Our China Special Administrative Region (SAR) tour would of course not be complete if we didn’t visit the other SAR, Hong Kong. For our third day, we were up early to temporarily say goodbye to Macau, and say hello to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is just about an hour away from Macau via ferry, which is probably the most cost-effective way to get there. The ferries that service Macau-Hong Kong is similar to those in the Philippines, although I think they’re faster. Being an international trip in itself, you do need your passport, making this my first international sea trip.
Arriving in Hong Kong from Macau gave me a bit of a “culture-shock”—it’s like coming from the province and arriving in a big city. Hong Kong is really busy and crowded especially compared to the laid-back Macau. And you definitely know that you’re in one of the places with the most expensive real state in the world as every space is maximized to full use. There are still sidewalks despite the limited and expensive space, but the volume of pedestrians in some areas make it so much like Manila—congested.
We stayed in this hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui area along Nathan Road so we’re pretty much a stone’s throw away from the nearest MTR station. It was here that we were acquainted with how precious space is in Hong Kong. Aside from the “creative” use of space which leads to semi-labyrinth floor plans reminiscent of those in Divisoria, rooms here are very, very small. Next to the capsule hotels of Tokyo, the single bed rooms in Hong Kong are the smallest one I’ve ever seen!
After checking in our hostel, we were off for lunch, and the rest of our tour. Like our previous challenges with time and space, we were not aware of any authentic Hong Kong restaurants in the area so we opted to eat with the nearest one, Café de Coral (again!). Don’t get me wrong, Café de Coral’s food is really good, but it’s presence in both Macau and Hong Kong doesn’t exactly make it unique. But since we’re already there, might as well enjoy. I noticed that Café de Coral in Hong Kong displays their menu both in Chinese and English, which was a huge relief, and they do have some variations with their offerings. Communicating in English here is also much better.
First stop, Tung Chung. Hong Kong is composed of several islands, and Tung Chung is not in Hong Kong Island but is in Lantau Island. Even where we were staying is not in Hong Kong Island but is in Kowloon Peninsula, New Territories. Hong Kong redefines our usual “island hopping” experience as you can actually get into these different islands via MTR so if you’re not aware of Hong Kong’s geography, you may actually think that all these places are all in one island! Convenience at its finest! (How I wish that Metro Manila’s train system was at least half as efficient)
So why did we go to Tung Chung? To get to Ngong Ping! Yes, up until now that I’m back from Hong Kong, I still can’t make any sense of the names of the places I’ve been in Hong Kong as they all sound like random syllables to me. Anyways, to those who haven’t been to Ngong Ping, it is where the famous Giant Buddha statue of Lantau Island, Hong Kong can be found. It is on top of a hill and the best way of getting there is with a cable car! Cool!
Ngong Ping is a popular tourist destination in Lantau Island, Hong Kong, which is home to the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha (Giant Buddha) among other attractions. It is quite “touristy” and it feels like a theme park, but it is quite an interesting place to visit. To those with open minds, it can be a very spiritual journey in itself.
The Giant Buddha being the main attraction in Ngong Ping, you’d have to expect that the area circles around Buddha as its theme. It’s not strictly religious, but it’s really spiritual provided you’re there not merely for entertainment purposes.
We got back to Kowloon a bit late but we still had some energy in us left to explore. We first went to the night market but sadly it was closing time. We managed to catch some stalls who’ve yet completely closed so some of us managed to buy some souvenirs.
What’s more sad than the night market being closed was the weather not cooperating—it started to rain! We noticed that people in Hong Kong don’t really mind getting wet as much as Filipinos do, but some of us were carrying cameras that aren’t water resistant (myself included) and we don’t have umbrellas so we took shelter for a while, and waited for the rains to weaken. As with most of our SAR tour, no decent restaurant was found in our immediate area so we just moved on to our last destination for the night, the Avenue of Stars located along Victoria Harbour.
Avenue of the Stars is like Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is a great place to see the skyline of Hong Kong. But apparently our luck have run out and most of the lights were already turned off, and visibility was reduced because of the drizzle.
Finally, time to go back to our hostel. But before we do, we had to eat. As much as I expected Hong Kong to be more accommodating during late hours, most establishment are closed so there’s not much choice to satisfy our hunger, except for convenience stores. To think that it’s only around midnight! And so as they say, “beggars can’t be choosers.”
* * *
The Chronicles of SAR: