Judging by the title of the post readers might assume I have some troubles with geography. However, I can state with confidence – Hong Kong does not feel like China whatsoever.
At the very beginning I was troubled with ticket purchase from the mainland China to Hong Kong. On chinaguide.com I read that there were trains between Guangzhou and Hong Kong and tickets cost 199HKD one way. “All sorted!” I thought looking forward to see the “Asia’s World City”. Wondering if I could purchase the ticket online I found some discussions on tripadviser and people recommended not to buy online… I cannot remember the reasons, but I decided to “go with the flow” when I get there. So you get to the Guangzhou East Railway Station and realise that signs are extremely unclear and there HEAPS and HEAPS of people! You probably get crowds like this only for Cuba Dupa and Santa Parade in Wellington 😀 But this is China, so it is not so surprising… What was surprising is timetable only in Mandarin/Cantonese (how could they get everything translated but not the timetable?) Furthermore, all ticket offices sell tickets for different destinations and as the destinations are written above in (juts guess :D) Mandarin/Cantonese, you should be queuing up for the right one. There were 8 ticket offices and all of them had (no bull) massive queues. I tried to ask locals but to no avail. I tried to translate and show it to them, it did not work either. I just gave up.
Once I got back to the city centre and got the wi-fi connection, I read that there were buses as well. It is an hour longer, but looked like I had no choice. The tickets can be purchased at Landmark Hotel near Haizhu Square. And if my memory is letting me down and those are not the exact names, if you walk along the watrefront in the direction of the underground, there will be busses on the right-hand side outside the hotel. That is where you need to go. The bus is operated by City Express Couch… I cannot recall the exact name, but they have a read star on their logo. Hong Kong, here I come! 🙂
It is a truly metropolis with endless shops and chick hotels. My first impression was 1) Jeez, it’s really huge! 2) The metro is really expensive, but cleaner than in China. 3) Actually, everything is quite pricey.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region. It is so independent, it feels like you are in a completely different country. They have their own passports, currency, flag and they drive on the left side of the road. When you are leaving China they stamp your passport and when you arrive to the Hong Kong’s border, they also stamp your passport.
I paid 334 HKD for two nights. By backpacker standards I found it expensive. I actually tried to couchsurf here, but I could not find anyone. Of course, the shower and toilet were just revolting but the worst thing was the absence of the locker on my door. They gave me a key from the whole block to enter, but not from my room which was unlocked for the whole time, so I could not leave my possessions there ( I know I should have brought a little locker for the bags myself). In addition, the washing machines were on for the whole night every night like there was a laundry next door. On the positive side there was a proper free of charge wi-fi and the location was great.
The weather was great! It was quite warm for the middle of winter.
I spent about 3 days in HK, so below is shortly about what I managed to see and what I did not but I wish I did 🙂
Star Ferry and Avenue of Stars
After long and cold Siberian winter I was looking forward to see the sea. First thing in the morning I went for a walk and to see the “avenue of stars”. A nice place for a walk/jog next to the Museum of Art and Culture.
I found an extremely cheap place for breakfast – Coral Cafe where traditional Chinese dishes can be purchased in combo for 30HKD. It is near the entrance to Chungking Mansions on the left-hand side and up by the escalator.
It is a beautiful and pleasant place. There are lots of shops on the way to the park as well as currency exchange offices. At the park there are some figures of anime characters (Japanese cartoon).
Just cooking some sweet potatoes…
Hong Kong Central Business District
If you catch a boat from Star Ferry you can get to HK CBD. It only costs 3HKD.
All I can say is the logistics of the place are incredible. Those highways and walking bridges piercing the buildings, it is just a great deal of space.
Though what made me concerned is the amount of people occupying these bridges and fenced by the cardboard boxes with all sort of kitchenware and somewhat not bad smartphones. I am not sure if they live there,but when I was on my way back to the ferry terminal they did not look like they were going anywhere. Guessing the property prices are so skyrocketing, people are struggling to buy it.
Hong Kong Park
There are quite few parks in Hong Kong and they are very well designed in terms of location and content. I just really like parks and their calming atmosphere, so I could not visit this one 🙂
After the park I was going to visit Mt. Victoria. When I reached the ticket offices for the tramway that takes you all the way up, I saw an endless queue and that is when the idea of hiking appeared.
On the way I was passing by zoological and botanical gardens so I decided to pop in to have a look and cut the distance a bit.
I took me about 30 minutes to get to the top (I should have been going to the gym more often!) Just follow the signs as below and you will be sweet as!
There are two view points – for free and not for free. If you want to get to the free one just get to the Glass Elevator and it will take you there. I was pretty happy just to see HK from the free view point 🙂
Night-time HK was so pretty and alive, so if you are into clubbing and night-life, you will love this place!
New Zealand fish&chips!!!
What I wish I had visited
Disneyland! The entrance ticket costs 499HK$ (~100NZD). In the end of the day I am a poor student 😀 So I decided to leave it for the next visit. Someone on couchsurfing suggested to visit Ocean Park instead.
I also wish I had visited the Giant Buddha statue, but maybe next time.
Getting to the airport
It is a lot cheaper to get to the airport by airport shuttle bus. The ticket is only 33HKD but it takes about an hour to get there from Tsim Sha Tsui, the bus stop N21, the bys number A21. It goes every 15 minutes. Keep in mind that you will not be getting a change if you give more than 33HKD.
It is a multinational centre full of bright shops and cultures. I would not want to live in HK just because it is so full of people plus living in such a city means “rate races” for ever. But it was a great place for visiting. Do not forget to try some Dim Sum, it is delicious!