Working in Korean hagwans doesn’t always allow enough vacation time for stellar trips abroad. Hong Kong is one of those awesome retreats doable in a long weekend. Two full days is plenty of time to cross off all the items on your sightseeing list.
I would recommend staying in Kowloon. Notoriously known as one of the most densely populated regions of the world. It boasts behemoth apartment buildings leaking water from hundreds of air conditioning units, store fronts luring potential customers with their icy blasts of air, and an incredibly central position allowing easy access to the rest of the city.
As the title suggests, I planned this vacation to follow a slower pace. Being Buddha’s birthday, I felt it proper to honor the philosopher, take it easy, and go with the flow of the city. I also thought it right to give my back a break from my steel-hard bed. I stayed at the Eaton Smart Hotel. The room was great!
After settling in at the hotel, we began our weekend stroll through a night market close by. After a few blocks, our stomachs demanded fuel. We stopped at a packed restaurant and dined. I will NEVER tire of eating real Chinese food. Then we continued walking towards Victoria Harbor. Once there, you get to truly appreciate the city. Skyscrapers awake to perform their nocturnal laser show, coloring the waters below. It is most definitely a sight to add to your list. To get the best view, go down to Victoria Harbor on the Kowloon side. After drinks and live music, we retreated to our hotel.
The next day, Hong Kong Island served as our starting point. We exited Central Station from exit D1 and followed Queen’s Road right towards the Central Market building. Just before reaching the ICBC building we saw the Mid Levels. It is simply and escalator. Although, it does offer an amazing chance to wander through Hong Kong Island. The roofed, outdoor escalator leads pedestrians past hundreds of restaurants shelved silently into city blocks. It is a pleasant walk any time after 10am when the escalator switches directions and goes uphill. You can continue at the top and meander through ritzy apartment complexes or choose to head back down towards the harbor.
On our way towards the waterfront, we came across thousands of Philippians. They weren’t doing anything in particular, just sitting, eating, or doing their nails. My first reaction was to search for the protest banners. Sadly, a cab driver later informed us that they are maids enjoying their Sunday off.
We made our way through these Philippians and entered IFC Mall for a brief sanctuary from the humidity. After cooling off and window shopping we made our way to the Star Ferry. This ferry gives you a different perspective of the harbor. We opted for the cheap, quick ride across the harbor. There are river cruise packages that take passengers out for a longer ride.
Our next stop was Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street. It’s not what it sounds like. It is a giant open air, souvenir market. If you’ve been to any souvenir market in China, Korea, or Japan you aren’t missing much. It is a good place to find cheap shoes and bags though.
The prospects of eating dinner in a floating seafood fortress peaked my interest and made my stomach scream for immediate attention. Jumbo Kingdom is an amazing floating restaurant in the middle of Aberdeen Channel on the south side of Hong Kong Island. The food was amazing! It was a little on the expensive side, but how many times do you get the chance to sample authentic Cantonese cuisine in a floating restaurant?
Victoria Peak was the last item to cross off our list. I rolled myself out of the restaurant, to the ferry, back to the island, and waddled myself to a cab. The driver took us around to the other side of the island and up to the peak. At the top, we purchased tickets and made our way outside. The viewing deck does not give a spectacular angle for the laser show, but the overall view of the city is breathtaking! The hills were ablaze with thousands of tiny lights trickling down to the basin of the harbor. I really enjoyed looking out at the city lit up at night.
Finally we meet up with my friend’s friend from university for drinks. He took us to Lan Kwai Fong, the bar district popular among foreigners. We stumbled upon a bar serving Canadian beer that my travel partner hadn’t had in over a year. Further down the block, there sat a small, open-air bar serving ridiculously named shots. The store also boasted a shot challenge that we easily demolished.
There were two items that I was not able to cross off my list. They were 1). see the giant Buddha statue and 2). eat fresh dim sum. I didn’t even want to try traversing out to towards the statue during Buddha’s birthday weekend. That would have been insane. I failed to look up dim sum restaurants close to our hotel. Point of the story, do your homework. A trip to Hong Kong will be amazing, if you plan ahead! I would definitely recommend at least two full days to see everything. Two days or three weeks, I can assure you there will always be something to do, see, and eat. I enjoyed my visit and do not regret having two items uncrossed on my list. I take it as a very good omen. I will go back.