Monday, January 7, 2013

Hong Kong (the first time)

Happy new year to my awesome readers!! Hope 2013 is treating you all well so far. 

With a bit of a lull on the adventure front predicted while I wrap up my studies (finally) and get stuck into my volunteer interviewer position which I'm very excited to be starting this week, I thought I'd take this time to gather all my old, old, old travel updates together from before I started blogging so I have them all in the one spot. Luckily, since I haven't deleted any sent emails for the last...well ever really, this is proving easier than I first expected (hurray for copy & paste).

Starting off, my very first overseas trip which I was very busily preparing for at this time 6 years ago (eep!), Hong Kong!

22-26 Feb 2007

Greetings all. Just left Hong Kong after my 4 day stay on the way to China and I have to say, it was fantastic. The city is really nice, clean, easy to navigate and the whole place lights up and comes alive at night which is just amazing. I stayed in a guesthouse in Kowloon where the room was very, very tiny but quiet and comfortable (and most importantly, cheap!).

My first full day there I caught a ferry to the beautiful nearby island of Lantau. Immediately on leaving the ferry I was greeted by the sight of hundreds of bikes parked together. Took a bus along a steep windy road (which was clearly not designed with buses in mind) up into the mountains to Nong Ping which houses the Po Lin monastary (lots of beautiful architecture, incense burning, monks etc, very atmospheric) and giant Buddha which you have to climb 260 steps to reach but its well worth the climb as the statue really is huge and the views are spectacular. Spent the rest of the afternoon exploring a few areas on Hong Kong island and rode the 800m long escalator through the Soho district (which you would really understand if you saw how steep the streets are), then headed back to Kowloon. Visited the Avenue of Stars which is a Walk of Fame for Cantonese cinema on the waterfront. Found stars for Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. The city then puts on a very impressive light show on all the skyscrapers across Victoria Harbour.

The next day travelled to Sha Tin and climbed another 400 steps, these through a bamboo grove and lined with golden Buddha statues (and monkeys allegedly but I didn’t spot any) to the 10 000 Buddha Monastery which was really beautiful as the main temple is filled with over 12 000 tiny gold Buddhas and there were pagodas, statues and shrines everywhere. Next visited the Tsuen Lung Wishing tree and got to have a go at lighting incense and making a few wishes of my own by writing them on scrolls which are then hung on a wall next to the tree. Also visited some interesting street markets and the Man Mo temple in Tai Po.

ok I look a bit weird in this was the first time I tried using the timer on my camera :P
Next day I took the historic Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour then stumbled across the Stanley Markets accidentally after I missed my bus stop. Woohoo because the markets were great and I got to see a dragon dance being performed in front of a roast pig to celebrate Chinese New Year so that was a pretty lucky mistake. After a good long wander through the labyrinth of tiny shops, I backtracked to my original destination of Repulse Bay and added 12 days to my life by making a couple passes over the Bridge of Longevity at a fascinating shrine dedicated to assorted deities for protection, marriage, fortune etc., all covered in bright tile mosaics and perched on the edge of the beach. Back in the city I took a very steep tram ride up to Victoria Peak and enjoyed a great view of the city from the top of the Peak Tower. Went for a walk on a circuit of the summit before returning to the tower to see more of Hong Kong lit up at night, including a lantern festival on the harbour. Spent a little while walking around the city at night one more time before returning to my room to pack.

Checked out the next day and headed to the China ferry terminal via Kowloon Park to await my ferry into Zhuhai. Really great start to my trip and I can't wait to return.

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