James here for a guest post! The “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China” wouldn’t stamp our passports with Chinese stars, but the city of just over 7 million people has heavy Chinese influence. British influence too. Their people speak Cantonese and English.
We left Tokyo early that morning, and the train ride from Hong Kong Int’l Airport to the city was only about 25 minutes. We overshot our cheap rental unit by a block or two, and found ourselves in a local meat market shaded by huge global banking firms. Looking at the low priced fish and fruit being sold to locals for pennies to the dollar, I remember thinking the wage gap between rich and poor must be pretty huge.
The other thing was that it was hot! Not the dry kind of heat we get in the western states, but the kind of heat that makes the air weigh twice what it ought to. Our clothes stuck to us like glue.
Anyways, we got our things sorted, took a nap, and went on a pub crawl! The roads actually have a series of moving walkways and escalators elevated above the traffic, and all the bars were pretty much accessible via this engineering. We met a Spaniard wearing an Oakland Raiders hat and a couple from India living in Dubai. It was fun!
The following day consisted of riding an old trolley the top of Victoria’s peak. The views up here were so good that we decided to spend the entire day up there. We ate dinner at none other than Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. and watched a sunset over fried appetizers (sorry, Crystal) and Caesar salad.
Here is a picture from Victoria’s peak during the day….
… and at night. Pretty spectacular.
Now, if you were to ask me what I wanted to do the next day I don’t know what I would have said, I probably would have just wanted to wander the streets and take pictures of Hong Kong from below. What our friends Cher and Mike suggested was that we instead grab a ferry to Macau for the day. Macau is a Portuguese colony that claims itself as the “Las Vegas of Asia”. We totally went. It was only 45 minutes on a boat.
Macau and Hong Kong bore similarities, except rather than the locals living in the shade of global banking firms, they host big casinos instead!
We made our way to the old town, the Portuguese part. It was like jumping into Europe for an afternoon.
They had old forts, cathedrals, you name it.
We clamored up to a viewpoint and met some women in traditional garb on the way.
Macau’s casinos were a little anticlimactic, only because they lacked a certain bustle of a Vegas casino. It didn’t stop Mike and I from playing the penny slots though… Too bad the house always wins. We went back to Hong Kong 40 HKD poorer, the price of a day’s supply of bottled water. (Sorry fellow hippies, can’t drink the tap).
Our friends caught a bird back to the states, but my travel buddy and I had one extra day to kill. We rode a ferry to the other side of the bay, Kowloon, and looked back at the city. If you like cityscapes, Hong Kong is a must see.
They also have these traditional boats called “junkers” that will take you up and down the bay for cheap. They light up at night and add a lot of flavor to the hazy atmosphere.
That’s pretty much it! This leg of our travels was pretty great. I think a lot of foreigners live in Hong Kong, so it was easy to find non-traditional cuisine and shopping. Maybe next time we’ll spend a little more time sampling local food and even try and find some shrines or temples. Apparently there is even a big Buddha nearby, similar to the one we found in Seoraksan. The fun thing about these stops is you can’t see it all in one trip, all the more reason to come back some day. Thanks for reading guys!