Of all the places I’ve been to, Hong Kong is by far my number one destination. I fell in love with this place – the atmosphere, the culture and the people. I immediately felt like I could live there. From a fishing village to a bustling metropolis, Hong Kong totally stole my heart.
Hong Kong used to be a British colony and so it’s easy to spot the British influence there. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China (SAR), which means it has its own economy and government and sets its own rules and regulations. Hong Kongers also have their very own currency – HK dollar. Although people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, it’s possible to communicate in English and Mandarin as well. English is not as widely spoken as one might assume and I generally used Mandarin most of the time. I’ve never had problems communicating with people and most of the signs around the city are in both English and Chinese. Taking a subway is not a problem as well since, upon arrival, the name of the station is read by a speaker in Cantonese, Chinese and English. Transport and getting around is very easy and I never got lost. I was mainly reliant on public transportation as it’s cheap, convenient and quick. I would definitely recommend getting an Octopus card on arrival as it allows you to use all means of public transportation. If there is any money left on the card and you want to leave HK, you can easily claim your unused money back at any counter at a metro station.
Hong Kong has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing. On my first day, I went to Victoria Peak and saw a breathtaking Hong Kong panorama with all the skyscrapers. It is possible to arrive at Victoria Peak by a train that will take you up to the Peak and you can also take a train back down. While on the Peak, apart from marvelling at awe-inspiring views, you can also go to one of the museums, shop or eat at one of many exquisite restaurants. I spent a couple of hours on the Peak and after that I made my way to catch the Star Ferry since I really wanted to see the Symphony of Lights – a night show with music and illuminated skyscrapers. I watched the show from a boat and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences I had in HK!
Views from Victoria Peak
Sunset over the harbour
Star Ferry Tour- I made this photo during the show:)
To get some insight into HK’s history, on my second day, I took part in a free, guided sightseeing tour that was organised and led by locals. I can wholeheartedly recommend taking part in these trips as they are extremely interesting and informative. I visited Final Court of Appeal, HSBC building, BOC Building, St John Cathedral, former French mission building, Central Government Complex, PLA building, City Hall, Second World War Memorial. The guide explained the rivalry between mainland China and Hong Kong and I got to know that all the buildings in Hong Kong are built according to the feng shui philosophical system.
I then headed to Wong Tai Sin Temple. Wong Tai Sin Temple is known as the place where all your wishes can come true. It is famous for fortune-telling. The ritual is to take incense sticks, light them and pray with them. There is a famous saying associated with the temple: 有求必應, which literally means “What you ask for is what you will get”. So, I got myself 10 incense sticks and made 10 wishes! Hopefully, at least one will come true!
As the evening slowly approached, I made my way to Tsim Tsha Promenade to stroll around and admire all the amazing views. After that, I went to Temple Night Street Market. It’s one of the most popular open-air markets in Hong Kong and the place where you can get anything from antiques to clothes through electrical goods. Just before the main entrance, there are loads of restaurants, where I tried some Hong Kong fried dumplings and other snacks!
Since I was travelling to Macau on my third day (check out my post about it!), I did not have much time left in HK. I decided to explore the Causeway Bay area around my hostel, which is cluttered with shopping malls and bars, try traditional Hong Kong dim sum and wander around quaint alleyways in nearby Soho, Times Square and Lan Kwai Fong – popular districts, especially among expats, famous for a wide variety of restaurants, bars and clubs.