05.12.2013 - 08.12.2013 20 °C
You know when the stars are all aligned, the Moon's in Uranus and Saturn's rising... or some such twaddle... when everything just turns out brilliantly and goes in your favour? Well, for us this was Hong Kong. We had a really great time here.
Firstly, it was down to our accommodation. I know it's probably not terribly interesting to read about where we stay... but I have to tell you about this place.
Now, Hong Kong isn't cheap - the city drips wealth. High end shops, malls, hotels and super cars are in abundance. We did start to question if we'd made the right choice coming here as backpackers. Needless to say, you don't get much for your money... £40-50 a night basically gets you a box, so we had to up the budget as we couldn't face a 6ft sq room as our base.
For £70 a night we booked a guest room in a 2 bed apartment located on the 50th floor. The block was pretty smart with suited door attendants and fancy fittings. The apartment had floor to ceiling windows to take advantage of the mind boggling views from the lounge and our bedroom. It was awesome. Had it have been a hotel with that view you could have easily tripled the price.
The lift had a chandelier!
The incredible view from our room
And again on our first morning
Zooming in on the nearest block having spotted residents on a morning stroll on their roof
The block from the outside
How the locals live, the only way is up...
Our hosts were an extremely nice thirty-something couple from Denver, Andrew - an actuary & Maureen - an economist, who have temporarily moved to HK with Andrew's work. They made us feel right at home and chatted about things to do in the city.
The second reason it was great - it was cooler here. Well, for the locals it's winter so we saw woolly hats, thick tights and scarves... quite funny for us as at 16-21 degrees it certainly wasn't cold. We walked around in t-shirts and shorts! But it made wandering around the city really comfortable compared to every other city we've been to so far.
Lastly, it's a magical time of year to be here. The Christmas lights and decorations were very impressive, no expense spared. Entire skyscrapers and huge hotels are lit up with various festive images. A highlight was the 1881 Heritage shopping mall... it was like a fairytale.
The first morning was spent looking skyward at all the ultra modern skyscrapers. We were struck by how orderly everything was (the MRT is a dream to use), and how all of a sudden people were happy to form lines and didn't push or barge like we'd experienced in other parts of Asia.
The lines of Hong Kong...
One street you can be surrounded by luxury malls, the next in a hawker area or wet market. It's a fascinating place to wander.
Food was, at times, interesting. We found ourselves in a small all locals chinese restaurant with a confusing menu. We opted to share a beef tendon & rice dish, not least because it had the description 'delicious' in front of it. Ha ha. What arrived on our plate was a raw jelly like substance which wasn't terribly 'beefy'. I couldn't bring myself to eat it, Ant had one attempt and left the rest. We just ate the rice around it and they looked at us a bit bemused when we left!
Jellied beef anyone?
Of the many sights, we saw several markets including ladies, flower and goldfish (!), the space museum and 'the peak' - where you get great vistas of the city and harbour. It was a tad hazy for our visit, but some sweeping views all the same.
We had a great Saturday evening, having found a cosy (Aussie) bar for a couple of beers. We saw a young western guy drinking on his own so Ant invited him to join us. He'd just left the navy and was making his way to Oz to work. Turned out he was from Weymouth! We all ate there and as the place filled up, an older guy walked in and asked to join us. Interesting character... an Aussie who was over for a big horse-racing event. He wore a hat and tipped his head down when he spoke so we only ever caught every third word. He also had extremely red lower eye lids, as if he was wearing pillar-box red eyeliner. We guessed he wasn't well but it was hard not be be distracted by his appearance when talking to him.
A blues band came on, a bunch of middle-aged guys playing various brass and wind instruments. They were superb and we kept ordering more beers so we could enjoy for longer. A random night with racing red-eye man and Weymouth boy!
Having now been to the four main en-route to Australia cities in Asia... Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, Hong Kong is by far my favourite. Such a liveable city.
Fabulous place, so glad we came.