Monday, 20 January 2014

Hong Kong. A holiday from my "holiday" (Part 2. Hong Kong Island)

Here is the second of my two posts covering the few days I spent visiting Hong Kong for the first time. I had intended to just write one but it soon became blatantly apparent that it was turning into "War and Peace" and as much I tried to cut the photos down to just "slightly excessive", it soon became obvious that it would have to be split across two.

If you enjoyed my post on Kowloon,  then I hope you will enjoy this one where we crossed over the causeway onto Hong Kong Island. This in fact was easier said that done, as Friday evening at 7pm was of course the worse time of the week to get a taxi! The hotel itself wasn't even able to order us one, so we stood on Nathan road watching taxi after taxi passing by with the dozen that did stop refusing to cross onto the island from the mainland! Eventually we found one that would take via the far tunnel and at extra expense and we finally started the next part of our Hong Kong adventure....

Hong Kong Island

We stayed at the Crown Plaza, Leighton Rd, Causeway Bay, overlooking Happy Valley Racecourse. Certainly more up market than the last hotel. I could get used to this luxury, although the sliding door that reveals a window onto the shower was an interesting extra!! That evening we met up with a friend of hubbys who has lived there for the last 15 years. We spent a rather drink hazed evening in a "British" pub in Wan Chai, before collapsing back into our more than comfy hotel bed.

View from hotel suite on 24th floor over Happy Valley 

Day 3.
This saw us up bright and early. I let hubby sort the itinery for the next few days as he had now finished his business and was able to relax. We took a tram (another first for me) from Causeway Bay along Queensway, Des Voeux over to the Sheung Wan in the North West and The Mid-Levels. We explored Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street) home to antique and curio shops. We meandered around the steep windy roads of this area,walking up the steps and slopes, past more tourist stalls, and antique shops, I could of spent a fortune. We then visited Man Mo Temple. This temple was again full of eye watering smoke from the burning of the incense coils. This 19th century temple is one of the oldest and most popular in Hong Kong. Here worshippers pray for good health and good school results for their children. Its dedicated to both Man Cheong, a 3rd century BC chinese statesman, now worshipped as the god of literature and also to Kwan Tai a Han dynasty soldier who is the god of war.

3 modes of transport

Man Mo Temple

We carried on exploring through the trendy small cafes and restaurants of Soho, then onto Lan Kwai Fong passing Governmental buildings before lunching at Citibank Plaza, overlooked by the Bank Of China Tower and the other financial buildings (a great photo opportunity)

After lunch we entered the green oasis of Hong Kong Park, another great opportunity here and in the vicinity to take photos of Hong Kongs sky rise architecture. We visited the Tea museum, the Flagstaff House of Museum Tea Ware, in the grounds of the Park. This building is the oldest Western building still its original place left in Hong Kong (another "Murray House" originally built in 1848 as officers quarters and which once stood close by on the spot where the Bank of China Tower now stands, was relocated stone by stone between 1982 - 2001 to Stanley Bay Beach - which we saw on Sunday)

Koala buildings from HK Park
The Olympic Square in HK Park.... its round?!?!?
Flagstaff House of Musuem Tea Ware. Oldest remaining Western building in its original situ.

From Hong Kong Park we intended to take the Peak Tram up to the Victoria Peak but, when we arrived the queues were enormous, with waits of well over an hour so we walked back down to the front to catch the famous Star Ferry across to Kowloon. The Star Ferry was founded in 1888. In 1966 there was a riot where vehicles were stoned and set alight after the ferrys fare was proposed to increase by 5 cents. Taking the ferry was a slightly harder task than expected as hubby followed the route he knew from the past, only to discover of course that the waterfront had moved about a km since his last visit and the terminus was no longer where it used to be!! Anyway after following the signs we arrived and took the Star Ferry over to Kowloon, for hubby to see the Avenue of Stars and take photos of the harbour.

The Star Ferry Terminus in its new location!

Back to the hotel via the MTR for a few drinks and a quick rest before crossing back over onto Kowloon again to view the light show, The Symphony of Lights. My camera really is not good with night shops but I did manage to get a short video and hubbys photos are much clearer.

Day 4.
We rose really early and managed to beat the queues and took the Peak Tram onto the Victoria Peak. It was slightly hazy unfortunately and we could hardly see over to Kowloon but it still was a great view and experience. Clearly a popular early morning walk for the expat locals as the the coffee shops were full of young families, dog walkers and runners... who would run up that mountain!!! It is possible to complete a number of walks around the Peak also but we gave them a miss on this visit. Back down on the tram, marveling at the views and the steep track down as we went.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around Wan Chai and Admiralty viewing the markets, watching butchers chopping joints of meat on wooden blocks along the street and fishmongers taking deliveries of live fish. I know Singapore has wet markets but somehow its just not the same as these street markets. I could happily spend hours walking amongst them choosing what to eat that night. We passed briefly by Hung Shing Temple but didn't go in and investigate this one any further.

Live turtle anyone?
Look closely at what these all are, and the colours.........

Hung Shing Temple
In the afternoon we again met up with hubbys friend who to my delight took us on a bus south, passing through the interestingly named Repulse Bay (home to some of Hong Kongs richest residents) over to Stanley Beach. I didn't know anywhere like this existed in Hong Kong - what a delight. We were again lucky that it was winter (although saying that I only wore a t-shirt) as it was relatively quite, Summertime it is apparently packed. We could have been anywhere, It felt like the south of France or Italy. We walked passed Murray House and visited the Tin Hau Temple with its skin of the last tiger in Hong Kong on display!! along the seafront of Stanley Beach and through the famous Stanley street market, again selling the usual tourist trinkets and walking around the peninsular into another cove. Hubbys friend is a geologist, specializing in slopes, of which there are lots in Hong Kong, unlike Singapore where they have all be demolished to extend the island, so we had various geological slope lessons :)

Last tiger in HK, killed by a local policeman
Inside Tin Ha Temple
Murray House built in 1848 and relocated in1982, reopened in 2001

Day 5. A lazy morning wandering around the shops of Causeway Bay, some of which were very upmarket, before flying back to Singapore. NB, there was excellent food served at the airport!!

Hong Kong and Kowloon are vibrant, manic, and interesting, a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting, and which we only scratched the tip of however, I have to say it was good to return home to Singapore!

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