01. - 02.04.2018
Sunday, April 1st 2018
From Shanghai to Hong Kong
After successful shopping tours in Shanghai our suitcases were getting fuller and fuller... and excess baggage our opponent. Luckily, the airline was more than obliging, so that we could start the next days with joyful anticipation and even more shopping days. :-)
On the flight to Hong Kong we had two and a half hours to rest a little and to have a nice view over Hong Kong.
View of Hong Kong from the airplane
Also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport to distinguish it from its predecessor, the now-closed Kai Tak Airport. The airport has been in commercial operation since 1998. The airport is the world's busiest cargo gateway and one of the world's busiest passenger airports. It is also home to one of the world's largest passenger terminal buildings.
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, our tour guide Andy welcomed us by being a really funny first highlight in Hong Kong. He gave us a good overview of daily life in Hong Kong as well as its surroundings and other interesting topics like infrastructure and language differences. We were also asked to try out language differences between Mandarin and Cantonese and peculiarities in the accentuation - laughs were predestined.
Since Hong Kong was a colony of the British Empire before being transferred to China in 1997, there are still some residues from the United Kingdom. In this picture, you can see the view from a double-decker bus. They are still very typical for Hong Kong. Besides that, another thing you will notice is the left-hand drive traffic.
After our arrival in Hong Kong and another bus-transfer, we checked into our final hotel, the Jen Hotel. Like the other two hotels before, it was of a very good standard with a perfect location on Hong Kong Island. After everybody entered their rooms and refreshed themselves, we headed out to explore the city.
As the streets were crowded due to the Easter holiday, we decided to take a short ride with the metro. Probably the best way to move in Hong Kong. No comparison to the normal conditions in a metro. We were very lucky to get to know Hong Kong from a very local perspective. Helen, who was born and raised in Hong Kong and studied social work provided us an insight into a day time market in a very poor area in Hong Kong, called “Sham Shui Po“. This is probably not a typical place to visit for tourists…
The entrance of the local street market
The poster at the entrance of the market says: “Sham Shui Po Day Time Market”. All people were very friendly. We had the opportunity to talk to the locals, taste some local food and buy handmade products. In the background, you can see the poor neighbourhood.
After a long sightseeing trip on day one in Hong Kong we decided to have another authentic food experience. It was not easy to order with more than 12 people in the restaurant due to language difficulties.
Probably the best view of the city by night. Sailing over the sea with the ferry to watch the spectacular laser show of the Hong Kong Skyscrapers. The inhabitants say that all the lights are just on because of the late-night workers in the offices, not for tourist attractions…
We also saw and experienced really crazy things - one is the rainbow toast.
The cheese bread seemed to have little to do with cheese at first - but in the end the different colours only varied in taste (e.g. basil, tomato).
We like Rainbow Toast!
Monday, April 2nd 2018
On the following day, we had another day off as it was the Easter Monday. We split up into groups for visiting the main attractions of Hong Kong.
Some visited the Big Buddha statue, also known as “Tian Tan Buddha”, which is the centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong and located at Ngong Ping. The valley station of the Ngong Ping 360° gondola is located on the north coast of Lantau Island. It took us about 45 Minutes to arrive there by MTR. The MTR station is called “Tung Chung“, which is the last stop of the orange Tung Chung line.
The gondola opened at 9 a. m. and we were very lucky that not a lot of people got up early on Easter Monday. Even Helen was surprised that there was basically no queue at the entrance.
We were also very lucky with the weather and had a beautiful view from the gondola. The ride took about 20 minutes.
The bottom of the cable car is made of glass, which gives a breathtakingly view below the gondola.
We could see the impressive Big Buddha statue already from the cable car. And Yes: THIS IS HONG KONG!!! We also couldn’t image that Hong Kong could be this green and untouched. An interesting fact about Hong Kong is, that only 2 % of the land area is actually covered with buildings.
The walk up to the Big Buddha statue is exhausting, but the view compensates for everything…
The second group visited another highlight: Lamma Island – even though there were no llamas, we could find plenty of sun and beach. J After a thirty-minute ferry ride we got to know a completely different side of Hong Kong. The simplest infrastructure, combined with many small stalls, sporadically cobbled together make the island look like a holiday resort (albeit with low standards).
The twenty-minute walk to the beach was varied and even led through a bit of nature, which we had not seen much of in the past days. During the walk, the anticipation for a bathe in the pleasantly tempered water grew increasingly, which we also quickly put into action.
The third group decided to take a ride with the Big Bus. This sightseeing tour offers three different bus lines which take you to explore the whole city with its next-door islands. The picture shows the bus stop on the harbour.
The bus trip was amazing. Besides the information the guide told us, we could see fast changing areas of the city - urban as well as scenic landscape. From the big skyscrapers and bad living conditions in the inner circle to the paradise tourist and relaxing areas such as the peninsula called Stanley.
At one of the Hop-on / Hop-off stations in Stanley we briefly stopped for a spontaneous beach walk. We enjoyed the amazing weather conditions and some of us even checked out the Pacific by jumping into the refreshing water.
Another one was the well-known spot in Hong Kong the Victoria Peak. Also known as The Peak, it is a mountain in the western half of Hong Kong Island. With an elevation of 552 m it’s the highest mountain in Hong Kong. To get to the top of The Peak you can walk ;), take a taxi or the most interesting method is the tram, which will take you to the top in 5-10 min.
After this impressive visit to the countryside of Hong Kong, we were very hungry. For lunch, Helen arranged a typical Hong Kong styled food, called “Dim Sum”. Dim Sum is prepared in small portions, in small steamer baskets – very delicious!
Another address for Hong Kong's Dim Sum is the restaurant One Dim Sum - even awarded with a Michelin Star! The fast food meals are ordered on the street. The customers are only let inside the restaurant as soon as there is room and the food is ready. Even with the high throughput rate of the guests and the lack of cosiness, we really admired it!