I am fairly sure that most people could do and see most of the things we did and saw in Hong Kong in a day, or maybe a couple of days. But we had just finished a the busy tour of China that you have just finished reading about and were about to start the tour of Mongolia we are on as I write this. So we decided to take things easy in Hong Kong.
We arrived in Hong Kong on our Essential China tour, and after settling into our hotel and some dinner we headed straight to the water front, where a fantastic view awaited us.
As it was our last night together as a group we spent a lot of time at the waterfront just chatting. We all decided to wait there for the sun to set and the light show to start. While the lit up waterfront was indeed a sight to behold, the light show itself was nothing to write home about.
We also saw the first of some cool scuptures around the city that night as well.
We spent a lot of time in parks, the first morning on our own we wandered through Kowloon Park, there was a lot more to the park than there is at home. We saw an aviary with various parrots, horn bills and pigeons in it as well as a bird lake which seemed to mostly have flamingos in it. The flamingoes looked strange, I think because they were greater flamingos and we are used to seeing smaller ones, but their necks seemed to bend in every direction possible.
There were also various viewpoints including a “castle of unity” which had guns outside it. There was a huge fitness complex with some outdoor swimming pools, a sculpture garden and some fountains.
During our stay we returned to Kowloon Park a few times as we were staying near by to start off with, one of these was because we had heard about a Kung Fu show that takes place in the park on a Sunday afternoon. The Kung Fu show was not quite what we expected as it was less aimed at tourists and more a show for the kids who were learning Kung Fu to show off what they have been learning to their parents. There was a lot of Wing Chung, which I thought would make my husband happy as he is a big fan of the Ip Man films, however it turns out that it is not as interesting to watch when both the fighters are using the same style.
We also visited Hong Kong Park, which similarly had an aviary but instead of a bird lake it had a walk in aviary which was really fun. There were a big variety of birds, most of which I wouldn’t be able to identify, but a lot of them came very close and sat on the banister of the walkway and because the walkway was so high up you were often looking down on the birds which was a new perspective.
We spent an afternoon sitting and chilling in a Tai Chi garden in Hong Kong Park which was really relaxing, although I did manage to get eaten alive by mosquitos as I hadn’t put enough repellent on, some of the bites ended up swelling to the diameter of a tennis ball in width.
Of course we did the typical tourist thing of getting the tram up to Victoria Peak. We had to queue a long time because we hadn’t had the energy to follow the advice we had of going early in the morning and hadn’t been organised enough to order tickets in advance. Once we got through the queue the tram ride itself was quite enjoyable as we got a seat between the two of us. The tram is on a funicular system and I believe it is one of the oldest in Asia.
Our ticket included using the viewing platform, which was called the Sky Terrace, at the complex called The Peak at top of the tram. The Peak is basically a mall at the top of the tram which seemed to follow a theme since there are malls at almost every turn in Hong Kong. But I will say the views from the Sky Terrace are fabulous. It is a shame there is no where up there to sit in the shade otherwise we would have spent a lot longer on there. I guess it could be strategic planning that there is not such a place to try to get as big a throughput of people as possible.
When we returned from the viewing platform we investigated the rest of the mall, found some lunch and also some smaller terraces which you didn’t have to pay to visit. We also had a bit of fun at the 3D photo experience, which basically consisted on things painted on walls or floors to look three dimensional when taken as a photo with someone posing in front of it.
We decided to venture outside of The Peak and followed some signs to Victoria Park, continuing our park theme, assuming that we would get some nice views. However, the first part of the park that we found was actually in a small valley, it was pleasant enough and had a very colonial feel to it. I could just imagine the ladies in their corsets with their lace parasols wandering around the place. It was there we saw the largest dog I think I have seen in my life, it looked like a bear, so goodness knows how it was handling the heat I was barely managing in. The dog had two leads and a muzzle so two people were walking it, I felt quite sorry for it as the two walking it seemed to be stopping it from doing normal dog like things like sniffing the ground.
Eventually we came to a part of Victoria Park which did have wonderful views and these were of the opposite side of the island than we had been seeing before.
As we returned to The Peak, we decided that it was so close to nightfall we may as well stay and see the lights come on. We waited on one of the platforms that we had found earlier in the day and while we waited I got some fabulous shots of the city in the setting sun.
After dark fell we decided we may as well wait for the light show, but were underwhelmed again. The city with its lights on was so breathtaking that the show couldn’t add much more.
Slightly less park like and more what I imagine would be more hollywood reminiscent was the garden of the stars wich had as the biggest highlight a statue of Bruce Lee. There were a few other statues of celebrities from Hong Kong and mounted on plaques there were many hand prints set in concrete with the signature of Chinese and Hong Kongese Stars. I found out that my hands are roughly the same size as Jet Lee’s and that Jacky Chan has very spread fingers. My husband was disappointed we didn’t find Donnie Yen’s plaque due to the aforementioned Ip Man fandom.
One of our least park like activities was when my husband dragged me to a bouldering wall. I do a bit of climbing with him at home, but I would still consider myself a beginner and due to this being bouldering rather than simply climbing I soon found that the routes were far beyond my skill, but my husband enjoyed himself.
Following the climbing it was my choice on where to go, since it was in the area I decided that we should go to Repulse Bay which had been recommended to us by a friend. It isn’t exactly a park but it a place to relax outdoors so I think it can count to our park theme. My husband had not been the most keen on the idea as he grew up near the beach in Scotland, but once he arrived he declared that “this isn’t too bad actually”. It was beautiful.
We chilled for a bit sitting on the sand and then went for a paddle in the surf. We didn’t go for a swim as it had been more of an unplanned decision and so weren’t prepared with our swimming stuff.
We decided to stay and watch the sun set (which we seemed to do in a lot of places in Hong Kong) and were rewarded with some spectacular views.
Our last activity in Hong Kong was to go to Lantau Island to see the Tian Tan Buddha. We had initially thought to hike up to the buddha, however we soon found that it was too hot and humid that day for that hike.
We returned to our starting point and got the gondola up, which took about half an hour, so it is quite a long way. There was the option to get a gondola with a glass floor, but both my husband and I decided that would be terrifying so we went for the standard gondola. There was enough to look at without the glass bottom as we made our way up and across the mountains.
We also got our first view of the buddha from the gondola and it was immense. I had seen photos before, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the scale. The Tian Tan Buddha is the largest bronze buddha in the world and though it is not as large as the Leshan Buddha we saw in China, I found the Tian Tan Buddha more striking. It could be because it is free-standing, it could be because it is slightly more modern, it could be the eyes.
Once we got off the gondola, we had to go past the obligatory photo selling point and through a gift shop. On exiting the gift shop I was surprised to find a full on village at the top of the mountain. I feel this village was there for the sole purpose of catering to tourists, we saw Subway and Starbucks as well as “Walking with Buddha”, other shows and souvenir shops.
Wandering around the village were rather randomly some cows, I am still not sure why they were there or who they belonged to, but they were certainly drawing the tourists too them. I wouldn’t go too close with those horns.
We finally came to the approach to the temple and buddha, as we went along the walkway we were watched by the protector gods, we made it through so they must have seen our intentions were not bad.
We came to the temple complex, which unfortunately due to our earlier attempted hike, we didn’t have time to explore, we turned the corner and the buddha which had been present throughout our village stroll was suddenly in front of us.
Looking up the stairs to the buddha, I felt a sense of awe, there was something much more spiritual about this buddha somehow. The sky was moving behind his head and his eyes seemed to look at you. He was beautiful and serene and it brought out a serenity in myself as well.
We climbed the stairs to the buddha, with a few stops for photos (not to catch my breath, honest) and once we reach the top we took even more photos. The crowd around was an interesting mix of tourists and people who had come to pray.
We circumnavigated the buddha, looking around at the other statues and the views to be had. Once you were out of the gaze of the buddha, it lost a lot of power.
We met a dog on our way round, which we could only guess belonged to the temple because he was wandering around on his own like he owned the place.
Finally we made our way back down the mountain and back to our hostel, drawing our Hong Kong adventure to a close. I will admit that Hong Kong is not my favourite place that we have been to so far, but I am glad we experienced it.
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