Saturday, May 30, 2009
Hong Kong - The One True Love of My Life.
Oh Hong Kong, How I Love You, Let me Count the Ways...
In all seriousness, when you're going through some serious junk in life, there is no better city in the world to be in than Hong Kong. You can't help but get caught up in its vibrancy, bright lights, gorgeous islands, and excitement and forget everything else. This was trip #2 for me to this vivacious city and it was just as good, if not better than the first.
We had just about 5 days to spend in this city, and we didn't waste a minute. First, after checking into the Marriott Courtyard on Hong Kong Island, we went down to Central via the trolleys, which are just so fun. We walked around a bit, gazed at the skyscrapers, as ya do, and then walked over the land bridge and watched all the construction of the land reclamation. Amazing that they can just build something out of nothing - and make the harbor smaller at the same time.
Took the star ferry over to Kowloon and had a few pints at Delaney's Irish Pub, before heading out to have dinner with some Hong Konger friends. We had an amazing night of Chinese family, Chinese food & beer, and catching up with friends (and a new baby!).
Ferry away from HK Island
New Baby! Good Friends!
Day two found us getting up early and heading out to the islands. Do yourself a favor - if you ever get to Hong Kong, don't stay in the concrete jungle the whole time. While HK & Kowloon are amazing, HK's real fun lies elsewhere. We took the ferry out to Cheung Chau and walked around the whole island (takes about an hour and a half or so) where we met a man in his 60s from England who told us about living in various countries during his life in the army, and being the author of a few books, his his crazy life, then and had lunch by the water. Next, we took another ferry to Peng Chau, which is much smaller, and has less to offer, but still beautiful and has some good hiking trails. To end our night we ferried over to Discovery Bay, which is where the richest of the rich live and play. Five star restaurants and Irish pubs in an area along the beach, where we stopped to have dinner. The owner of this steakhouse we went to, ended up giving us free liquor all night and after having my first go with Grappa, we were all pretty smashed and ferried back, drunkenly, to HK Island. Let me just say that this ferry was so amazing - high speed hydrofoil - completely set up with free wi fi. THAT'S how you know you've just spent time on the richest island... most ferries don't come with such luxuries.
View atop Cheung Chau's highest point:
Cheung Chau's Main Street/Fat Guy Little Bike:
A long walk off a short pier in Peng Chau:
Anyway, Day 3 we had brunch with the Director of the Syracuse Study Abroad program near HK University, and then we ventured to try out the new Crystal Cable Cars on Lantau Island to head up to the Giant Buddha. While I saw this last year, its such a cool area that it's worth seeing twice. We took one of the world's craziest bus rides down the island and headed over to Tai Wo, a village completely on stilts. We had lunch in one of the shops, walked around a bit, and then got on one of the boats to go on a Dolphin Watch. Hong Kong is home to pink dolphins that are actually the color of bubble gum. They're unique to the area and their color is unexplained. We were unlucky in seeing them though. Tai Wo was one of the coolest places I've seen though - the tide comes down so low that its a trickle of water, but comes up so high that the houses must be built on stilts many meters high just to keep the villagers dry. We came back that night to Central Hong Kong and went out in Lan Kwai Fong to some swank clubs and bars with some local girls that my friend had met previously... but being exhausted from all the hiking we had a few beers and headed back to the hotel.
Cable Car & Buddha:
Our last full day, we headed out to have some delicious Mexican Food at Taco Loco in the Mid-Levels, play some cards at the diner in Lan Kwai Fong, and then headed out to the New Territories to have dinner at a local seafood place where you pick the catch out yourself, bring it to the restaurant, and they make it in any style you want. First we had tea with an SU professor, who before dinner drove us out to the HK Wetlands. UNbelievable that an area as small as HK has one of the largest most important wetlands in the world.
We enjoyed a night out playing Chinese card games with our friends, and drinking in Kowloon. The next morning was our last, and we woke up for massages in Central HK, and then had Dim Sum with our friends before heading to the airport to return to our various places.
Oh Hong Kong, you steal my heart every time... I'll be back soon enough.