Hong Kong, China
June 19, 2015 – June 22, 2015
After Yangshuo, we headed to our next destination in China. We boarded our first overnight bus in China for the long ride to the former British colony of Hong Kong, the business capital of the east, and one of the most visited cities in China. Hong Kong, with its blend of ultra modern and traditional lifestyles would be our last stop in China, before heading home.
We took our first sleeper bus in China, from Yangshuo to Shenzhen, China just north of the Hong Kong border. Our sleeper bus had two levels of bunks, three across, one along either side, and a third floating in the middle. Although better than a reclining seat, the metal framed cots were not the most comfortable, and we actually slept very little.
Once in Shenzhen we walked a few blocks to the metro rail and rode that all the way to the border. Even though Hong Kong is now part of China, handed over from the British, it maintains its own governance and customs at the border. Once across the border we took a separate metro rail to the city of Hong Kong.
The city of Hong Kong, is actually separated in two, running along each side of the water way between the mainland and the actual island of Hong Kong. The north side, or mainland side is often called Kowloon, while the island side is Hong Kong proper. Though all of it together is still considered Hong Kong.
We stayed on the mainland side near the Mong Kok metro stop. It is not as upscale as Hong Kong island, but far livelier. There are more people per square kilometer here than most places on earth, and is considered the busiest district in the world by the Guinness Book of World records, with 130,000 people per square kilometer. The buildings are lit up brightly with lights like times square and pedestrians mass along every sidewalk and dominate every street crossing. It is also surprisingly where you can find dozens of small budget hotels and hostels, and some of them are actually decent. We stayed at the Dragon Hostel, and though it was quite small, we were happy with it.
Although Mong Kok is crowded it never felt oppressively so, or difficult to get around. The massive crowds seem to have mastered the art of walking in a pack. This district also has a busy energy not unlike New York, whereas other large cities around the world, and even other districts of Hong Kong, can seem almost deserted or sterile. Plus there is a street nearby that is lined almost completely with pet stores for several blocks, and we found a great highly rated dim sum restaurant just below our hotel.
After dropping off our stuff at the hostel, we headed south to the water and the heart of the city. Most of the city’s mass of skyscrapers line the waterway separating the mainland and island, and a great way to see it all, and cheaply is to take the Star Ferry, across to the other side, rather than the metro which runs underground and under the water.
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong island, or Hong Kong proper is the more ‘British’ part of the city. Street names here are in English and are decidedly British. This part of the city has a much more ‘upscale’ feel, its streets are lined with high end malls, five star restaurants and Ferrari dealerships. The sidewalks are much less crowded here, and the hotel prices skyrocket. It is still easy and fun to explore even on a budget. We took the world’s last double-decker trolly line which runs most of the length of the city, and is a great way to see everything. And for some views from up amongst the buildings we visited one of the many rooftop bars for a sky high view.
Rising above the island of Hong Kong, overlooking the city below, is Victoria Peak. It is a great place to see the city, especially at sunset. It is easy to get there, just take the number 15C city bus, from the Star Ferry Pier. It’s best to get on the bus where it starts, as it fills up quickly, and getting on elsewhere can be a struggle. The bus ride itself offers breathtaking views, as it cuts back and forth up the side of the mountain, and the city recedes in the distance below.
We couldn’t leave Hong Kong without having dim sum for nearly every single meal, and of course trying Peking Duck at least once in China, so we found a highly rated place to try out the roasted delicacy.
Stanley, and the Dragon Boat Races
On the backside of Hong Kong island, on the south side, is the little city of Stanley. It has a much smaller beach home town feel, and it is hard to believe it is just on the other side of the hill from one of the most crowded cities in the world. It is also the home of the yearly Dragon Boat Races, and we happened to visit right when they were going on. So we headed down to the beach to watch the boats race.
After packing up our bags for the final time on our trip we headed to the airport for a final flight back home to Seattle, USA. However we did plan a nice twelve hour layover in Seoul, Korea for some Korean Barbeque. That’s just standard procedure…