Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hong Kong Part 2

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

As part of the pre-trip negotiations, I guaranteed Harrison that we would do something fun every day. The implicit understanding was that this would be kid-fun. Day 1 of Hong Kong barely met this agreement, so Hong Kong Day 2 was ...

... Ocean Park, Hong Kong's amusement park. Ahhh ... it was fine ... the kid's had fun ... the food was gourmet quality ... the rides were awesome .... we saw live pandas. We took a double-decker bus back and forth. The only notable difference between North American and Chinese amusement parks is that it was possible to eat either McDonald's OR a Madras curry before braving the next roller coaster.  Not much more to say ...

At the best of times, amusement parks are exhausting for parents, so mid-afternoon when we were done with Ocean Park, we decided again to head back to the hotel to rest prior to heading to the Happy Valley Racecourse for the Wednesday Night Extravaganza. We picked up some Husband and Wife cakes from a Chinese bakery at the corner of the street next to our hotel. Guess which one was better? Everyone's favorite including mine was the Wife cake.

Having slept through Tuesday night, we ... again slept through the whole thing. I woke up at 9:30pm, way too late to head to the races. Apart from Harrison, everyone else was too sleepy to move.

Temple Street Night Market
Harrison and I decided to head out to get something to eat and then to explore the Temple Street night market. Lots of sex toys and lighters and t-shirts and sex toys. We haggled for some splat toys with a vendor who wouldn't budge, so we bought from the lady right opposite him.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hong Kong Day 3 was all about altitude. We decided to hit some of the sights even though it was winter in Hong Kong - cold and wet!

In the morning, we headed off to the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island at the end of one of Hong Kong's subway lines.

Cassandra (with purple sparkly shoes) on Hong Kong's immaculate MTR
Part of the trip was the Ngong Ping cable car, a 25 minute gondola ride through the clouds up to the top of the mountain where the temple and giant Buddha were located. We opted for the "crystal cabin" with a see-through bottom. Because it was so foggy, we could hardly see anything, but Trish (who's afraid of heights) could see enough to be freaked out.

We got up to the top to a (probably recreated for tourists) remote alpine Chinese village. It was freezing and foggy, so we headed directly to the Starbucks to get warm.

Gigantic Buddha sitting on his lotus leaf plinth
 The fog started to lift as we headed up to the awesome Po Lin Monastery.

Trish and the kids on the steps up to the Po Lin Monastery
The interior of the monastery was an impressive combination of red satin, MANY orchids of every color and large gold Buddha's. I didn't take any photos as there were alot of people praying and lighting incense, but it was beautiful.

Do we look cold? Harrison took this shot.
Next, we climbed the 268 steps up to the gigantic iron buddha sitting on top of the mountain. The view from there was awesome now that the fog had lifted. We finished off our visit with a bit of retail therapy in the little village at the end of the gondola. There was a lot of cool, although vastly overpriced stuff, but we all ended up picking something up anyways. My favorite was the chop stick store featuring over 600 different sets of chop sticks!

After going back down the gondola, we headed back into central Hong Kong. We had lunch just off Statue Square and then walked to the base of the Peak tram. Throughout all of our travels in Hong Kong, this was the only time we ever had to wait in a queue and even at that it was only for about 20 minutes.

Going up the Peak Tram
By the time we got up to the top, the weather had turned into a warm clear afternoon and we could see for miles! It was worth the wait. The views over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and over the South China Sea on the other side were amazing!

We inexplicably spent $300 HKD ($40 Can) on about 2kg of candy to keep us company on the ride down. We thought about doing some shopping at the Landmark and the Prince's building, two of the malls around Statue Square, but it was WAY too bling for our budget.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On our last day in Hong Kong, we decided to walk around some of the Kowloon markets. We only had the morning and afternoon as our flight to Auckland was leaving at 19:15. While Hong Kong Island is a noticeable mixture of Chinese, white, Indian and other faces, as we headed deeper and deeper into Kowloon, there were less and less white faces mixed among the Chinese.

We followed Nathan Road through Mong Kok and Prince Edward districts. The first market we came to was the Goldfish Market on Tung Choi Street.

A whole street of aquariums and fish in bags hung on racks
Next, we walked through the flower market along Flower Market Road. I loved all the orchids, although the miniature clementine trees were cool as well.

Tons of Orchids
Miniature Clementine Trees
At the end of Flower Market Road is a stairway up to the Bird Market along Yuen Po Street. There wasn't much to see, but the sounds of 1000s of birds in tiny cages was almost deafening. 

Finally, we headed back to our hotel through the Ladies Market along a lower section of Tung Choi Street.

As I mentioned last post, we loved Hong Kong. It is an interesting unique city and we had the persistent observation that Hong Kong is very well run. I could have easily spent another week combing through the New Territories. From the amazing transit system to the helpful bilingual staff everywhere to the efficient on-time airport, the Chinese do a very enviable job at running this amazing city. We had expected more of a Chinese Manhattan. We were wrong.

We were.

The next leg of our journey was about to begin. We flew to Auckland on Air New Zealand, a stretch limousine of an airline compared to Continental.

When we landed, the weather was beautiful and we had to contend with exiting tourist mode and setting up our new life in New Zealand.

No comments:

Post a Comment