The other day, M tells me that his boss has offered him first dibs on taking a Friday and the subsequent Monday off from work. He actually asked me whether or not I thought he should take the days, to which I screamed, “Take them and run!!”. Ok, not really, but I emphatically said yes. So, what do you do when you have an unexpected four day weekend? You plan a trip, of course! (We live in an alternate reality, yes.) So this time, we chose Hong Kong, which is now known to us as, The Kong. Or alternatively, The Only Place On Earth That’s Hotter Than Bangkok Right Now.
Hong Kong has a fascinating history – and present, for that matter – a seriously striking skyline, great food, and a ton of things to do. We hit most of the big tourist spots while we there, but there was still so much more to see that we didn’t get to – like the rest of the islands in the area.
If you haven’t guessed yet, we stayed at another Marriott. I’m a walking advertisement, I know, but when you’ve got any kind of status with a hotel, you try to keep it, right?
There are several Marriotts in Kong Kong, and we chose the Courtyard Marriott since the price was less than half of what it was at the others in the city, and at other major brands. (Hong Kong is expensive, by the way.) Even though it was a little further out, the view was still pretty cool.
It was interesting to see the complete juxtaposition of very old and very new right from the start from our little window, and the city continued to bring out that feeling throughout the trip. There’s clearly still a lot of British influence, which you immediately see in the double decker buses and double decker trolleys, there are large malls and streets full of high-end designers, and tons of restaurants covering every genre of food. But then, the city is also full of signs in Cantonese, rows of shops with dried seafood of every type, and authentic restaurants that have not a word of English on the menu. We opted for a Dim Sum restaurant that did have some English, and it was still as yummy as you would expect.
Ok, so although the hotel was a little outside of the real center of the city (i.e. where all the shopping is), it was still close enough that we could easily walk there, or take either the subway or the trams – both of which were clean and super efficient – just a few stops.
The tram, or “Ding Ding” as some Hong Kong’ers call it
Rather than just riding the tram all day, which I probably could’ve happily done, we did visit a few of the major sites, like Man Mo Temple, a traditional Chinese temple.
The views from the top are really amazing, and there are several ways to get there: taxi, hike up, or take the Peak Tram, which has been running since 1888, and is now quite the operation. I definitely recommend taking the tram, but be prepared for huge, pushy crowds, and a long wait (buy tickets ahead of time if you can!), particularly if you’re trying to make it to the peak around sunset. We didn’t make it in time for sunset, but we were still able to get some amazing pictures of the city, beautifully lit up. One other note – in order to get to the tippy-top/the 360 degree viewing platform, you have to purchase another ticket, so be prepared for that. Also, once you get to said platform, there are hundreds of people, all anxious to get their pictures, and thus fighting for a spot along the edge. It was an experience, particularly as we watched people run from one barrier to the next as we were waiting for the tram. I will leave it at that.
Another must-do activity is to ride the Star Ferry. It takes you from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon for only 2.30 HKD. It’s such a small amount, I don’t even want to do the math in my head right now, so just trust me – it’s cheap, and more than worth it.
It’s easy to spend an entire day in Kowloon. You can walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade (I don’t recommend doing this in 100 degree weather like we did; the sun is not your friend during the Hong Kong summer), visit the Hong Kong Museum of History, which has a pretty, um, scary facade, but is incredibly interesting and beautiful inside, and visit the night markets. Your prize after running around in the heat all day, is the opportunity to capture even more photos of the gorgeous skyline on your way back to Hong Kong Island.
And you can also photo-bomb your own picture. New trend?