5-9th June 2016
I arrive in Hong Kong with big expectations. Everyone I have met has told me that they love the British here. Particularly because Hong Kong was ruled by Britain for a total of 156 years and until a lease ran out on Kowloon (next door to Hong Kong Island) and Britain agreed to give it back. However, Hong Kong isn’t quite part of China. They still need visa’s and Hong Kong is still allowed to practice capitalism, at least until 2047 when the next World War will probably kick off just prior to this.
History lesson over.
As always, with big expectations one is liable to fall short on this. Surely enough, as soon as I arrived at my hostel on Nathan Road, I am lumbered with more tourist scouts than I’ve ever experienced. Pakistani and Indian men approached me every five seconds (no exaggeration) asking if I’m interested in watches. The next one asks me if I’m sure. The next one tries getting me with coke. The next one asks if I’m sure. The next one tries marijuana. The next one asks me if I’m sure.
Finally, I give up and duck into a clothes shop for two moments rest. It really was only two moments because another Indian chap approached me and tried chatting me up and asking for my number. Any other time I would be flattered, laugh, and explain that I’m straight but offer to hang out none the less. Not right now. Right now I just want to be left alone. I politely decline and say good bye. I literally run to the hostel to check in.
The hostel is tiny. One floor with two rooms in a gigantic building. The beds are stacked three high and I’ve not seen a hostel this cramped until now. Apparently this is standard in Hong Kong where space is a premium. I struggle to understand why everyone’s been raving about this place.
After a much needed nap (can you tell I was a little bit cranky?!) I go out in my pyjamas on a search for comfort food. Just around the corner I find a McDonalds after shutting down the street sellers before they even say hello. As I order I can’t wait to eat something familiar. Even though I’m never too keen on it back home, ironically. The beef. The lettuce. That white bun.
Salivating I unwrap the burger…
Only to find there’s no white bun. Instead I’m faced with a rice bun. I sink a little deeper into my sit. Oh well. I eat it all up and head back to the hostel. Hopefully tomorrow goes a bit better.
The next day I decide to go see Big Buddha. The beauty of Big Buddha is the fact you can take a gondola to get there. I would prefer to have my own gondola for a rest bite today but the prices are designed for a group so I decide against that.
I smile to the lady as I pay and get chatting to her about, what else, but the weather. We get on well. When I get to the front it turns out that she has read my mind. I’ve been upgraded to a PRIVATE crystal gondola (the floor is also glass!). Thanks to this stranger’s kindness my eagerness for the world is restored.
To top it off, the views are stunning. Then I look down at my feet and this is what I can see.
Suddenly, I appreciate just how lucky I am.
After reaching the top, it’s only a short walk before I can see this “Big Buddha”. Hint: It’s pretty big!
When I make it to the top the 360 views are equally fantastic.
After milling around for a bit I head back to the hostel. I stay in, not wanting to be hassled anymore on the street. The next morning I’m meeting my Couch Surfing host where I’m staying for the next couple of nights. I sure am glad to be leaving Nathan Road and have high hopes! When I arrive I meet a lovely chap who instantly gives me a key card and key to get into his flat. How trusting! There’s also another couch surfer who’s staying with him at the moment. She’s beautiful, intelligent and is travelling from Mongolia. We decide to go grab some lunch when I remember that Veronica, who I met in China, gave me a map for Hong Kong. She kindly highlighted the best places. Included a “cheap” Michelin starred restaurant. Hesitant about what “cheap” really means but eager to try it so I suggest it.
This is certainly not something I regret. The meal was less than £20 for the two of us. Absolute bargain!
We head back to the flat before saying our goodbyes. After which I make my way to the tram to see Victoria Peak. A place many people have recommended. It’s a short queue and before long I am face to face with the tram. Which is practically at 45 degrees!! It looks unreal.
Then I reach the top.
Again, it looks unreal.
> FACT: Hong Kong does indeed have the most skyscrapers IN THE WORLD!
Over the next couple of days, I find myself loading up on anti-mosquito items in preparation for SE Asia. It’s really starting to worry me and I’m not sure what sort of conditions I should be expecting. I buy cream, patches, after cream. The lot.
As well as this I find a quirky indoor Chinese “street” market.
It’s extremely good fun walking around. On the menu is chicken with rice, yum! The chap warns me “not for westerners”. I tell him I’m fine with chopsticks and he shakes his head but goes to get the food. Turns out he meant that most westerners want something else because of how rudimentarily cut the chicken is. You have proper bones on this one. You can tell exactly which parts you eating and then put the bones together to make a chicken. It’s almost enough to make you a vegetarian. Almost.
It’s almost time to say goodbye. Just as I leave for the airport the dragon festival is starting to get in full swing. I wish I got up super early to go see a race but I would’ve only seen the opening before having to dash off. Here at the airport, it seems like all the locals are using the opportunity to dash off too!