I've spent the past ten days in Hong Kong on holiday, here is my day to day account of what I did. Hong Kong used to be owned by the British but in 1997 we gave it back to China. The British influence is still clear from the predominant use of the English language, road signs, food and the economy.
(Hong Kong at Night- click any picture to enlarge)
Day 1 - Travel
The first day was long, we had two flights to catch, one to Dubai then on to Hong Kong. Fortunately both flights were on time and were as comfy as you can expect from economy class. I was quite impressed with the Emirates flights especially how they had a camera on the front and below the plane so that you could see where you were going.
We got into Hong Kong about 10pm at night where we got a train to the central district then a taxi to our hotel, all was very efficient and easy though it helped everything being in English.
Day 2 - Exploring / Shopping
We spent most of the day walking around shopping centres and taking in the sites of the Central District, Wanchai and Causeway Bay. Laura and myself started a competition to see how many fat Chinese people we could spot. It was hard and often a fat person from behind ended up being an American. We managed to just get into double figures, we spotted 10 times that number in the same time for American and European fatties. It's not all gloom though there are a significant number of McDonald's, KFC's and Starbucks slowly fattening up the Chinese population.
(In Time Square these people hadn't realised what had crept up behind them)
(A tram in front of the very unique head quarters of the worlds local bank. The building was designed by Sir Normal Foster)
Day 3 - Visited Peak
To get to the peak there is a tram ride that takes about five minutes. From the top you have views to the North of Hong Kong, Kowloon and in the far distance China. To the south you can see the smaller towns of Stanley and Aberdeen with the ocean beyond.
(This is the view from the peak- our hotel is somewhere on the bottom right. Hong Kong is in the foreground with Kowloon beyond the water.)
(The view from the peak at night.)
Day 4 - Visited the Big Buddha and the Fishing Village of Tai O
(The Buddha has a Swastika on it's chest though I do not think this is a relation to the Nazi's.)
(These Mobile Phone masts next to the Buddha ensure the Monks are never disconnected from their 3G Internet.)
After visiting the Buddha we took the bus to the fishing village Tai O. It was interesting to see a different side to Hong Kong which was not all wealthy high rise. Many of the houses are built on stilts along the estuary. There was a market here too though the village was lacking a Starbucks.
(We took a boat ride up here and to see Dolphins in the sea.)
(The people in Tai O live in these houses, some do not have running water.)
Day 5 - Visited Kowloon and Temple Street Night Market.
Kowloon is a boat ride across from the main island, one of the main attractions is a night market.
(In Hong Kong they do not have the strict rules for signs like we do in the UK.)
(I have no idea what these are but they look interesting.)
Day 6 - Grand Prix and Boat Ride to see the Festival of Lights
Day 6 was all about seeing Lewis Hamilton win the Formula 1 championship, unfortunately it didn't happen after he skidded off the track into gravel when trying to pit. We spent most of the day in a sports bar drinking but come early evening we headed to the harbour for a boat trip around the bay to see the Festival of Lights.
Every evening at 8pm for about 15mins various building in Hong Kong and Kowloon light up and flash to some Chinese music. The show is fascinating to watch and has won various world records.
(Buildings change colour and the sky is full of lights and lasers.)
We watched the show from a boat making it impossible to take pictures, I wouldn't recommend it.
Day 7 - Disney
On the seventh day we visited the magic place of Hong Kong Disney World. It's not as big as its American or European counterparts but we still had a great day. Fortunately it was not very busy so we did not have to wait more than a few minutes for any of the attractions.
(Even the train to Disney was themed.)
Disney was clearly aimed at Children though the rides and attractions were still good fun. I was looking forward to having a photo with a Johnny Depp look alike but we could only find Mickey and Goofy.
(Had Disney not brought Pixar then Disney World would have been a very empty place).
In places I felt they had diluted some of the Disney brands a little too much to an extent that made you cringe but on a whole it wasn't too bad.
(The toilets in the future land were for space men and disabled people only, I managed to blag the latter.)
Another thing that got my attention was all the staff having English names, it didn't seem too bad at first but when you see all these Chinese people with 'Kenneth', 'Keith' and 'Randy' name badges then you wish they had just kept their original names.
(I'm just faking here - Disney wasn't that bad.)
If you ever visit Disney in Hong Kong I recommend you don't eat any of the food, for lunch Laura and myself had a Burger and Fried Chicken, both were inedible. In the evening we tried what should have been Chinese food, again it was inedible. Otherwise Disney was a great day out.
Day 8 - Beach, Stanley and Lights
The sun was out on Day 8, it had been hot the other days but mainly cloudy. We were lucky it didn't rain considering we were in between two typhoons, one battering Vietnam and the other Taiwan and the Chinese main land. We took this opportunity to go to the beach and to visit the town of Stanley where we had lunch and visited yet another market.
(In China respect is given in proportion to the size of your Digital SLR Camera - everyone we saw carried one.)
In the evening we went back to Kowloon to watch the Festival of Lights, it was here I managed to capture the photo below. It's quite spectacular to watch and there are more photos on my Flickr account.
(The Hong Kong Skyline is one of the best in the world.)
Day 9 - Relaxation
We were tired from our adventures over the past 8 days so decided to relax around the pool. In the evening we had a nice meal in an Argentinian restaurant.
(I did some light philosophical reading around the pool. Much love to the FSM.)
Day 10- Cinema and travel home
We had to check out of the hotel at 12pm and our flight was not until 12am. In Hong Kong you can check your baggage in at the central train station, it will then find its way to the airport and onto your plane. This gave us the day baggage free to carry on our adventure, we decided however to go to the cinema, twice. Luckily the films were in English with Chinese subtitles. We finally took off just after midnight on our way to Dubai.
We were welcomed into Dubai airport with the 5am prayer. We had about three hours to kill and fortunately the airport is great but my only complaint is the lack of sinks in the toilets. I went to take a leak then naturally to wash my hands however the two sinks were crowded by Muslims insistent on washing their faces 50 times in 20 different ways each taking two minutes. If your going to cater for such people build some more sinks!
When landing back in the UK from looking at the forward camera I was worried the pilot might skid into the gravel, fortunately his tyres still had grip.
Overall we had an amazing time in Hong Kong and I would recommend it if you love big, busy, crowded, high rise cities and want to see some Chinese culture without having to learn the language.
*All pictures have been taken by either Laura or Myself view the whole set on Flickr.