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Hong Kong - Part 1 (this one's for Pauline!)

(Hong Kong from Victoria Peak)

Okay. I know. In my last entry I promised to get back to current events... Apparently, I lied. Well, I didn't really lie. I just forgot that I had promised Pauline (Pauline is my sister's husband's mother. Anyone know an easier way to say that?) ...

(Pauline and her granddaughter Beth. Photo from Christmas 2005)
(Due to certain comments and confusions I am now trying to be clearer about who people are not not just assume that you all know what I'm talking about.)

some Hong Kong travel advice as she is going to be there very soon (like tomorrow) for about two weeks during Chinese New Year. Since I get these kinds of requests often and sometimes don't quite get around to writing everything out for people, I thought perhaps I should just post it all here on my little blog. This way anyone can refer to it whenever they choose.

So that's my explanation for lying.

And, probably because the my photo album is organized from present to past... I'll share my photos from my third trip to Hong Kong first.

I flew from Auckland to Hong Kong on Jan. 27th 2007. Exactly one year after leaving Canada. I had to fly on this date, because otherwise I would've lost my flight and been forced to buy a new one. I guess that's a good thing because otherwise who knows how long I would've put off leaving New Zealand.

I know, I know... I take too many photos out plane windows.

I was extremely excited to meet up with Kelly, (ex-flatmate from Toronto and friend extrodinaire).

Kelly on the Lantau Island cable car

Kelly flew all the way over from Canada to spend one whole month with me exploring Hong Kong and Thailand. Our Thailand adventures are chronicled here.

Alright. I promised some HK travel advice... So here's my first piece of advice: Base yourself in Causeway Bay. There is so much to see, amazing shopping, its close to the Metro (with a tourist information booth in the station) and you don't have to deal with all the annoying "Hey Lady! Buy a watch/suit/whatever" guys who constantly yell at you in the streets of Kawloon. If you are travelling on a limited budget (ie. Hostel Budget) check out Wang Fat Hostel. It ain't the prettiest or the most comfortable (some beds are rock hard, traditional apparently, and others are more western style comfortable), but it sure is cheap (and clean enough). And the guy who runs it (can't remember his name) is very very nice.

Second piece of advice: Drink loads of mango aloe jelly drinks. Or any other jelly drinks. I'm not sure how they make them, but they sure are yummy.

Third: Go to the tourist information center as soon as you can. There's one in the airport as well as others dotted around the city. At different times of the year there will be tonnes of promotions. The first time I went there were free Duk Ling Tours of the harbour (photos in another entry), free cooking classes, free feng shui classes... just to name a few.

Forth: Take the tram up to Victoria Peak before nightfall and then wait around. (See first photo)

Fifth: Go check out all the markets. There are so many and they're all pretty great. My favourites were the Ladies Market (there's lots of stuff for men too) and the Mong Kok Computer Centre (yes I am a geeky girl who loves gadgets). Both are in Kawloon and are fairly close together. Mong Kok Computer Centre is actually a mall rather than a market and has an incredible amount of shops packed into a four-story building. And has much better prices than what you'll find in the more touristy shopping areas.

Sixth: Watch the Symphony of Lights. It happens every nice evening and some of the evenings its timed to music. It happens both on the Hong Kong side and Kawloon, but is best view from Kawloon's "Avenue of Stars" on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. I went a bunch of times and saw it from both sides. We even timed it one night so we could take the ferry across and watch it from the water.

Okay, enough of that... back to photos.

Kelly and I did a few amazing outings. (Its actually very difficult to do anything boring in Hong Kong.) I'm not sure which one would be a favourite, but if you need to get away from the hustle, bustle and pollution then a trip to Stanley could be in order.

Stanley is on the southern tip of Hong Kong Island. Its a traditional fishing village with a lovely beach, temples, a famous market and of course all the other amenities like restaurants, galleries, etc.

(naw... just look at the lil' temple. everything's always cuter when it's little)

Another brilliant outing is Lantau Island to visit the Tian Tan Buddha (more info here), or more simply, the Big Buddha. At 34 meters high, he is the largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha, or something like that. At any rate... he's real big. You have to take the train back out towards the airport and then a really really long cable car ride to get to him.

Once you get to the top of the mountain there are plenty of things to do besides see the Buddha, like drink tea (and look out this window at the Buddha):

Or visit the museum, eat a vegetation dinner at the monastery and of course, shop for tacky souvenirs:

Of course, the Buddha ain't bad either.

The stuff around the Buddha is real pretty too....

Hmmm... I guess I should post some photos of Hong Kong proper... This one was taken from Kawloon, looking towards Hong Kong Island. (There's a better one I posted ages ago here)

Some street photos in Kawloon.

Some random suburb (not sure, but maybe close to the Big Buddha?)


Hey Heather:
Am at the Jashin restaurant - great place - very wholesome, organic like, tasty and grrreat. The weather has finally warmed up - still jacket weather 'tho. YOur pics are fab. I'm workin' on mine. Still have many things to see - in Soho right now - going up the escalator - what a shopping mecca. Write to my email 'cause I pick it up almost daily. Running out of cash - are we surprised. Saw the light show twice now - and will again and again. Going to the places you mentioned over the next few days. Will keep you posted. Enjoyed your pics. P.S. got a current phone of moi???? Will be on Skype when I return to Shenzhen (Feb 13) In the meantime, HK is fantabuloso!