Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hong Kong

This was my second time to visit Hong Kong. The first time was in 1997 for the handover to China. It was in the middle of summer, and I hated the place. Hot and humid to the extreme. And the only relief from that was from torrential buckets of rain. The only highlight was that I flew on a FedEx plane and got to ride in the cockpit for the landing at the old downtown airport. Nevertheless, I decided to return for a 24 hour layover on the way to the Philippines.

This time, it was much, much better. The weather was excellent, and I had a plan of attack. After arriving on Saturday night we headed to our guest house at Chungking Mansions. The rooms there are super small, and not always the most tidy of places. But the location is excellent, and the price is cheap. After taking a brief walk about, we decided to rest up for a busy Sunday.

On Sunday we did the quick 1-day tour of Hong Kong. Walking to the ferry terminal; taking the Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island; checking out the Mid-levels, and their wonderful escalator; eating at a local Chinese restaurant; riding the tram up to The Peak; doing some sidewalk shopping in the street markets; eating some Chinese street food. And then finally, heading back to the airport for our flight to the Philippines.

After all of that, it makes me wonder what city I actually visited back in 1997. I don't remember the restaurants, the sites, the vibrancy of the city. I'll chalk it up to the bad weather. All in all, Hong Kong definitely moved up on my list of favorite cities. I'd still never go back in the summer though.

Tip: Never, ever exchange money at the airport. The rates are terrible and the guest houses will be able to exchange your major currencies (i.e. don't bring Won).

The goldfish market

Part of the Mid-levels escalator system

The tram to The Peak

The view from Victoria Peak

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