Once China Mainland left behind, after the passport control, suddenly people were kind, nice, polite . . . and all spoke English! In the metro, I even took a silent coach to go to the city centre, lol. If I was dead, that was Heaven 🙂
I stayed in Hong Kong for 6 days, one more day than initially planned. I was especially interested in street life and I also tried to look for the contrast of modern /traditional life in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is an archipelago of 234 islands but only few of them are inhabited. It comprises four main areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and the Outlying Island. I was staying at Chungking Mansions, an interesting place well located on Kowloon Island. This is supposedly a 17 storey residential building but it is made up of many independent low budget hostels and shops. It is considered one of the most culturally diverse locations in Hong Kong and object of anthropological studies but I saw basically Indians and Pakistanis. At the beginning I found the place a little bit scary but I got used to it quickly, I called the “little India” of Hong Kong, lol
My Hong Kong visit started at the Museum of History which was a good introduction to the history, culture and ethnography of the archipelago.
In the afternoon Edith joined me for dinner and some sightseeing. I feel very lucky because there is no better way to discover a place than visiting it with a local, especially if this person is as cool as Edith! After dinner she took me to see the Victoria Harbour Seafront which is beautiful at day, night and from different points of view.
On the following day I went to Central on Hong Kong Island, the business part of the city and an interesting place for its busy street life, design sky-scrappers and haute couture shops. In this area the famous double-decker city trams (din din) are still running through the streets since 1904.
With Edith, I also did on Sunday a nice walking tour around Yau Ma Tei and Sheung Wan, looking for something of the Hong Kong past. We started with the Jade Market, a covered area full of stalls selling anything related to jade. There are all kinds, qualities and colors of jade and the ensemble is beautiful to see (I wont’ hide that I love jade!). I found a stall selling jade from Burma, which is the best quality of jade in the world (also known as quality A) and thanks to Edith I could chat with the owner, a man with 40 years of experience in the jade world, and we learnt many interesting things about jade.
The most funny part of the tour was the area around Des Voeux Road and Queen’s Rd Central, famous for its traditional shops: herbal medicines, ginseng roots, dried seafood, bird nests (good for soups!) . . . I was like a curious kid pointing at anything strange to me and thanks to Edith I always had a quick answer to my curiosity, it was great! 🙂
And of course, we also had time to eat traditional: wonton (dumplings soup with noodles) for lunch and a delicious (according to Edith) red bean and lotus seed ice drink at Mido Café, in the afternoon. Opened in 1950, this vintage cha chaan tang (local “tea cafe”) still has its original decoration with mosaic tiles and with the menu still displayed in the traditional way.
The tour finished at Ma Mon Temple, dedicated to the gods of literature and of war and the centre of civil life on the island in the XIX th century. I liked its decoration inside with the incense plates and lanterns, it was different from other temples visited in China, and the contrast of the temple with the contemporary buildings around.
At Central again, I took the legendary Star Ferry for the last time to go back to Kowloon Island. It is only a 10 minutes ride from island to island but it is considered one of the world’s best value cruises. And yes, only for seeing Victoria Harbour again but from another point of view, the sea, it is worth the trip!
My Tips :
- Ferries (Star Ferry included) are cheaper in the week;
- Mido Café: 63 Temple Street, M. Yau Ma Tei;
- All museums in Hong Kong are free on Wednesday;
- I always traveled with a light jacket and a scarf. Hong Kong is hot and they are mad about A/C with insane temperatures on the metro, restaurants and shopping malls.
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About WORLD TRIP PLANNER
Quirky explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to help you plan your dream World Tour!