I’m back in Hong Kong, the start and end point of my Asia travels. The plan was to do some shopping, sight seeing, but the main focus was to explore the other side of HK. people rarely look past the sky scrapers and congestion and madness of this place, but there is another beautiful side – which I discovered. I stayed in the same hotel, Lodgewood by L’hotel Monk Kok, and I would so recommend this place. Really reasonable, the staff always happy to help, and the room was excellent with LOADS of storage space. Details in Part 1.
I’ve also got a separate post for food, so I’ll just focus on my highlights of HK. I could have had a blog post for each of these – but for now you’ll have to do with just this one.
So over the years my shopping threshold has dropped drastically. I don’t have the time or patience for it, I’m usually a ‘I know what I want and I’m going to get it’ kind of gal. So where did I go in HK?
Citygate Outlet Mall
I was off to Tian Tan (the Big Buddha) and I had to get to the last stop on the MTR – location of a massive mall. A whole load of sports shops, fashion stores and a massive supermarket stocking familiar goodies (hello Waitrose!) it was packed. It had a mixture of normal and high end shops, all with really good discounts. Worth going to check out the bargains.
This place has always been manic, Ladies market especially. Street upon street of same same but different fake but original crap. 100% tourist focused, if you go here, you must bargain. The main reason I went here – to get these amazing durable reusable bags (yep – those ones Lil!). I got about half a dozen – starting off at HKD39 for one down to HKD10 for one. Don’t mess with me!
I also went to Sai Yeung Choi Street in the heart of Mong Kok – lots of high street clothes shops and electronic shops – where I did a bit of shopping – clothes for my niece (Giordano, Bossini), toiletries (Sasa, Bonjour), a couple of ipads, a cool camera and basically that is it.
The rest of the malls I visited were FULL of high end names (why spend money there? Save it for food and travelling!!), and I was merely passing through to my next destination. So if you are a shopaholic, this is the place for you, but not for me. I will say that the place that brought me joy was M&S – after months on the road, a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a tub of hummus tasted utterly gorgeous!
Dragon Boat Festival
I was fortunate to be in HK when the Dragon Boat Festival was on, and I got to see two flavours of it!
So this was clearly a big deal for locals – the plan was to get a bus from Central, we got there but the bus terminal was PACKED but in true HK style, organised and efficient. We spent only 15 minutes queuing before hopping on a bus. Once again, the ride (which took about an hour) was pretty scenic. The atmosphere in Stanley was excellent. It was a beautiful day, perfect for chilling and watching the races – which is exactly what happened. While there, I also visited the Tin Hau temple – most enjoyable.
The other place where I checked out the action was Central. Very crazy but without the chilled vibe of Stanley. There were loads of food stalls (nothing for me to eat), activity stalls and beer stalls. A lot of fun again – but I preferred Stanley.
Tian Tan Buddha
The plan was to take the Ngong Ping cable car from Tung Chung MTR station to the peak, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance. I ended up taking a terribly scenic bus ride up to the statue. I actually preferred it this way – so much more to see.
The Buddha was as majestic as I had remembered from last time. Even the hoardes of tourists didn’t put me off. You can easily take pics from the bottom of the statue and then go off exploring, but I wanted to go to the top. I did buy a ticket (entry to the museum at the top and a standard lunch), and I think it was definitely worth it. The paid for museum has some of the best oriental watercolours I have ever come across. Sadly, we couldn’t take photos so you’ll have to take my word for it. The lower free ‘museum’ is also interesting, but not as impressive as the paid one. It was a seriously hot day, but there are so many souvenir shops before getting into the complex, there was no shortage of cold drinks.
Touristy stuff done, I went off the beaten track and walked around the trails – a beautiful one being the wisdom path – absolutely stunning and peaceful. I loved this place and spent a whole day here. Quiet, peaceful, so much greenery, bugs galore – yep. This is HK nature. Whoo!
Hong Kong Park
This has always been one of my favourite spaces in HK. A beautiful and chilled out park, surrounded by sky scrapers. I also visited the Botanical centre in the park – loads of flowers – stunning stunning orchids, cacti, a tropical garden, definitely worth visiting, more so if you have kiddies. That, along with a waterfall, enough benches dotted around, makes for a lovely space. Loved it.
Hong Kong island does have one of the best skylines in the world. I love seeing it from Kowloon side, and from the peak. So even though I had done this before, I wanted to go up again. So the last time I went in the Peak Tram. Guess what? Under maintenance. So, the bus it was. And once again, SO much better. The views were truly excellent – I would so recommend this over the tram – and it is cheaper :). The other thing – don’t pay to go up to the observation deck. The views lower down are just as beautiful.
What I LOVED doing was walking down all the way back to Central instead of taking the bus back. The walk is very safe, all paved, but you’re surrounded by trees and lots of foliage. It did take about 30 minutes and it was a surreal experience. I did think I was in the middle of a nature walk, until I’d get a glimpse of a tall apartment block or hear some traffic. You are literally going downhill the whole way, so if you have dodgy knees, be careful. Better than coming up though – some people were doing that, and they were panting like dogs.
HK Biological and Botanical Gardens
This is another green space in the centre of the madness, and another pretty space. Along with all the flora and fauna dotted around, there are loads of animals and birds. I’m not the biggest fan of zoos and caged animals, thankfully the largest animal was a lemur. But birds? No! Birds are meant to fly! This place was full of locals, very few tourists on the day I was there. The highlight? A pond with musical amphibians. Very entertaining. This is the perfect place to animal watch if you want to take a break from people watching (love HK for that – so many characters!)
Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens
So, as you can tell, I’m on a nature roll, and the next stop was mentioned to me by a friend – and that is where I met my newest friend in HK (Hi J!). I know I sound like a broken record, but I LOVED this place. A trek to get to – but very clear directions, and this place has it’s own bus stop so if you get lost, well.. you have a problem then.
There was the option of using the Farm shuttle to take me to the top of the farm and on the way, stop and check out certain attractions. It was either that or walking uphill for a couple of hours. Alright then. Bus it is.
The Fern Walk and Orchid Haven were exactly that. Lots of ferns of different shapes and sizes. The orchids – just a handful were flowering – but still worth it. The memorial pavillion was a very pretty space, with views of the mountains and trees. My favourite stop was Kwun Yum Shan, a space dedicated to the goddess of love and compassion. Beautifully manicured garden, a circular path surrounding the statue – and a beautiful energy to the place. The butterfly park was excellent – lots and lots of butterflies and flowers, I spent almost an hour here just checking them out. That meant that I missed the shuttle bus so walked back down to the main farm – another hour – but more stops on the way – birds, pond life, places to sit and take it all in. You could walk around the farm, there were greenhouses with more beautiful orchids, a small organic garden, a pig sty with ginormous pigs – I would so recommend this place. The vegetarian cafe onsite was also great, but a tad expensive.
HK Wetland Park
The wetland park was another expansive space, it took a while to get to, using both the MTR and the LRT. Now I assumed that they both use the Octopus card (they do) but I didn’t realise I had to tap out of the MTR and into the LRT. Result? I got a telling off! And a warning! I wasn’t fined as ‘I was a tourist’. Moving on (quickly), I picked a searingly hot day to explore the park. There is an entrance fee to pay (HKD30) that gives you access to all areas. There was a massive, modern exhibition centre with an education zone (full of cute kids), a souvenir shop (nothing worth buying) and a cafe (overpriced and not very good I was told). I didn’t spend too much time indoors, but we walked around where we could. Lots of shades areas, lots of nooks and crannies to cool down in when the sun got too hot. Lots of birds (there were even bird watching shelters), butterflies, flowers and crabs – among the mangroves. I would love to come back to this place in the winter – or when it is colder – I think it would have a completely different feel to it. Another must see.
A Symphony of Lights – Victoria Harbour
Yes yes, possibly cringingly touristy but I loved it. Walking along to the harbour on Kowloon side, we noticed it was pretty packed. Whoo! Light show! But first, I took lots of stunning photos of the harbour. So so pretty. All those colours. The light show – also very colourful – was very kawaii to watch, with cheesy music too.. I did this on my last night, I think it was a perfect way to end my HK adventure.
I’ve always liked HK, and discovering her green side made me love the place. Don’t let anyone tell you it is all skyscrapers and madness and crowds. It is all that – but there is a lot more, and all you need to do is scratch below the surface… looking forward to the next visit already!
And that is it for all my epic travels in 2017. I have loved every day of travelling – some more than others. The highlight? Culture and Nature goes without saying. But the people. I met so many people. Locals, fellow Brits, a whole load of Aussies – so many wonderful people who I am keeping in touch with and already planning dinners and visits – it has been an amazing experience.
So back to work soon – but it isn’t going to be just work – I’m planning 2 holidays for the rest of the year. That should keep me going. Until then? Keep your eyes open for my ongoing London food adventures.
Here is to a lifetime of good food and never ending travel! 😘