A Week in Hong Kong

Prepare to be blinded with all shades of red on your screen. 

Day 3 was literally the most colourful day in Hong Kong.

I was back at my starting point, Central Ferry Pier 7. Refer to my previous post Hong Kong – the first 48hours for details on days 1 and 2. I just realised as I write this post, that the Big Bus tour I took today was the red route.  Day 3 was also about getting more comfortable taking selfies. Honestly, I don’t know why i feel so embarrassed taking them. People everywhere seem to without a care. Some found it odd when I asked them to take a photo of me, while some said no to me if I offered to take a photo for them. They were ok with their selfies.

You have to admire the skyscrapers here. The population density is so high that the only way is up! Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers in the world. It beats even New York. I wonder how things go when they have a fire drill. (I work on the top floor of my work building and with only 21 floors, I’m still complaining)

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It must be quite an experience coming here and doing the whole expat thing. I can see the attraction and fascination with this lifestyle. There was a certain buzz here – the same that I feel on a smaller scale each time I’m in Sydney CBD, but this is mammoth. Perhaps because of the environment – the massive buildings, the financial centre, the economy and culture. In Australia I feel safely tucked away down the globe, which is great in my books.

Causeway Bay 

If you want shopping, you’re in the right place. A day in this area is not enough.  Food Street or Houston Street, Times Square,  and Victoria park and more. I would stay here if I came back again.

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Mid level escalators

Vinesh would have loved it. It is the world’s longest covered outdoor escalator system. This area has steep hills and I was so happy not to engage in too much uphill cardio.

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Hollywood Street and Cat Street

I found Hollywood Street and everything around quite interesting. I must explore this more next time, especially Cat Street. Lots of antiques, and giftware stores. I loved the atmosphere here. Many places to eat, shop, eat and just hang out really.  There were little souvenir shops lined up along the steps too.

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Loved all the colours. I need to buy a camera and learn photography. All my photos are on my iPhone.

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Man Mo Temple

I was really looking forward to visiting this temple. Not sure why. But it is the oldest traditional temple here, built during the Qing dynasty in the 1800s. This temple is dedicated to Man, God of Literature and Mo, God of War. Next to the temple is another room that contains other deities. There is also a hall here that was used for dispute resolution between the Chinese and colonialists.

I bought a few josh sticks for $8HKD and offered some prayers here.  From memory,  for $10HKD you could burn the paper to offer prayers, its a symbolic way of sending messages to heaven as well. A lot students come here to pray before exams.

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Coiled incense sticks hang from the ceiling.

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I finished the day in Wan Chai and Soho. These would be great for a night out. But I ended mine in the afternoon.  I experience three-thirtitis even on holidays. It rained so I spent a lazy guilt free afternoon coffeeing myself out in Coffee Academics while catching up on what Rachel (Girl on the Train) was up to now.

Day 4 – Lantau Island: Nong Ping Piazza, Tian Tan Buddha (The Big Buddha), Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path, Citigate outlet shopping at Chung Tung station.

Another big day that I loved.  Felt like Sydney autumn weather today so I layered up.

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Caught the train to Lantau island (Chung Tung station) from the train station near my hotel. It is near the airport so a lot of tourists visit on their way back home or as they arrive in Hong Kong.

The cable car was under repair so lined up for the bus. Got tired in the massive queue so asked the tourists behind me if they would like to split a cab ride to the Tian Tan Buddha (The Big Buddha).  We paid $60HKD per person. Was well worth it. On the way back, I seemed to have timed it well with no waiting, with an easy bus ride back.

Taxi dropped us off at at the arched entrance which is referred to as the Pai Lau.

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I walked along the Bodhi Path towards the Buddha. This has forty lotus shaped lanterns and statues of twelve divine generals. They also represent the twelve zodiac signs. They had times of the day carved on them and each guards two hour blocks of the day. I deleted the photo of the general with Dragon zodiac. Vinesh, Ryan and I are all born in the year of the dragon.

And there he is!

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The Bodhi Path leads to the Di Tan, an open space directly facing the Buddha.

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The design here is deliberate and symbolic. I was then at the foot of the of the stairs, assuring my knees that they could do it!

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My leg muscles got a great workout climbing those 268 steps. That was 268 steps more than what I normally do!

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View of the Po Lin Monastery.

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I don’t know why but it’s always around Buddha that I feel a wash of peace come all over me physically, emotionally and mentally. Is it his eyes and that serene look? Who knows. I had blocked out all the tourists around me. Felt unreal but I had quite an intense experience here.  More so because I felt Vinesh with me and I really missed him.  He would have loved today.

There are six bronze statues facing the Buddha when you get to the top. They are known as “Offering of the six Devas” (flowers, fruit, incense, music, ointment, and light). These are symbolic offerings representing patience, morality, wisdom, charity, zeal and meditation.

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Beneath the statue there are a few halls to walk around and a souvenir shop. I just fell in love with the bright door!

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Po Lin Monastery

Walked down and across to the Po Lin (Precious Lotus) Monastery for a vegetarian lunch. I bought the deluxe meal deal but realised when I got there that its actually for sitting inside only (which is more expensive then sitting outside).  Really I would have preferred to buy something from their cafeteria and sit outside amongst the beautiful gardens and buildings.  My deluxe meal was quite filling and very delicious though.

IMG_2893The monastery is very colourful, and wonderfully tranquil to walk around.

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Wisdom Path

By the time I made my way to the Wisdom Path, I was choking trying to hold back tears. I really missed Vinesh and that pain that lives deep down came up for air.  Honestly felt like as if he was walking next to me. You will read crazy experiences like this from me a lot.  Its too hard for my logical side to understand as well.

The path lead to this hill that holds these 38 pillars in an infinity symbol. They are called steles (upright monuments) and it contains verses to an old prayer referred to as the Heart Sutra.

If I was more deeply connected to my spiritual side or was into meditation (work in progress), sitting up on the hill would have been a perfect place to meditate. I still did my own amateur version.

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Walked back down and on to the village which is really souvenir shops for tourists. Could have bought a few things here. Then it was back to Chung Tung station via the local bus. I made a pit stop at the Citigate shopping centre next door for – you guessed it! Coffee! I think it was 6pm by the time I got here. This is actually a shopping outlet. I was so tempted to buy a few things. Saw some past season Kate Spade bags in fabulous colours and beautiful scarves in Coach. Pulled myself away and back to the hotel to my Voltaren tablets, Deep Heat rub for my knees and a good snorefest.

Thank you for an amazing day Lantau island!

Day 5 – Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and just lazying around.

After yesterday’s epic day, I decided to relax today, take it easy and just laze around. It is a holiday after all and I don’t have to be out and about all the time. I went window shopping around Harbour City and surrounds and checked out the Mong Kok area.

And just like that, I forgot all about relaxing, and took a long walk (why do I do this to myself) along Nathan Road checking out all the shops and just people watching.

Spent some time in Mong Kok which was an easy train ride away. Bought some souvenirs  in Ladies Market and Temple Street. There is anything and everything here. Nearby, they had an E-Spirit outlet here, a big H&M store, and many other brands.

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Back to Harbour City which had some amazing designer shops – actually designer stores were everywhere. I walked in and tried a few things. I love the service here in Hong Kong. They are deliberately overstaffed by our standards. You get greeted straightway and they pay attention.

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My hotel was located close to the Avenue of the Stars and I wanted to go say hi to Brice Lee (one of my favourite childhood icons), but it was closed off for maintenance.  Checked out the cultural centre. There was a movie festival going on but the sessions were quite late at night. Took a picture of the Clock Tower as Ryan likes them.

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Finished the afternoon with…coffee.

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Day 6 – Macau Day trip

This deserves a whole blog post to itself. Will publish soon. I made a last minute decision to go, I had to pay for super class in the turbojet. It worked out to be approximately $100AUD. You can get them for half the price in economy. There were a few travel agents selling tickets, as well as the actual official ticket counter. Was a bit confusing. Conveniently, the ticket counter only had later times available, so I had to go next door to an agent, pay more and get the earlier ferry.

Once I was in Macau, I only spent $20AUD to see the major sites on the hop on hop off big bus tour. Casinos also offer free shuttles services. I found it fascinating that there was a special counter just for getting a helicopter or private charter out of here. As you do.

Got back to the hotel from Macau at night. My last night here so decided to treat myself (as if I haven’t been doing that all week!). Dinner and cocktails at rooftop restaurant in my hotel, Above and Beyond.

I was just really grateful for this amazing experience. It was my way of celebrating just about anything small or big that was good in my life right now. What better way, then with food in my belly, drink in hand, and a view. Unfortunately photos didn’t come out so well but it was a magnificent night.

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Drinks at the bar. Views of Victoria Harbour (and the pool at Intercontinental far below)

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I can’t remember the name of the main dish I had – tasted fine, was bubbling with some ingredient. It came with a massive bowl of fried rice enough to feed four people. This is the only fine dining restaurant I’ve been to where they offered to pack the extra food to take back to my hotel room.

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Day 7 – Back Home

Palm Sunday today.  Was thinking of attending mass at nearby St John Cathedral but slept in.  Another chill out day taking it easy after my Macau trip yesterday as I had afternoon trip back home to look forward to. A bit last minute walking around and souvenir shopping at the markets. Bought Ryan these spinning things, hadn’t seen them before.   Lady gave me a couple for free after I purchased a few things from her stall. (A few weeks later in Sydney saw them everywhere – yes the fidget spinner. Oh my! Why?!)

The hotel had facilities for late checkout with a lounge room (drinks and snacks included) and access to amenities before the flight back home.  This was extremely handy.

I had a complimentary pass to the Qantas Lounge to use after I checked in. Some of you may have read a past post Plastic plunge cutting up my credit Part of the benefits of the signature platinum card was access to the lounge if flying Qantas/Jetstar. Still have one more to go that expires in February 2018.

The service was amazing. They were so welcoming and down to earth compared to the staff back at the lounge at Sydney airport.

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Posing with my bargain red bag purchased at the Ladies Market

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The afternoon sunset was amazing and I felt blessed to experience this. This is what Vinesh and I had planned to do together this year after accumulating all these Qantas Frequent Flyer Points.  I was really holding back tears – this was so bittersweet.

The bar tender took care of that and brought over drink after drink.

Watched the movie Girl on the Train movie on the flight back.  Was good. I think when it comes to thrillers, you either read the book or watch the movie.

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Cost of local transport, food, sightseeing and …. coffee.

If I was a backpacker, I would be very proud. I came holidaying to Hong Kong with only $500 in my wallet. I honestly didn’t think it was possible to do so much with so little considering this one of the most expensive holiday destinations. In fact I would even say that this was too much money as I paid more for turbojet to Macau and the bus tours. This would have also been cheaper on a per person basis, if sharing with someone too. I spent a massive amount on accomodation – which I was okay with as I spent a lot of time chilling out there, especially after a full day out. My cost allocation below is approximates only. I had a very big breakfast, and hardly had lunch to be honest. I was too busy going from place to place. Lunch was coffee and snacks (from my free mini bar which was overstocked). And no shopping. Of course this chart would look very different had I indulged in some retail therapy in Louis Vuitton (dreaming)!

Expenses Cost in AUD
Airport Express $30
Octopus Card to use on train, bus, ferry $25
Hop on hop off Buss Pass (Hong Kong) $85
Hop on Hop Off Bus Pass (Macau) $20
Turbojet to Macau $100
Coffee $40
Souvenirs $40
Dinner and cocktails at Above and Beyond $100
Takeaway food and miscellaneous expenses $60
Total = $500AUD

Thank you Hong Kong!!!

I had an amazing first time solo travel experience here. It was a safe and an easy destination to get me started and gear up my confidence in doing things on my own. I’m also grateful that I live in Australia with fresh air, space, abundance of nature, beautiful beaches, and so much more.  Hopefully on my next trip, I can come in a group so that I can be gutsy enough to go out at night and enjoy the beautiful nightlife here. When Ryan is older we can check out Disneyland and visit some other islands including Lama Island.  Considering I got lost a few times, and hopeless at google maps, I managed to do and not to do just enough for a week in Hong Kong. And thank you to all the strangers who offered to and or took my photos so that I didn’t need to selfie myself. Some even took the time to make sure they took the perfect shot.

I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you found my trip notes helpful or not.   Happy to read any more tips that you would like to share with me for next time.

Safe and happy travels!

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