Hong Kong is an energetic melting pot of the western world and the Far East. There’s no city quite like it. I don’t think it’d be out of bounds to call it a gateway to modern Asia in fact. A British colony until 1999, it is now considered a Special Autonomous Region of China, who allow the Hong Kong government a bit of freedom in handling their own affairs.
Hong Kong consists of a few different parts: Lantau, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, and the New Territories. Lantau is and island to the west and contains, among other things, Hong Kong International Airport, Disneyland, and the Tian Tan Buddha (also called the Big Buddha). From the airport, you can either take taxis out to the myriad destinations on Lantau or hop on public transit to the rest of Hong Kong.
When I got to the airport, I took advantage of Cathay Pacific’s Arrivals lounge to shower up and grab some caffeine. It was morning the day after I left and I was jetlagging like whoa. The public transit system uses a card called an Octopus to travel with, sort of like an Oyster in London or the…whatever it’s called…in NYC. You can pick up the cards at the airport and it really makes everything pretty easy.
I took the airport train into Kowloon, which was a nice and relaxing 30 minute ride. I exited at Kowloon station in a mall and made my way out to the humidity…I’m sorry, out to the street. Kowloon has the prodigious shopping area called Tsim Sha Tsui and many of the higher-end hotels. It’s easy to get lost in the labyrinthine streets, but I eventually made my way down to Victoria Harbour, which cuts between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island (see above). The easiest way of crossing the harbour (spelled Britishly) is by taking a Star Ferry. Star Ferry runs large boats back and forth across the harbour for an absolute pittance, it’s really nice that they don’t charge what they could get away with (10x what they charge now).
The first thing I think you’ll notice about Hong Kong are the absolutely enormous amount of skyscrapers. Everywhere you look, skyscraper.
Yep, more skyscrapers. What’s that under that newspaper in the street? Yep, another skyscraper.
Hong Kong Island is where a lot of the big international corporations call home. There are also innumerable residence buildings on this island, in the form of…you guessed it…skyscrapers. Hong Kong Island also features Victoria Peak, which provides a great view over the city (especially at night when the lights are turned on).
As I was walking towards the Peak tram, I tripped on two or three skyscrapers and then came upon a church, which seemed out of place in the middle of such a commercial area but it had a nice peace about it so I relaxed here for a bit.
I made my way closer to the tram and saw some nice side streets with lush vegetation. And skyscrapers.
I finally made it to the Peak Tram by following a map in about 6 circles until an elderly lady just started pointing at a street and yelling “UP” from across the street at me. I clearly remember wanting to say back “YES, IT WAS A GREAT MOVIE, I ENJOYED IT A LOT, ESPECIALLY THE OPENING SCEoh you’re saying go up this street”. So I walked up the street she pointed at and found the tram.
I purchased a ticket to the top and settled in on the tram train that took us to the Peak Complex. Peak Complex, in this context, is a fancy word for “shopping mall”. There are about 6 stories of commerce to get through once the tram makes it to the top, including everyone’s favorite authentic Hong Kong restaurant, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I was appalled at the idea of traveling all the way around the world just to eat at a Bubba Gump place, so I went instead to Burger King across the way for lunch.
After lunch, I waited through a brief rain, then took some pictures of Hong Kong. And by Hong Kong, yes, I mean skyscrapers.
In the above picture, the tall building on the left, across the harbour, is the International Commerce Centre, or ICC. It’s the tallest building in Hong Kong and I believe the 6th tallest in the world. The tall building to the right on Hong Kong Island is No.2 International Finance Centre, which has to settle for being only the 18th tallest building in the world. pfff
For no apparent reason I thought I’d do one of those Overly Artistic Look Like I’m Crushing Something Due To Perspective shots.
I was only visiting Hong Kong this time on a layover, so I had to make my way back to HKG for my next flight on Dragonair to Hanoi. I wish I could beguile you with pictures and tales of amazing lounges, but unfortunately those pictures are lost to antiquity just like the ones from last post. Plus, I was dog tired. I present to you a selfie of yours truly that will make you instantly understand how jetlagged I was.
I’ve previously reviewed another trip to Hong Kong here, which has some pictures of the skyline lit up in all of its majesty as well as some other pics I enjoyed.
Hong Kong’s airport is really easy to navigate, and the Dragonair flight was…well, I have no idea, I fell asleep as soon as I sat down and the flight attendant had to politely shake me awake after the plane had landed. But that was ok, because now I was in Hanoi!