I’ve been meaning to write about my Hong Kong trip for months now. It’s been postponed for nearly 5 months. Oh well, better late than never.
I was in Hong Kong from 27 December 2010 till 1st January 2011. A good 6 days and 5 nights I must say. Initially before I went there, I didn’t know what to expect. I know Hong Kong is one of the Asian tigers and I imagined it to be very developed; similar to Singapore. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
Day 1 (Monday, 27th December 2010)
We arrived in Hong Kong Airport around 9AM. The airport is, as I expected it to be, massive and modern. From there, we took the Airport Express Line to Hong Kong Station, which is on Hong Kong Island.
Note: click on images to enlarge
I was shocked to discover the Airport Express Line made us cross 3 islands under water! From Lantau Island (this is where the airport is located), to Tsing Yi Island, to Kowloon, and then finally Hong Kong Island. From Hong Kong station, we took a cab to Wan Chai. We could have taken the MTR but we had large bags to carry around.
Over the next few hours of exploring the city, I got the shock of my life to see how advanced Hong Kong really is. Their skycrapers, their public infrastructures, the amazing MTR, the public transport system, how systematic the people are, everything is just mind-blowing. They are definitely way ahead of Singapore in terms of development (which is my initial benchmark of an advanced South East Asian country). It’s a good thing I stayed there for 6 days as the shock really took a while to settle in.
We stayed in Wan Chai (one of the districts in Hong Kong), at one of our friend’s apartment. The friend had a nice cozy place on Queen’s Road. The unit was on the 27th floor, which is very high by Malaysian standards. From the apartment’s balcony, I could see other buildings around us were much taller. It’s amazing to see tall buildings being quite near to each other and each of them are about 30-40 stories high (photo below)
After we settled in, our sight seeing started off immediately. The girlfriend had been to Hong Kong before, therefore she’s quite familiar getting around on the MTR. Our 1st day itinerary was:
- The Peak Tram
- Explore the City and its amazing buildings (including the business district)
- Mong Kok (in Kowloon)
Just like my trip to Saigon, I brought along an Insight Guides for Hong Kong. These Insight Guides books are just awesome. They have detailed city maps, including public transports, and all the key attractions that one must not miss. Get it whenever you plan for your next trip!
We headed to The Peak Tram. There was a long queue. I guess that is expected for a tourist hotspot. We waited in the queue for nearly 30 minutes before being able to purchase the tickets. The tram ride up to the peak took about 15-20 minutes. Along the way, we were able to see various apartment types and other older buildings in Hong Kong. Nearer to the top, we had a very nice view of Hong Kong. The peak had a long history as Hong Kong’s main attraction even from the British days. Read further at its wiki page here.
At the peak, we explored the various markets and malls they have. After having lunch at a nearby cafe, we went up the Peak Tower to the Sky Terrace. The Sky Terrace is located at the top of the Peak Tower. It gave us a 360 degree view of Hong Kong. The view was breathtaking! I could just imagine how it would look like at night.
After we took photos from all possible angles, we headed down. Our next destination was the city center. We took the MTR. I am seriously amazed with the MTR. Its efficiency, speed, cleanliness, network, everything, they got it right. We visited the business district and saw a number of famous buildings including the Bank of China, the HSBC headquarters, the Landmark, an along the way, we saw the 2-storey tram!
The Landmark is home to a large number of prestigious international brands, similar in stature to Star Hill in Kuala Lumpur.
From The Landmark, we took the nearest MTR and headed straight to Mong Kok, which is located in Kowloon (refer to the MTR map above for reference). Upon stepping out from Mong Kon MTR station, I was again in shock (yes, I was in constant shock throughout this trip). I felt like I was in one of Jackie Chan’s movies. The hustle and bustle, the packed crowds, everything, it feels straight out from a movie!
We explored the streets, and later wandered into Ladies Market. The Ladies Market, (despite its name) is actually a market selling all sorts of goods. It’s located on Tung Choi Street. They sold t-shirts, jackets, accessories, toys, souvenirs etc. The key is to bargain as you’ll definitely get a good price. Never take it as it is. I bought a number of souvenirs for family members at home.
After exploring Mong Kok for a few hours, we headed back to Hong Kong island. This time, we took the ferry. We are able to enjoy the beautiful view of Hong Kong’s evening skyline.
Check out the photo above taken from the ferry. Absolutely beautiful!