HK is a really unique place, a capitalist monument in the middle of a tropical paradise. Lush, green, mountainous islands dot the South China Sea like sleeping animals.
The city itself is the densest city, and therefore human population, on the planet, every inch of available space is used. The roads curve, wind, and climb, like a scaletrix track of over and under carriageways. If you drive for long enough, you’re bound to arrive back to the place you started, that’s what they say.
And of course the view of Hong Kong central is world famous.
There’s a light show every night that includes all of the office buildings.
The living space is all towers, towers everywhere.
Sometimes they’re just two rooms wide. One of our hotels was like that, often the reception is in another building to the tower with the room in it.
The city is really full of all kinds of life.
Lots of people that are into architecture have good instagram profiles on these buildings with the #residensity. Pictures like these:
It’s a place that you really need to spend some time in to understand, soak up the atmosphere, and eat lots of the really nice food. There’s a lot more to this place than the dense city and the abundance of shopping malls.
Even though it was originally China, Hong Kong has really interesting past. There’ll be a history corner about it later I think! Because of this past they speak English, Cantonese, and Mandarin when they do business apparently. You’ll mostly hear Cantonese on the streets though, it’s a fascinating language and possibly one of our favourites for the sounds that it produces. There are nine tones instead of the four of mandarin, and there’s even a tone for mild disappointment. They share this language with the province of Guangdong in China, which they used to be a part of, and in Chinese the language is called Guangdong Hua.
If you try to make the sound that you’d make if you were reading a book say, and someone says something that you agree with and you wanted to make a sound of agreement but also to say hang on, i’ll just finish this bit in my book then i’m listening.
That sound, a kind of mmmm, means the number five.
Oh and people love their phones in HK, there should be a texting lane on the streets!
We stayed in four places in Hong Kong in the end, none of them were particularly big or relaxing but all of them had their charms. The four places were:
Jordan/Yau Ma Tei
This area is truly Hong Kong, it’s a maze of markets, big rise buildings with signs on every level and flags hanging over the street.
You’ll find most of the ‘workers’ of Hong Kong island living here, it’s on the mainland peninsula in a place called Kowloon. We were told that the westerners who live and work on the island call this ‘The Dark Side’ but we like a bit of grit with our city. It’s easier to find an atmosphere of community in this area than in Hong Kong island, and there are food places galore to eat all those Hong Kong favourites.
There’s a really nice park with a swimming pool that all the locals use, and as it was the summer holidays it was always full. We used this accommodation to spend a lot of time exploring Kowloon.
We went to Lamma Island for a bit of a getaway from the bustling city and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
It’s such a nice and small tropical island, with beautiful beaches. You can hike the island from top to bottom in an hour, over the mountains to a fishing village called Sok Kwu Wan.
The village is beautiful and there’s only one street, as far as we could tell, but then there are gang planks all the way out into the bay.
We had the best, cheap seafood dinner and then hiked back in the dusk to the town we were staying in. Even the tiny village had neon lights!
This is the police station for another tiny village on Lamma, they obviously have a sense of humour…
These crazy spiders hang out above your head at all times, i’d rather have them there though!
The only thing about Lamma is there are lots of foreigners who live here and they’ve created their usual bubble of local people trying to cater for their needs, which kind of ruins the island life atmosphere but does mean that you can find cornflakes, cheddar cheese, and dark chocolate digestives. WIN.
There’s also a huge power station on the island, although this made us feel like human ingenuity is pretty incredible sometimes, despite the harmful environmental stuff, they must have thought to themselves: “I’m going to build a power station on this empty tropical island”. Well perhaps anyway.
The local harbour was a beaut. We came here to drink a beer and play cards almost every night.
We popped over to Aberdeen for the afternoon on a ferry to run a few errands. Didn’t know Aberdeen had palm trees, blue sky and sunshine! Interestingly, this was the first place that the British landed and therefore where Hong Kong was founded.
There was a comedy doctors check-up involved…
Another dose of dense city in Hung Hom, which is quite hard to get to relative to everything else, we stayed in the Bridal Tea House Hotel. Because of the name. We used it as a base to explore Hong Kong island a little more.
From here we went and hiked the dragons back ridge.
It’s a really stunning part of the island on the south side where you can forget all about the bustle of the city.
There’s some great views over coastal villages.
We used the time in Hung Hom to explore the city side of Hong Kong island as well. We came across these awesome incense chandeliers!
And ate in the ‘Cooked Food Markets’.
Lantau Island is absolutely stunning, virtually the whole island is national park because in Hong Kong if the land is above a certain height it has to be national park and Lantau is pretty much all over that height. It’s mountainous! We didn’t get to do any proper hiking because we were too burnt out but we did visit the local fishing village of Tai O.
You’re supposed to be able to get a boat trip to go see some pink dolphins, which we tried, but they built an airport in their natural fishing grounds, and they’re now building a bridge to Macau in most of the rest of their habitat so I think they’ve ruined that bit.
It’s a lovely little village though with stilted houses and a local atmosphere.
We also visited Cheung Sha Wan – ‘long sand beach’ in English. There was a crazy rainstorm whilst we were there and the light on the beach was epic and moody.
This was the path to the beach from the place that we were staying.
Writing all this makes us realise how much we did here! Thanks for getting to the end of this one!