Hong Kong — Summary

A great visit — I will be back

September 2015

I had trouble getting started with Hong Kong, but I think I got there in the end.

Photo by Author — Hong Kong Harbour at Night
Photo by Author — Hong Kong Harbour at Night

Initially, I found Hong Kong to be overpowering. I found it too big, too noisy and too busy. And too hot.

I think I found it overpowering because I had come to the city for the first time from Bali, and the contrast was a bit too much, as was the heat. Bali, I found to be relaxing and laid-back; Hong Kong felt like a slap in the face with a very hot damp towel. It was a real shock.

What saved Hong Kong for me was taking the Big Bus Tour. The tour was a little expensive, but it did provide an excellent introduction to the place. The bus ran on a big loop on the mainland and went down to the southern coast of the main island. It was a great way to see and become familiar with the geography and layout of Hong Kong. To me, the greenery and beauty of the coastline along the southern shore of Hong Kong Island was a real surprise.

I wandered around on the first day and signed up for the Big Bus tour. In my "wanderings”, I found the city overpowering. I had difficulty finding my way around and getting to "grips" with the place. Navigating was challenging due to a very weak GPS signal which meant my phone could not get a good location lock. Also, the "3-D nature" of Hong Kong didn't help. The raised walkways often meant that I passed the place I was trying to get to as it was below where I was walking.

On the bus, I explored Kowloon, a part of Hong Kong on the mainland. I completed one circuit on the bus route to get my bearings and then got off on a second loop at the most northerly point. From there, I walked back down to the harbour via the various markets (Fish Market (live fish!), Flower Market, Bird Market (live birds), Ladies Market (not selling ladies), and the Night Market (not selling knights)), and also explored some of the attractions pointed out on the bus tour. On the way back, I also caught the light show across the harbour, which was spectacular. Hong Kong looks stunning at night.

On day 2, I took the two Big Bus routes on Hong Kong Island, only getting off the bus to explore Victoria Peak and Stanley. Doing this gave me a real feel for the island’s layout and geography.

Victoria Peak was stunning. The tram ride up was fantastic. I can't think of many other trams I've been on that have climbed such a steep gradient. The views from Victoria Peak are more than worth the effort and the cost of getting there.

Stanley Harbour and the market were interesting but not that great. It allowed me to experience a more relaxed and laid-back Hong Kong.

Finally, as part of the Big Bus Tour, I took a cruise around the harbour. The cruise was fantastic. I found it very relaxing sitting on a boat for an hour or so, watching the cityscape of Hong Kong drift by.

One highlight of my time in Hong Kong, which was not part of the bus tour, was my visit to the Man Mo Temple. Even though the temple was tiny, it was stunning. I've never seen so much incense being burnt in one place. Another highlight was taking a tram ride across the northern coastline of Hong Kong island.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in Hong Kong once I got over my initial shock. It is an exciting and vibrant city. It has a lot of energy, with many interesting places to explore. It is a place you have to embrace. If you try to tackle Hong Kong without sufficient drive, commitment, and energy, you will not enjoy the place.

Next stop — Hanoi, Vietnam.

I had heard interesting things about Hanoi and was looking forward to exploring the city.

So, why Vietnam? Well, friends kept telling me I should go there and have a look, plus I was intrigued by it because, as a child, I was aware of the country for all the wrong reasons — namely, the war and the Vietnamese Boat People crisis.