Up and About in Hong Kong

Adventure, Culture, Things to Do , , , , , , ,

Hong Kong is so accessible! This is the first thought I had as soon as I got out of the airport, backpacked and ready for my four-day trip. Apart from the regular fleets of taxis and extensive subway systems, there are trams, ferries, and cable cars to take you to every nook and cranny of the territory. The other thing I could not ignore, as a first timer, was the amazing views Hong Kong offers, from different vantage points. Most of us think of the unending skyscrapers of the Financial District when we think of Hong Kong. This is not all, though. I greedily took in beautiful green landscapes, mountain peaks, serene parks, bustling markets – both wet and dry, fashionable and quirky fabrics, eye-popping street food, and sights of SO MANY PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!

 

Hong-Kong Streets

                                                                             Image Courtesy ~ Preethi Paul

 

I want to talk about a unique mode of mass transportation we saw in Hong Kong. Many places are quite steep and require a good pair of shoes (and knees) to explore. You do not – and should not – need a cab in this area. Instead, take a ride on the longest outdoor escalator series in the world. These covered escalators cover the Soho and Lan Kwai Fong areas of Central. There are “stops” where you can get off and explore further. This part of the town is very young and trendy, with many good bars boasting of fantastic happy hour options.

Covered Escalators

                                                                                Image Courtesy ~ Preethi Paul

 

You can also take the boring ole stairs if you are not a fan of conveyor belt travelling. Speaking of stairs, they are everywhere. The steep alleys of Hong Kong are worth exploring. Graffiti art and flea markets fill the older parts of the city. Venture into Man Mo temple to experience the peace of Taoist Buddhism. Steeped in mysticism and incense fragrance, the temple offers reprieve from the hustle bustle outside, to devotees and tourists.

Steep alleys of Hong Kong

                                                                                Image Courtesy ~ Preethi Paul

 

Take the tram from Central all the way up to the highest point in Hong Kong, the Peak. The stunning views, nature walks, and shopping experience is well worth your time, especially if you are a shutterbug. The 120-year old tram is the oldest working funicular railway in the territory. It is overcrowded during the weekend, with most of the travelers jostling for window seats. The steep ride up to the Peak offers fun views of tilted buildings, quick jolts, and collective “Whoa!”s. We spent half a day at the Peak, lunching among the clouds and sampling out an audio tour (which I highly recommend).

Victoria Peak

                                                                                 Image Courtesy ~ Preethi Paul

 

Check out the Hong Kong Ferris Wheel located close to Waterfront Promenade, one evening. This mode of transportation doesn’t strictly take you from point A to B. But you will definitely want to hog on all the spectacular sunset views of Victoria Harbor. It is a relatively new installation, imitating the London Eye.

Hong Kong Ferris Wheel

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We walked along the promenade and waited until nightfall, to catch another tourist attraction, the Symphony of Lights. The light and sound show is not among the best I have seen, but it was a perfect excuse to grab a snack, remove my walking shoes and people watch, while waiting for the show to begin. Oh, and the show rewards you with great night photography opportunities.

Victoria Harbour

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Hop on to the Star Ferry to get photogenic views of the harbor. This is an inexpensive way to island hop from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui. This older neighborhood is a part of Kowloon Island. Tsim Sha Tsui, or TST, has great food options, shopping escapades and, oh yeah, Bruce Lee!

Bruce Lee Statue

                                                                                 Image Courtesy ~ Preethi Paul

 

Hong Kong boasts of amazing ways to get aerial views of the different islands. Take Lantau Island, for instance. Ngong Ping 360, a cable car system with glass bottoms, takes you to the village of Ngong Ping. On the way, you are treated to views of the sea, mountains, and the airport. This ride is strictly not for those with fear of heights. I opted out of it and climbed 260 steps all the way to the top to see Tian Tan Buddha. There was lot of pilgrim traffic all the way up to the giant statue, because I happened to be there on Buddha’s birthday. Jostling past selfie sticks and swinging incense sticks, I sat at the base of Buddha’s feet and took it all in.

Tian Tan Buddha

 

Hong Kong is a futuristic land with strong ties to her ancient past. Her colonial history is evident on every subway station and double-decker bus. However, dragon fruit-filled supermarts and drying laundry hanging precariously off poles sticking out of skyscrapers gives away just how truly Asian in nature she is.Hong Kong is old, yet young. Traditional yet cosmopolitan. Fad following tourists can sample a variety of new age foods – matcha, the current world craze, has taken on a whole new level here with green ice creams and KitKats. However, if you are craving for something traditional, you are never too far away from a sumptuous thali of ghar ka khana.

Here’s a quick tip before I end: Pack light clothes when you plan your trip to Hong Kong. If you are visiting the territory during the summer, the humidity can get insufferable. A nice airy Panama hat will keep you cool through most of the day, though. And don’t forget it at the airport security counter, like I did. I still regret that!

Author: Preethi Paul

Preethi Paul Kannath is living and learning the ways of the beautiful American South. She is curious and chatty with friendly strangers and hopes to publish a book someday. Follow her capers on Instagram at @oddgal.

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