Monday, 10 March 2014

Hong Kong

I left my flat with my big backpack and the tail end of a particularly bad dose of man flu, and 1 bus and 2 trains later I was sitting in the bar in the departure lounge at Birmingham International Airport. I had 3 bottles of tsingahha – a Chinese beer, to get me in the vibe for my next big adventure. My Emirates flight to Dubai was comfortable and uneventful.

 I started watching 12 years a slave, but got thoroughly depressed so abandoned that and watched some Steve Coogan stand up instead. Comedy Gold! We landed at Dubai on schedule and 2 and a half hours later was off again to my first destination. I continued the Steve Coogan theme by watching Philomena and the menu took on an oriental twist, as I headed to Hong Kong! By now I’d been awake for over 24 hours and attempted a few powernaps. Luckily the plane was only half full, so there was plenty of room to lie down.

We landed on time at 9pm, and it was a quick process to get through immigration and out of the airport. I caught the A11 bus outside the airport terminal (40$HK) which took me to Wan Chai Fire station, near to my Hostel – Yessinn @ Causeway bay. I found the Hostel easily and checked in. I’m here for 3 nights in a mixed 21 bed dorm (cost HKD170$ a night) . I’m on the top bunk of 3. The room was pretty dark and a few people were trying to sleep, so I left my bag and went out for a bit of an explore.

 It was warm and humid and I found a local restaurant/café for a quick snack. It was full of locals with no tourists so it was a good choice. I had a shrimp fried rice dish and soda for 58$HK. It was tasty and excellent value. I was getting tired, as I still hadn’t slept, so I went back to my hostel to try and get a bit of sleep.

I managed about 5 hours and woke up at about 7 Am. It was light, so I managed to sort out my backpack and have a shower. I went out for a wander and came across another local café to have a Chinese seafood noodle soup breakfast. All very good and only came to 40$HK with an iced tea.

I caught the number 40 bus outside my hostel across Hong Kong Island to Stanley  on the other side. The bus went through tunnels under the mountains of Hong Kong and we reached the more tranquil side of Hong Kong. It was in a nice bay with a market and a promenade with temples and sandy beaches.The scenery was stunning.

 After a while I caught the 6 bus back towards Central, stopping off at Repulse Bay, another gorgeous sandy bay with manicured trees and plants. The sea looked calm and clear, but maybe a bit too cool for a dip! I walked around for a while before jumping back on the bus.  I finally reached Cheung Kong centre – the nearest stop to the peak tram. The office blocks around here were incredible, some magnificent modern architecture. I was developing a bit of neck ache through looking up so much!

I bought a tram ticket for HKD80$ and waited in the queue for about 40 minutes. The tram took me up the steep hill of Hong Kong Island, through the mid levels, and on up to the peak. The tram ticket included access to the viewing tower at the top of the peak. The views up there were out of this world. Absolutely incredible……….

I had a beer and some calamari, at a restaurant called Bubba Gum Shrimp Co, in the mall up there looking over the skyscrapers below. Expensive beer and snack HKD147$ but definitely worth it for the view from my seat…..

I caught the tram back down to Central and had a bit of a walk round the skyscrapers until I found Central MTR. This was the metro line that would take me back near to my hostel. I got off the metro at Causeway bay, and out onto the street at Times Square, where some man dressed as a woman was being filmed!

 I got a couple of bottles of water and a can of beer to take back to my dorm, to chill for a bit, and shower before going out to meet my Hong Kong buddy Pinky! I'd had a lot of help planning my trip off Pinky, a local girl who i've been chatting to via Travbuddy. We've been chatting for some time now, and I was so excited about meeting her for the first time!

I caught the Ding Ding (Tram) outside my Hostel to Central, the area where Pinky worked. We met up at the tram stop… and we chatted over a few beers in a Garden terrace overlooking the harbour at a bar called Red near the IFC in Central. It was Hong Kong Happy hour - drinks half price! She’s great company and  a lovely girl, very smart and articulate, and fluent in Chinese, English and Thai.

She took me to one of her favourite restaurants in the  Central district. A local Chinese restaurant called Wah Fung. We ordered Crispy Pork, Crispy Duck and Beef fried rice, and I made her laugh with my attempts at
using the Chopsticks! It tasted delicious however I had a terrible stomach pain for the next 24 hours! Not sure whether it was down to jet lag or a bug I’d caught, but the cramps and bloated feeling were terrible.

 Before they started we went on the mid escalators to a great lively and trendy  bar called iberia & Co in the Soho area. Its managed by her Thai friend called Nok, and I was made to feel welcome. I felt like a local!! Then we went onto the Wan Chai area where Pinky pointed out a few more of the better bars. We caught a taxi back to my hostel, and she went on home to her place in Kowloon.

I didn’t sleep well, a combination of jetlag and the stomach pains disturbed my sleep, but I got a few hours in, and got up at 9 am. I caught the MTR line from Causeway bay, and changed lines at Central to take me to Lantau Island. I’d pre-booked a ride on a glass cable NP360 car up the hills of the island to ngong ping, where there’s a monastery and an amazing Big Buddha statue on top of the Hill.

 The place was very calm and relaxing. I started off wandering through the village and stopped off for a
traditional Chinese Herbal tea at Linong Tea House. I chose a tea called Flying Snow containing Calendula and Finger citron, that's supposed to smooth an aching stomach. It was quite a ritual the way it was served and presented. It came in a glass jug with a bright yellow flower inside which unfolded as hot water was added. The cups were thimble sized and the tea was refreshing.

You could see the huge bronze Buddha statue called Tian Tan  perched high up on the hill. There was a long flight of stairs which led up to the top. The Buddha was surrounded by other Buddhist statues  with great views over the surrounding hills.

I went back down the steps to Ngong Ping Village where there were many shrines and the Po Lin Monastery -  a Buddhist temple set in nice gardens. It was a spectacular  place to watch the people light the Incense sticks and pray to Buddha.

 I caught the cable car back to the bottom, and then the number 11 bus to an old traditional Chinese fishing village called Tai O. It was way over on the far side of the island. I went on a boat trip for 20$ which took us through the village, past stilted buildings, and then out into the South China Sea. A Pink dolphin kept coming to the surface to greet us! Fantastic setting! The boat took me back and I wondered through the markets and shops of Tai O. A great Photo opportunity. The food looked delicious and you could see it being prepared in front of you.

I caught the 21 bus back across Lantau to the islands Ferry terminal at Mui Wo , and then the High speed Ferry across the seas back to Hong Kong Island. I'd arranged to meet up with Pinky again for a coffee after she finished work. We met up in the Mall to have skinny Latte (our favourite) and a biscuit and to chat about our day.  I was still suffering with my stomach so I headed back to the Hostel about 9pm for a quick 20 minute session in the Massage chair in reception before going to bed to try and catch up on my sleep.

Success! I slept until 8.00 am and my stomach had improved. I’m checking out this morning to move to the Crown Plaza Hotel over in Kowloon, and to spend the weekend with Pinky, who’s going to show me around the sites of Kowloon!

I caught the Island line MTR to North Point and changed to Tseung Kwan O Line to meet up with Pinky. we managed to find one another on the train! We found our hotel and checked into our room at the Crowne Plaza and got a result with an upgrade into a deluxe room high up on the 62nd floor. We had a great view over the surrounding area.  We had a toast and coffee breakfast in the mall next to the hotel and headed off into the heart of Kowloon.

 Pinky was the perfect guide for the day, showing me around the sites of Kowloon. We caught the Kwun Tong MTR line and started off at a temple called Wong tai Sin. It was stunning. Surrounded by tower blocks it was a peaceful oasis in the heart of Hong Kong. It was full of people going through prayer rituals and lighting incense sticks.

We then jumped back on the MTR a few more stops and got off at Prince Edward. We walked the streets through the flower markets, full of men buying flowers for their wives or girlfriends (had they all being naughty boys?!)  and then onto the bird markets. this area was full of wonderful coloured caged birds and men walking up and down taking their "bird" for a walk!

We walked on  through Mong Kok and its market streets. The chinese signs on buildings added to the vibrant atmosphere of Hong Kong. These different street sold all sorts.....some were dedicated to selling fish (as pets) others were full off puppies (again thankfully for pets)

We carried on down Nathan road, stopping off to share some Spicy Fish balls at a street food stall, which by the way were absolutely delicious! By this stage we had walked a fair bit and Pinky suggested we stopped off for some Green Tea Ice cream at another Mall. Not a flavour i have tried before, but it was so tasty!

There are so many Malls in Hong Kong. All immaculate with designer stores, food courts and marble floors. After our break we walked onto the clock tower and the Avenue of Stars at the harbour. The promenade has various statues and celebrity names on tiles in the pathway. After a coffee at Starbucks, we looked out across the harbour looking over to Hong Kong Island. The view was mesmerising.

 We booked a harbour boat trip for 7.50pm to watch the symphony of lights show, but had an hour to kill so we decided to buy a lottery ticket for tonights draw. We found a Jockey Club betting shop, and bought 2 HKD10$ lines!  We have made a lot of travel plans together so a win would be nice!

The boat trip started on time, ready for the lights show which was played out on the huge skyscrapers that lined the sides of the harbour. It was a memorable sight, and I had perfect company.

We walked back up through Kowloon through the night market at Temple Street and had a meal at a side food stall. A delicious clay pot of pork fried rice, fried squid and a cool beer. The area was exciting and full of locals.  We carried onto the fortune tellers! I had my palm and face read. Apparently I have a big Ego, I’m a playboy and I should avoid water sports! I am popular with the ladies and will have a daughter before I’m 47! Pinky had her tarot cards read. We were pretty shattered by now so went back to our suite at the hotel.

We had a much deserved lie in and went out at midday for my last day. I left my bags at the office block were Pinky works in Central. She took me to a local Chinese restaurant, called Majesty Seafood in Central. We  had a delicious Dim Sum mix. Its called going for "yum Cha" in Cantonese. The food was sublime. It was a delicious platter of food including steamed BBQ pork rice noodle balls, fried and boiled cabbage, majesty steam shrimp dumpling and finally deep fried fresh shrimp spring roll. Eaten clumsily with chopsticks by me and washed down with a traditional Chinese tea!

 We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Hong Kong Park and stopped off for a few coffees on the way.  The area around Central becomes a big Philipino Picnic on a Sunday, when all the migrant house maids are given a day off to socialise with their friends.

We went to the airport on the A11 bus and said our goodbyes. I’ve found a lovely girl in Pinky, one in a million, who has given me so much help in planning my trip, and had such fun together. We will be meeting up again                                                                                            


My other travel blogs can be found here......Please click on link  below!

Cappadocia Blog here

North India

South India


Euro-Rail Trip

Baltic Blog







  1. Hello,
    I live in HONG KONG.
    Do you feel interesting during your stay?
    You missed one place -- Sai Kung, we called it "Back Garden of HK".
    See you in the coming future.

  2. Thanks for reading and your comments Gavin....I've looked up Sai Kung and will definitely give the area a visit in one of my future visits to HongKong....Actually there are loads more places I want to visit there!