Neither of us slept on the overnighter on a budget airline from Mumbia to Hong Kong via Bangalore (where I think I may have spent the most ever for an airport beer). The sun rose as we approached Hong Kong. I could see the long bridges, islands and ships. We spent a few hours in the airport waiting to check-in to our perfect accommodation for a few nights: City Oasis Guesthouse.
A 10 minute cab ride and we, with all our luggage, arrived at a large parking lot with trucks, a couple of shops in shipping containers and a backdrop of lush green foliage. Our accommodation was conveniently located on Lantau Island, close to the airport and about half an hour by bus and train to the city. We walked off the road and waited on a small bridge over an almost dry water channel. Our host,Terry, arrived, loaded our gear onto a sturdy cart and walked us to a small village, comprised of about a dozen small apartment blocks. Our room, a top floor corner apartment, overlooked the greenery to the tower blocks.
The afternoon of our first day we walked to Ma Wan Chung Village and Yat Tung Estates. Yat Tung Estates, a series of tower blocks with community and shopping facilities at street level, provided convenient dining and shopping.
One of its markets, the Hong Kong Market which replicates an older Hong Kong, is frequently used as a film location.
We walked along walkways and over a small bridge to Ma Wan Chung Village. A collection of picturesque, funky buildings with narrow walkways extends over the waterfront and onto the docks.
We saw several seafood restaurants but we were too early for dinner. We explored the nearby paths and roads, finding an old fort’s location, guarding the harbour and a view of the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars.
We returned to our room and sat on the balcony, watching as the sun set and the lights came on in the tower blocks accompanied by the sounds of water and frogs.
We had two full days in Hong Kong. Terry supplied us with maps, information and suggestions. We decided on town for day one and hill hiking day two.
By the time we sorted ourselves, walked to the Estates for breakfast and waited for the right bus it was noon before we were on the MTR to Hong Kong Central.
While above ground we watched the passing land/cityscapes. A cemetery stacked on a hillside between housing, roads and rail highlighted the city’s density. We disembarked and walked up to street level.
I’d found some vegetarian restaurants on Google Maps so we set off, threading our way along the packed streets. We found an alley with numerous small restaurants but all the signage was in Chinese and the restaurants packed. We settled for stuffed buns from a bakery and walked on. Soon we discovered the elevated walkways, freeing us from street level congestion.
Prominent signage helped us find our way though shopping malls to the ferry terminal where we caught a bus to the Victoria Peak tram terminal.
The ride up was short and steep. We found a coffee shop in the Peak terminus with reasonable prices and a view over the city. We saw folks wandering off down a path to a viewpoint and beyond.
After stopping at the viewpoint we walked down a winding path, stopping frequently to marvel at the views. Surrounded by lush greenery we looked out at the tops of the high-rises while descending.
The streets angled down dramatically. Teslas, Jags, Bentleys etc. lined the roads.
We were in Lan Kwai Fong, close to Soho, hip central in Hong Kong. We stopped for a still pricey Happy Hour beer. While sitting street side we marvelled at trucks maneuvering to make deliveries. As the light faded we made our way back to the ferry terminal where we boarded the classic Star Ferry to Kowloon.
From the the ferry terminal we made our way to the Temple Street Night Market. We walked the length of the market, along with hordes of tourists. Before turning back we stopped for a seafood dinner and watched the passing scene. Colourful signs and shops lit the night.
We walked back to the ferry terminal, along the busy streets, passing endless shops with their brilliant signage. Soon we were back in our quiet apartment, enjoying the night sounds: loud frogs, lashing rain and occasional thunder.
The next day the rain poured down. Although we really wanted/needed to go for a walk in the hills it was just too wet. We spent some time in the local shopping centre, browsing the markets and finding yet a few more things to take home. Then we headed back to the city centre. Eventually the rain drove us into a cinema for the opening of Captain Marvel. After the show we wandered back to Kowloon to watch the evening lights. And walked though more high end shopping malls.
The next morning we rose early and with Terry’s assistance hauled our luggage back to the road, caught a taxi to the airport and began our long journey home. How long? All told: 32 hours. With little sleep. Our flight to Tokyo went smoothly but then our flight on to San Diego was delayed. We arrived with little time to make our connection to Seattle only to discover that all flights in and out of Seattle were delayed by snow. Snow! We were back to winter. After spending hours in SeaTac we finally boarded our flight to Victoria. Only to have that delayed by a medical emergency. We arrived at the Victoria airport after midnight. I was so tired and chilled I couldn’t sleep. Finally, sometime that afternoon, in a semi-hallucinatory state I fell asleep.
For months I was haunted by our short stay in Hong Kong. But more about that in the next post!