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Welcome to Hong Kong

The few days that we spent in Hong Kong were not our first experience of Asia, but it had been sometime since we travelled there and have really not done that much of it at all (but with plans for much more). Travelling from Europe to Australia to visit family and friends requires a stopover in Asia somewhere. Rather than doing it 'straight through', we decided to take a couple of days to see Hong Kong. A couple of days that happened to coincide with Christmas Day, so we thought that would be different.

Arriving at the amazingly modern airport, Chek Lap Kok, and boarding the fast, clean train system that takes you downtown in a matter of minutes, was simple. As we arrived damn early on Christmas morning, the place was pretty much dead, so straight through and onwards towards our hotel - the Renaissance Kowloon. Nice, large hotel with friendly staff and a room ready for us, which was a relief after a long flight from The Netherlands (~ 13hrs) although it helped that we were upgraded to business class on Cathay Pacific (we were fortunate enough to also be upgraded Hong Kong - Melbourne, but had to slug it out in economy class all the way back to Europe!). After an hour or two of catch up sleep, we hit the town to explore the sights. We had exactly two full days there and Hong Kong is small enough to see most of it in this time.

Hong Kong harbour and the impression skyline
Hong Kong harbour and the impressive skyline

Places of Interest: A fair amount to see and do in Hong Kong, but doesn't appear to be that cultural. Or maybe it's just a different type of culture. I guess being under British rule for so long and now back to Chinese, it's a little mixed. But that's ok as it offers a nice mix of the new and old. Similar to areas we found whilst living in Dubai. Much of Hong Kong seems dedicated to the shopper (see below) with traditional street stores in between the gleaming shopping malls. To get away from these, we found a nice walk through the Kowloon Gardens or taking the ferry over to Hong Kong Island extremely pleasant. But for the best view of the city, apparently you have to head up to Victoria Peak. We didn't actually do this as, although it was Christmas Day, the line-up at the tram station was more than a mile long. Hmmm, have to give that one a miss, or so we thought. On the second day, we caught the bus (can't remember what number but it left from right outside our hotel) for the Stanley Street markets, over on the other side of the island, and of course this needs to go up and over the hills. So, by doing this, and seeing a great little area with plenty of bars and restaurants plus some of the areas outside the main tourist areas, we experienced fantastic views over Hong Kong! Strolling along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront on Kowloon is also an excellent place for views over the water to the business district skyscrapers, all of which 'come alive' at night with an amazing light and music show. Great for people watching too.

Shopping: Take your pick! As mentioned, we experienced Stanley Street markets for more traditional Asian products a 'bargaining prices', Nathan Road is also famous and packed with different clothing and electrical stores (this area was our first port of call as soon as the stores opened!), or one of the big malls or stores in the Tsim Sha Tsui area. Some items are cheaper than Europe, others more expensive, so shop around if you have the time.

Street markets    Gleaming shopping malls
                        Street markets                                                            Shopping malls galore

Eating: Hong Kong is packed with everything for food lovers. From small, local eating houses where they either speak English or you point to something that looks good (like all cities, you pick the place that is crowded with locals to know if it's any good) which we tried on a few occasions, to Western chain stores like McDonald's, Starbucks, etc (which we avoided) to high-end five star restaurants (which we tried for Christmas dinner out on the waterfront to watch the light show. It wasn't exactly your traditional Christmas dinner, but they did give you a gift for the occasion!).

Hong Kong harbour on Xmas night
The beautiful Christmas lights on the buildings

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