A friend of mine is headed off to Hong Kong this week, so I was inspired to regale you with tales of my trip to this wondrous city. So if you have always wanted to venture to the Far East, stay tuned for my general impressions of the city, details of the fantastic apartment I stayed in, and a list of all the things I did in today’s Hong Kong travel guide.
Hong Kong Travel Guide:
Overall, I was not that impressed with Hong Kong, but this was mainly due to where it was situated on my trip schedule. I visited Hong Kong for a week in mid-March of 2018. This trip came at the end of my Southeast Asia journey, and at that point in my travels I was ready to hear some English and just be more easily understood. The challenges of traveling were starting to get to me, and in my mind Hong Kong was still a British colony. Needless to say, I did not do my research and Hong Kong is all Chinese, all the time. On top of this, Hong Kong itself felt like a Chinese version of Manhattan. I was still captivated by the romance and slower pace of Thailand and Vietnam, so coming face-to-face with the metropolitan hustle and bustle of Hong Kong was not appreciated fully.
In looking back over my photos, however, I think I didn’t give Hong Kong the respect it deserves. Heading to Hong Kong was a bit of a spontaneous decision on my part since I said I had extra time before I had to fly back to New York. I would like to revisit the city and this time stay not in Hong Kong proper, but in Kowloon (the more traditionally Chinese side of the city) to get a more genuine taste of what Hong Kong is really like. The urbane, sophisticated nature of Hong Kong where I was staying was too much like New York for my taste. Others may enjoy this, but I was in Hong Kong to get away from what I have back home.
Hong Kong Travel Guide:
The bright spot in my trip to Hong Kong was the little apartment that I had all to myself. I booked the hotel through the Agoda app, but the ‘hotel room’ turned out to be a studio apartment. It was a corner apartment, so I had lots of windows, and it was located right in the heart of the fashion district on Hong Kong Island. I was in close proximity to lots of shops and the waterfront. I was also very close to public transportation, and I even had daily maid service. I loved having my own space, and because it was more like an apartment, I felt like I was actually living in Hong Kong. Here are the details of my hotel:
(Reception @ 3/F) Flat A1, 3/F, Block A, Paterson Building, 37-47 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
5 nights, double bed, private bathroom
***$100 deposit for room, $50 deposit for towels
Free wifi, AC, no view or TV
Paid in full: $174.05 ($32 per night)
Hong Kong Travel Guide:
Again, my feelings about Hong Kong have changed as I look back over my photos. I visited some very cool attractions, and the next time I visit I just hope to have more context to understand what I was seeing. I would especially like to have a better understanding of the food in Hong Kong. The dim sum I ate was quite frankly not as good is what I have found in New York, and I don’t know if that’s because of my own limited palette or because I didn’t have someone there to guide me in what to eat. I would recommend a Hong Kong food tour and going with a guide to eat dim sum. I ended up ordering what I usually do for dim sum in New York, and it was meh. I wish I had eaten the chili crab that is one of the main dishes in Hong Kong. It was expensive, and the restaurants were crowded, but next time I would definitely do it.
There is one restaurant I found in the Kowloon area near the Temple Street Night Markets, and I ended up going there twice for the salt and pepper calamari. The son of the owner speaks fantastic English, and it was nice to chat with someone. I found this place simply wandering around the markets, and I highly recommend you get lost in Kowloon as well. You never know what you may find.
Hong Kong Travel Guide:
Getting around Hong Kong is super easy. Their subway (a.k.a., the MTR) is the most efficient system I have ever found. It beats the NYC MTA hands-down, and I don’t say that lightly. I am a public transportation snob, and up until my visit to Hong Kong, regarded the New York City transit system as the finest in the world. New York City can definitely do better in terms of efficiency and cleanliness when compared to the Hong Kong subway system. In Hong Kong it’s easy to buy a card for the subway and simply add money as you need it. The map is very easy to read, especially if you’re used to what we have in New York.
Speaking of getting around, one of the things you must absolutely do in Hong Kong is to ride on the Star Ferry. You haven’t seen Hong Kong unless you’ve seen it from the perspective of the water. One of the best things I did while in Hong Kong was to take a sunset ferry to Lantau Island, one of the outlying major islands in Hong Kong. I never ended up setting foot on Lantau Island except to switch to the ferry going back to Hong Kong, but it was a great ride and provided a beautiful view of the city.
Things to Do in Hong Kong: Victoria Peak
When I think of Hong Kong, one of the first images that comes to mind is the cityscape from the movie Blade Runner – one of my top five films of all time. The best view of Hong Kong can be found at the top of Victoria Peak, and I got there on my first day by means of a harrowing cab drive. It was an experience, and the cab driver was very nice, though his reckless driving left a lot to be desired. No doubt the better way to get to the top of the mountain is to take the tram, but it’s a bit touristy and it takes a long time to get to the top. If you’re going to head to Victoria Peak, make sure you plan in enough time, especially if you’re trying to get there by sunset. I didn’t plan ahead enough, and ended up missing sunset. What I did do right, and I recommend you do the same, is to walk down the mountain to the main city below. I cannot imagine making the uphill climb because at points during my walk I was nearly perpendicular to the street because the incline was so great. There were other people making the climb up, but that’s more exercise than I need on my vacation. Take some form of transport up to the top and walk it down. The views at night are spectacular, but keep in mind there are lots of people taking photos at the same time. It was quite a crowd at the top at sunset, but I elbowed my way in and got some great images.
Things to Do in Hong Kong:
Neon Tour and the Ding Ding
If you’re going to see the city proper, then you need to go out in search of some classic neon signs, which Hong Kong has in abundance. Simply walking the streets of Kowloon around the Temple Street Night Market district will get you plenty of neon, but one other option is to ride the ding ding from start to finish on Hong Kong Island. (Check out my street photography essay, ‘The View from the Ding Ding‘ here.) I always find one of the cheapest way is to get a tour of the city is to get on one of the main bus lines and ride it from start to the end. The ding ding is the two-story bus running along the main drag in Hong Kong. The buses are a little bit like the double decker buses in London, and they are named so because of the sound the bell makes when the buses arrive at each station. It’s a slow trip, but it gives you a fantastic view of life below, especially if you’re interested in street photography. Get to the top of the ding ding and stake out a seat at the front of the bus.
In my next blog post, I’ll have more details on the attractions I visited and things I did while in Hong Kong. As always, if you have been to Hong Kong or are planning a trip there, let me know your itinerary. Happy travels, everyone!
If you would like to see more images from my travel photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – www.Kelly-Williams.com