24 hours in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is vibrant, densely populated and deeply rooted in culture and tradition. It is a major port and one of the world's financial hubs and cuisine capitals. This autonomous territory and former British Colony lies to the southeast of the Chinese mainland and is composed of three different islands; Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories.
Hong Kong has been a place that I have wanted to visit for well....
.... a very long time!
I simply couldn't make the extremely long-haul flight home from Europe without stopping in Hong Kong
And I fell seriously in love!
Hong Kong never sleeps. It is bustling, exciting and rich in culture. I wish I had longer to explore this majestic city, but with classes having already started back home in Auckland, I only had 24 hours.
So here are some of the things that I got up to in my short but action-packed stay in Hong Kong:
The Mong Kok area in the Western part of the Kowloon Peninsula is one of the most densely populated districts in the world. This area categorised by multi-storey commercial and residential buildings has much to explore in terms of shopping, eating and entertainment. In all honesty, my favourite part about visiting Mong Kok was just the experience of just being swept up in this sea of humanity.
Dumplings are one of those 'on trend' foods at the moments. Hipsters from far and wide scour their cities in search of the best dumpling joints, where these tiny morsels of pure deliciousness are made as close to "authentic" as possible. I am one of those band-wagoning food fanatics, and I have tried my fair share of Dumplings around Auckland - but oh my, I was dumb-founded by the dumplings in Hong Kong. They are so good! My friend Andie showed me her favourite dumpling place and how to eat them properly - I had no idea that I was eating dumplings the wrong way but my life is now forever changed! There is an art to it - it would take me way too long to explain how in this blog post but I would highly recommend learning!
WATCHED 'A SYMPHONY OF LIGHT'
At 8pm every night, more than 40 buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbour light up in a 13 minute display of laser beams and sound. The light show symbolises the diversity and energy of Hong Kong City and holds a Guinness World Record for being the 'World's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show' ... buuuut probably not for energy efficiency. I was awestruck by the light show. It felt like New Year's Eve or something. I can't believe this happens every night.
THE MASS TRANSIT RAILWAY.
Being from teeny little Auckland, our nation's biggest city with a population of around 1.3 million, the idea of being in a city of over 7 million people is surreal. I loved any opportunity to immerse myself into the crowds of people as they went about their day-to-day life in this city where there are around 6300 people crammed into every square kilometer. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is Hong Kong's railway network and the most commonly used transport option. There are over 5 million trips taken on the MTR each weekday, so the trains are packed to say the very least.
Bustling with the handbags, fridge magnets, iPhone T-shirts and human beings, the Ladies Market is a must-do in Hong Kong. Sprawled down about a kilometer Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok, these markets attract bargain hunters from near and far with an extensive range of things such as iPhone cases, souvenirs, fake designer handbags, and watches. Despite its name, men are also welcome to rummage through the market stalls in search of bargains.
I have heard on the news recently that WeetBix, a cardboardy breakfast cereal that is a staple in the Downunder diet has grown in popularity in Asian countries, even sometimes selling for $50 a box! Crazy. For my one breakfast in Hong Kong, I wanted to eat anything but a standard continental breakfast. Instead, I opted for a traditional breakfast of meat, vegetables, a boiled egg and congee.
Causeway Bay (or Tung Lo Wan), is a heavily built-up area between the Wan Chai District and the Eastern District on Hong Kong Island. It is one of the city's major shopping precincts and a hub for international trade. My hotel room overlooked Causeway Bay, and I particularly loved waking up to this cross outside my window.
I CHECKED MY LUGGAGE IN AT THE TRAIN STATION
Like seriously, what the heck! This has to be the best invention in the history of airports. No longer do you have to lug suitcases around all day after checking out of your hotel. In Hong Kong, you can check luggage in at the at train stations. This means that you are free to explore the city with a much lighter load.
THE HONG KONG OBSERVATION WHEEL
My friend Carrie took me to this ferris wheel near the Central Star Ferry Pier. It has some crazy good views Victoria Harbour and the skyscraper studded skyline. A ride lasts 20 minutes and the ferris wheel goes around three times. I know that you are meant to take photos of the view from the ferris wheel, but I'd just bought this selfie stick at the night market and I just had to test it out in the daylight.
THE STAR FERRY
Since 1888, this iconic ferry has run across Victoria Harbour, transporting passengers between Hong Kong and Kowloon Islands. With a fleet of 12 vessels, the ferries run every 10 minutes in both directions.
LUNCH AT THE TIN LUNG HEEN RESTAURANT AT THE RITZ CARLTON
During my stay, I met up with my friend Kevin, who lived in with our family as an international student in Sydney years and years ago. Kevin spoiled me to lunch at the Tin Lung Heen Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the International Commerce Centre. This had to be one of the most incredible places I have ever eaten in my life. We indulged in authentic Cantonese cuisine while laughing about the good old days. This restaurant holds two Michelin stars, and rightfully so, there food was incredible!
On the 100th Floor of the International Commerce Centre, Sky100 is Hong Kong's highest indoor observation deck. It showcases 360 degree panoramic views of the concrete jungle below and the mountainous landscape that the city is nestled amongst.
A STREET FOR EVERYTHING
Hong Kong has conveniently created streets for different types of shopping - from Sneakers Street for a fresh new pair of kicks, to Cat Street for antiques, to Shanghai street for kitchenware. There is even a street dedicated to goldfish; Hong Kong's most popular pet. My favourite street was Flower Market road - so pretty!
THE MOBILE SOFTEE ICECREAM VAN
As the afternoon humidity really started to kick in, Carrie took me to this famous white, red and blue ice-cream van for a soft-serve. We munched away at our ice-cream cones as the van sang sweet music-box melodies.
"First the markets, then the shopping malls - Okay Ella, we get it! Shopping in Hong Kong must be insane". Indeed, it is! I tend to avoid malls when I travel but there are so many world class malls in Hong Kong that I had to check them out. These aren't just shopping centres but experiences in and of themselves.
Although it is technically Taiwanese... bubble tea is pretty much a must in Hong Kong. I'm not sure what it is about this sweet milky beverage that is so satisfying, actually.... I am! It is those squishy pearls in it - they are weirdly delicious. I drank bubble tea like it was water when is was in Hong Kong!
My jam-packed 24 hours gave me a great taste of Hong Kong. This city is full of endless opportunities of things to do, see, eat and enjoy.
It was a small taste that has left me craving more!