Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2 days in Hong Kong

How has it been 6 months since I have posted? How am I so far behind on life?  I don't even have kids to blame for that. Since I last posted I haven't done any fun traveling but have been to Hong Kong/China 3 times for work.  On my last work trip I stayed two extra days in Hong Kong to do some exploring and try to learn the city a little bit more.  When I'm there with co-workers I usually follow them around and do what they want and that does not allow me to learn where I am and how to get from A to B.  This post is a combination of my last few trips, most of my activities were totally tourist based but still thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.

First thing, the Big Buddha, I actually did this solo back in November.  I found my way from Tsim Tsa Tsui where I was staying to Tian Tan Buddha on the subway, it was easy as pie.  I love the Hong Kong MTR, it is so simple and a great way to get around for cheap. The Big Buddha is a tourist destination on Lantau Island by the airport and Disneyland.  Yes, that sounds horrible, but it absolutely is not.  You have to get through the looong line to get on the cable car to Ngong Ping Village up in the hills.  But once you are on that cable car it is so enjoyable.  The views are absolutely gorgeous, you head first out over a bay then into the green tropical hills. It is quiet you can hear the wind against the car.

As you approach the top of the cable car ride you get a glimpse of the Buddha
You get dropped off at the start of Ngong Ping Village which is basically a street of tourist trap type stores trying to get you to buy crap you don't need.  I quickly made my way through that and to the staircase up to the statue.  There were people everywhere but that didn't seem to matter, there was still a quiet like zen around the place.

Now Tan Tian Buddha is there as the major center of Buddhism in Hong Kong.  And right next to it is Po Lin Monastary.  I wish I had read more about it beforehand and explored the tea garden and explored the "wisdom path."  Instead I wandered around and enjoyed the amazing scent of incense in the air which will forever remind me of Bali.  There are large pots everywhere where Buddhist light packets of incense and it smells like heaven.

Tourist destination or not I loved it, and I will go back and explore that tea garden and wisdom path.


When I decided to stay solo in Hong Kong I had to find a hotel that didn't break the bank. When I'm there for work I usually get treated to very nice accommodations but on my own I can't afford those accommodations. So the question became, where can I stay that I can afford.  Hotels.com and Trip Advisor helped me find Butterfly on Morrison which is in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island.  I had to decide between the "Hong Kong Side" and the "Kowloon Side" and I think I made the right decision.  Hong Kong Island is what could be considered the nicer side of the city so I suppose it depends on what you're there for.  The Kowloon side is considered more gritty and authentic. Butterfly on Morrison was in an awesome location.  I think I paid about $160/night for three nights.  My room was tiny but that didn't matter.  It was clean and modern and I could walk to the Causeway Bay MTR station and there was all kinds of shopping close by. Because when in Hong Kong you shop.

One of the main things I wanted to do was to go to street markets because those are always fun.  I took the subway from Causeway bay to Mongkok to go to the Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street which is not exclusively for us ladies.  I enjoyed the experience, walking through the crowded street with people yelling "copy handbag, copy watches?" at you.  But it was all junk, junk you could get in Chinatown in LA.  I walked away with nothing which is always good for the wallet.  I also visited Sneakers Street which is parallel to Ladies Market on Fa Yuen Street and known for it's insane amount of footwear and sportswear.  And it was insane and full of sneakers. I might have caved and bought some workout clothes.

Ladies Market
All in all a cool experience worth doing once.

And here's where I get to the food.  I am a vegetarian, and being a vegetarian in China is SO hard.  They eat SO MUCH meat and they really do not understand the concept of vegetarian.  My stomach literally just shuts down when I am in China and all I eat is fruit and the granola bars and trail mix I packed in my suitcase. Oh and Starbucks every day because it is a taste of home. So after a week of work in China it was nice to come back to Hong Kong and eat good food.  I was lucky enough to have some hosts, the sales manager for our distributor in Hong Kong and his wife found me vegetarian food and took me out to dinner two nights in a row.  It was nice to have the company of locals (he is from Hong Kong, she is German) and to get their perspective on everything.  I love talking to people from other countries. We went to Kung Tak Lam in the World Trade Center and I stuffed my face.  It was so good. The ambiance of the restaurant left a bit to be desired, it was too bright and the staff was pretty bad.  But I didn't care, I was eating.

The second night we went to Happy Veggies in Wan Chai and I loved it even more.  It was fun and cozy and the staff were all special needs people which was so nice to see.  Apparently it is very difficult to get a job in Hong Kong when you have disabilities.

I've done a few nights out in Hong Kong.  I went to Lan Kwai Fong on Halloween last year, it was madness.  That's an area where there's lots of clubs and upscale restaurants.  This time I went out in Wan Chai and I think I enjoyed it more since I made it to 3am. I met people from 10 different countries, sat in a bar where all the bartenders were obviously Filipino hookers while it got raided by the police (they didn't even glance at me) and learned there's plenty of Thai lady boys in Hong Kong as well.  To me, a very fun night.  I don't know the names of the places we went, I wasn't paying attention.  But I will definitely do another night out in Wan Chai.

I was also lucky enough that my host took the time out of his Saturday to give me a tour of Hong Kong. We started the day at Kam Shan Country Park to see the monkeys.  I would like to go back and hike there...when I haven't stayed out until 3am the night before. Then he drove me all the way around Hong Kong Island which was amazing.  The amount of money there is mind blowing and it is so beautiful and scenic. Unfortunately I did not take a lot of photos. My favorite part of Hong Kong Island is Stanley.  It's a beautiful little area with bars and restaurants along the water and is home to Stanley Market, yet another place where you can buy cheap stuff, from electronics to handbags.

After Stanley we circled around and went to Shek-O Beach and stopped for tea.  It was January and chilly so not really a day for the beach.  But when it is warm and sunny in Hong Kong the beaches can be a nice getaway from the city. I paid a visit to Big Wave Bay last summer.

All in all my 2 days in Hong Kong was fun and full and I left to get on my plane exhausted and wanting to see more.  I'm headed back in a few weeks so I'm sure I'll have more info.