Hong Kong – Temples, skyscraper, shopping hell and more things to explore
Hong Kong is a huge and a small city in one. Huge by its number of inhabitants living on a comparatively small area.
On the first glance the city seems to be very big but soon we figured out that it easily can be explored in two or three days if you want and don’t have more time. The most sights can be reached by MTR which already brought us via airport express to the Kowloon or in fast 24 minutes to Central station on Hong Kong island for around 10 USD one way. At the airport we bought (you need cash for) an Octopus card – which also can be recharged and used to pay in the 7/11 and other shops – for the public transport. The MTR lines have different colors instead of numbers and are easy to understand. Almost every citizen is taking the public transport why it can by very crowded at some times of the day but the most people are not rushing and waiting in lines – very unusual to me as European citizen – which makes it more relaxed. Other possibilities to go around are using the bus lines all over the city and the Ding – Ding – the old trams which can be found on HKG island -.
But to which places brought us the reliable MTR and as well our feet which we stressed a bit in these almost days?
On our first (whole) day we started from our hotel in Sheung Wang – an area full of galleries, bars and restaurants and also called China town because of the huge amount of shops selling Chinese delicacies – to the Man Mo Temple which was built in 1847 and declared as a monument. From there we took the Mid Level Escalators – the longest escalator covered outdoor system in the world -. The whole construction is 800m and in 2010 used daily by 85.000 pedestrians. From here we were heading toward the Peak Tram. Unfortunately we figured out it was the completely wrong time of the day when we arrived because the expected waiting time was about two hours. Time to change plans and take the MTR to Tsim Tsa Shui to get a glimpse of the hustle and bustle on the other side of the water. Here we founds malls, sellers of fake designer bags and watches at every corner, markets and an endless amount of shops while we were roaming around without a plan until our feet quit their job.
When we woke up on the next day we checked the view/weather and all we found was thick fog. Nevertheless we stood up early and decided to take the Peak Tram because this was day two without view. We were lucky and the line was very short. On our way up the hill we still could see the shapes of the skyscraper but on the top the view was just ZERO. What a pity and decision maker for another plan. Taking the MTR and going to the Nan Lian Garden and the Chi Lin Nunnery more in the North of Kowloon. The Nan Lian Garden is an open for everybody garden with hills, water features, trees, rocks and wooden structures, which partly looking a bit unreal in this oasis between the greyish skyscraper. Despite the free entrance this place was not very crowded and we could enjoy the relaxed surrounding while roaming around. Next to the garden the Chi Lin Nunnery is situated and invited us to explore the wooden temples and have a look on the golden buddha statues. Totally different to the next place we were heading to. The Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple just one MTR station or a 10 min stroll away. Crowds of tourists were roaming around the colorful temple and locals bringing offerings. A more relaxed place and green oasis between the skyscraper is the Kowloon park – our last stop for the day -. Perfect to enjoy our food we picked up earlier at a deli and have a break for our feet.
The view on day three was not the best but better than the days before. Time for taking the train and visiting Lantau Island – 30 min away the less populated island is situated close to the airport -. We were lucky that we only had to wait 30 min in the line for the cable car – with more than 5km the longest cable car in the world -. The view from the glass bottom cabin over the airport and some skyscraper was amazing. On the hill we started exploring the – a bit touristy – Ngong Ping. The Tian Tan – the Big Buddha statue – is standing and overlooking the island. We climbed the 268 steps upwards to see the Big Buddha from close distance. Afterward we explored the Po Linh Monastry. The way down we made by bus which is a much cheaper and faster possibility because the line of waiting people is much shorter. For the evening the Symphony of light was on our bucket list. After we almost were late because we underestimated the distances again. Standing at the seafront in Kowloon we and all the other hundreds of people could see the skyline and the light show on HK island. For the relaxed part of the day – having some drinks – we had to go back to the island but instead of taking the MTR we took the Star Ferry to enjoy the view of both skylines.
Today it is our last day in Hong Kong but before we leave Asia it was some time left which we used to find some souvenirs. Here for we went to Ladies market in Mong Kok. A long street full of market stalls on both sides selling a bit of everything – from (faked) handbags/purses to mobile phone accessories and more Chinese knickknacks -. The next station was another visit at the Temple Street night market – selling more knickknacks and souvenirs – were we had been before while roaming Kowloon. The area of this market is also perfect for sea food lover. Around the market street food stall are selling very fresh sea food dishes also for a small budget. After we found one or to souvenirs it was time to go back to the hotel pick up our luggage and to say good-bye Hong Kong.