Wednesday 06 April 2016 – Hong Kong.
We had a fabulous time in New Zealand, and leaving was tough. I really enjoyed seeing my family again and with such nice weather for most of our time there, being outside in the warm sun was very pleasant as well. But things end and it was time to move on. There will be no more lovely cool pinot gris for a while.
Rather than heading directly back to London we decided to break the trip and take a couple of days in Hong Kong. El had never been there, and I had an ill-fated work trip there back in 2007. Unknown to me I had been quite ill for a while with a bacterial abscess growing in my liver. It finally hit the day I arrived in Hong Kong for a five day work trip. I spent one day in the hotel and then eight days in hospital, where they made me well enough to fly home to New Zealand. I didn’t see much of the city at all. I was hoping for much better fortune this time around !
After almost 11 hours of flying we arrived in Hong Kong first thing on Wednesday morning, the flight was OK, I dozed a little bit but would hardly say I slept. We decided to get a cab to the hotel, we had pondered getting the train, but the cab was hardly more costly, and seemed a reasonable option for brain dead passengers. As we had an overnight flight and arrived at 7:30 am I had decided to book a hotel room for the previous night so we could go straight to the room rather than having to wait till mid-afternoon. This was a wise decision, it gave us a chance to change, have a shower, a coffee or two and a wee relax before heading out for the day.
The ride in from the hotel was less painful than I expected, and the view was similar to that from the airport, a heavy low sky resting on the top of high rises. Which is not really representative of what HK looks like, it is surprisingly green and lush and hilly! The pollution at first was terrible, I am hoping it cleared rather than we got used to it as I didn’t notice it at all later in the trip. Early in the ride from the airport my throat was sore and my eyes burnt. The smoggy fog did clear and stay gone later in the day.
I had booked a hotel right in the centre of the tourist section of Kowloon, on Knutsford Terrace, a pedestrian only street full of bars and restaurants. When I booked the room I didn’t know this. I was really nervous that we were going to have noisy nights as we were only on the fifth floor. Luckily I was very wrong, and we had two great nights. I could not say the same about the view from the room though!
I do love Asian scaffolding, Bamboo is immensely strong, but I am not sure I would be standing on that deck.
It was late morning before we headed out the door, we had no real plan in mind. Stroll down towards the harbour and see what happens and what we felt like doing was as planned as we got. It was only 21 degrees, cooler than New Zealand had been, and not particularly humid either. Perfect weather for strolling.
The museum section down at the waterfront was closed for renovation, which was a shame as quite a large area of harbour side was closed as well. I really liked this building though.
Above the hoardings around the closed museum and on the far side of the harbour, loomed the magnificent International Finance Centre tower (IFC).
The view on either side of Hong Kong harbour is magnificent, tall towers and steep hills make for a great sight.
We were down by the Star Ferry building and it seemed rude to not get a ferry over the harbour from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island.
The Sky 100 tower on Kowloon is equally magnificent !
We stopped for lunch in the mall in the IFC, sadly it was only on the 2nd floor and not right up there with the big views.
From first observations, Hong Kong seems to be quite a new city, most of the buildings look to have been built in recent times, so it was quite nice to see an older and lower building deep in the shadows of the towers.
We walked through the central streets of down town Hong Kong and I have never seen so many high end brand shops, all the big names were there, more than once in some cases.
Though we didn’t catch one, there were a lot of trams on the lower, flat streets of down town Hong Kong. Vast sections of both down town Hong Kong and Kowloon are reclaimed land, and there is still a huge amount of work reclaiming more land from the sea. I heard that the IFC tower has foundations 44 metres deep!
We walked past the headquarters of HSBC and the Bank of China, both with their theme on the lion.
The French mission building really stood out as we started to wind our way up the lower foothills, as did St John’s Cathedral behind it.
We were looking for the Peak Tram, a funicular that went from the lower foothills up to the top of Victoria Peak. Built in 1888 it has been ferrying tourists up a very steep incline to the peak. It is quite a piece of engineering and is larger and steeper than I imagined. It is also very popular and we were lucky on our ride up to not have to wait long at all. There were much bigger queues going up when we got back down again.
There is a further climb up a series of escalators once we were off the funicular, though the view out of the window was a taste of what we would see from the top.
There was a southern US shrimp restaurant at the top, bizarre. We are in Hong Kong, not Louisiana. It even sold Forrest Gump souvenirs.
The view from the Peak is amazing, we had an OK day, we could at least see some distance, and we could see all of HK and over to Kowloon. I took a lot of photos, living in a large but low rise city, I love all these big towers, not so sure I would like to live in the middle of them.
We were up the top for a while, and had a bit of a walk around before heading down. The viewing platform is a rather odd shaped building.
With no sleep last night and being quite a walk from the hotel we decided to catch the funicular back down again rather than walk. Back down at almost sea level we walked through a small park towards the main shopping area. There are a few little parks around, for all its masses and height it is quite a green place, pleasant in parts.
Back down at the harbour side we caught one of the old Star Ferries back over to Kowloon.
That tower is really big!
It was a 20 minute walk back up to the hotel.
After a brief rest we decided to head to the bar downstairs at street level and have a couple of drinks before heading back out again, purely for hydration of course.
We decided to do a harbour tour tonight, there is a light show at 8:00pm every night over the harbour, with a lot of the building owners on either side lighting up their buildings or shining lasers into the sky, the photos we saw before hand made it look very spectacular, and a trip on a harbour is always a good thing. The walk back down again was more interesting at night, there is a lot of neon here.
I really liked this guy’s variation of ‘guy floating in the air’ – especially dressed as a monk in front of a giant CK advert…
The light show was a bit of a flop really, very unexciting. I am going to blame the clouds that swept in over the harbour, obscuring some of the lights, and rendering the lazers pretty much useless. It was hard to see what, if anything was going on. I did take a load of photos though, a lot were deleted as these were all hand held.
The show was a bit too long, and surprisingly it got quite cold, something I really did not expect. I was not dressed for coldness and got a bit shivery on the boat. I was glad to get off and walk back up to the hotel. We didn’t fancy anything big for dinner so grabbed some bread and cheese from an M and S on our street (it is so British here). We retired to our room to eat and drink a glass of wine sitting on our bed watching a Japanese football team play a Chinese team in the Asia Cup.
It was a long old day, but really good and neither of us ended up in hospital.