about.

The first thing you notice when you get to Hong Kong is invariably its skyline:

Some examples:
Reflections
Skyline 2
Massiveness II

Bank of China building

which is quite impressing on the first sight. Then you kind of get used to it. It looks as if there’s some kind of competition to see which building rises higher in this town, on both Kowloon and Hong Kong island. And this seems not to be limited to office buildings but also to apartment blocks. I wonder how many people live on one of these buildings.

Massiveness III

It would be certainly interesting to have a look inside of these buildings, really. But that was not possible. The only thing you could do is visit a couple of skyscrapers which had a sky deck from which you could watch Hong Kong. I was lucky to visit one of them on my last day as it was only possible to visit them during office hours. The good thing is that you don’t have to pay anything.
High up III
But the visit was really worth it.

The best view however can be seen from Kowloon and Peak Mountain. From Kowloon you can watch a light show every day at 20:00. This involves music and some fancy stuff with lasers and lights between the buildings on Hong Kong island and Kowloon. Pretty impressive:

Hong Kong skyline light show I

More Skyline

If you go up to The Peak, this is where you can have the best views. It’s a nice ride on a tram. The best moment to go is right before sunset, so you can see a really nice sunset and then see how the buildings in Hong Kong light up for the night until it’s completely dark. This is when you get, in my opinion, the best view.

Sunset 2

HK Skyline 7

HK Skyline 3

It feels so nice that one could happily stay for a good couple of hours just watching this :-)

But Hong Kong is not only this, its streets are full of people, street markets and other kind of markets where you can find absolutely everything, from electronics, to feet massage, from good eateries to crappy restaurants, and of course, all the people trying to sell you something when they spot you are not of asian descent. Funny.
Street Market

Lights

And then you have the Chungking Mansions, with its spacious rooms and no windows:

3 in 1

This is the kind of toilet you would get in many places in Asia, but here it’s at its maximum. In Chungking Mansions you get a tiny room with a small window leading to a hole and a small bath which is actually 3 in one. You have the shower head over the toilet and at hand you have the sink. It takes a bit to get used to this and once you use the shower the floor is flooded so you can’t really use the bathroom for much, so you have to do your stuff in order very carefully ;-) Mind you that that photo was taken with a wide angle lens, so it’s smaller than it looks like!

Anyway, this looks like a fun city, possibly to come again and visit with a bit more of time and when it’s warmer so you can plan a couple of trips to the beach and at the same time explore what this city, which looks like a city from Blade Runner, can offer at night.

December 27, 2011

Landing in Hong Kong

Filed under: Hong Kong, Travel — Tags: , , , — jesus @ 16:36

It’s been two weeks since I embarked on this trip, arriving to Hong Kong on the 14th of December and haven’t had time to blog much about this, so let’s see a bit of Hong Kong action here.

I arrived semi jet-lagged (as I happily managed to get a couple of hours sleep on the plane) I jumped on a bus to Kowloon where I met Aurélien, a Belgian guy who was moving to Australia and decided to take a look at Hong Kong for a few days. I actually thought this was going to be easy, meeting people on the road. How wrong that seems so far…

Anyway, I had reserved a guesthouse in the infamous Chungking Mansions. A quick google images search can show some alarming photos. I was actually not sure whether to book or not on this place, but finally I decided that if other people trusted this fire trap, why not me?

I was expecting to find something similar to the images I had seen on the internet, but I was gladly disappointed that the whole thing had been renovated. Reading about it on the internet brings many complaints about it; People around it (more about that later) and the lift. The lift was a constant theme among these complaints.

The thing is that Chunking Mansions is a super mega block of flats? transformed into guesthouses by their owners, so it looks. There are two lifts, one for the even floors and another for the odd floors. Given the amount of people who must be ‘living‘ at any given moment in these guesthouses, it’s logical that the lift is always creating queues of people trying to go up. I personally didn’t find it too annoying and you usually get to your room in less than 10 minutes.

Ok, got there, checked in, got to my room, now the difficult part was to head out and avoid the temptation to crash on the bed, so that I could actually dodge jetlag. So, determined to win this, I met up with Aurélien and go out on an exploration evening around Hong Kong.

‘Do you want a copy watch, sir?’

First time I was approached by someone trying to sell me a fake Rolex watch. What? Fake Rolex? What is it with that? Who wants a fake Rolex? Do you get laid more if you have a fake Rolex? I don’t get it.

Anyway, ‘no thanks‘ I replied. Not having finished my sentence, there was another guy wearing a suit that looked tacky:

‘Special tailored suits, sir, please follow me’.
Err, do I look to you like I want a suit? No thanks.

Now, this was something I didn’t know at the time, but I was going to get dead tired of hearing the same over and over for the next few days…

Anyway, we go around, try to have dinner at a restaurant/eatery
Soup

By the way, that thing you see on the right is a local tea with some kind of milk that tasted like dead rat. The wonton soup was really good though :)

Then head to see Hong Kong island and have a beer looking at the absolutely gorgeous skyline of Hong Kong island before heading back to the hostel we were staying and crash, happily.
Harbour

Let the adventure start…

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