Having fun in Hong Kong!

China was fun, but Scott and I were ready to leave it by the end of our trip. But first, we visited Hong Kong for 5 days! Even though Hong Kong is “legally” a part of China, it sure didn’t feel like it. Being a former British Colony, Hong Kong is very clean, practically everyone speaks perfect english and tourists are highly catered to. Also, you see these signs everywhere!
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We really enjoyed all that Hong Kong had to offer. Also, Scott was thrilled to get access to New York Times and Facebook back.

Unlike a lot of places in China, getting in and around Hong Kong was beyond easy. We ate a delicious dinner at the executive lounge in Beijing (ahh the perks of Platinum status) before our 3 hour flight to Hong Kong. Once we arrived, we jumped on an express train from the airport that takes you straight into town in 24 minutes. As soon as we walked off the train at Hong Kong’s main station we saw our hotel’s free shuttle. So Easy. Too easy! After hopping on random buses in China and hoping/praying that the bus would go in the direction we wanted it to go because we couldn’t really understand any signage, this was a real treat.

Accommodations in Hong Kong can be very expensive, especially if you want to stay on Hong Kong Island, where all the action and attractions are. So I used my hotel points for a free stay at a Courtyard Marriott just along the waterfront. Here is a view from our room:
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Being the cheap flashpackers that we are, we gorged on their happy hours in the evening and amazing breakfast buffets every morning (ahh the perks of Marriott gold status). I particularly took advantage of the omelette chef and this amazing thing:
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If anyone can help me find this in the US, I want it. I also want an omelette chef and recognize the difficulties there, so I will just settle for the pancake making machine.

Hong Kong is an amazing city. Scott noted that this was the closest he felt to being in New York City again, only with a better public transportation system.
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In fact, Scott thinks all of China has about 3 times a better public transportation system than New York and about a 70 times better system than Los Angeles.

We spent hours wandering around town observing the people and great architecture, but we planned a lot of activities as well during our short stay there. One day we took the famous Star Ferry across the Victoria harbour. By doing so, you can get views of the stunning Hong Kong skyline.
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Once crossing the harbour onto Kowloon, we were greeted by this!
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This giant inflatable rubber ducky is a travelling art installation by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. It has been in Auckland, San Paolo and currently is in Pittsburgh!
Rubber Ducky Installation Website

We then continued along the port walkway and came across the avenue of the stars.
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Some of you may know this, but I am a Kung Fu movie fan. My awesome uncle would visit us and bring classics like 3 Evil Masters and I became a big fan. I saw a few names that I had to take pictures with:
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And of course, there is the famous Bruce Lee statue. I tried to match his pose but failed miserably. I blame it on the dress?
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Scott’s photo turned out much better:
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It was 85 degrees in the morning and by the late afternoon a sudden thunderstorm came in! It was insane. We took advantage of the bad weather and went to the Ladies Market. No, it is not the red light district. It is the famous street market where ladies shop to get clothes, purses, shoes, etc. We scored some great deals on purses and….
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Yesssss, finally I found my Casio calculator watch!!!

Next to the ladies market is sneaker row where you can find the funkiest shoes known to man. Scott was on a mission to find a pair of shoes that he had been looking for since 2009. All I heard for years was “red snakeskin Adidas” and I was certain that these shoes were a myth. But after visiting about 20 different shoe stores, it turns out I was wrong:
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Apparently the store imported these shoes from Japan because that is the only place you can buy them. Scott was beyond thrilled.

I also got a new pair of kicks:
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Hong Kong is a shopaholic’s dream. I already decided that for my 40th birthday I am going back to Hong Kong to enjoy it the right way, by just blowing money like there is no tomorrow and enjoying life. Who’s with me? Erica Sin you have no choice, we should start saving for this trip now….

But aside from shopping, Hong Kong is also known for great food, especially dim sum. We learned of a dim sum place that received a Michelin star rating but the prices were cheap. Turns out Tim Ho Wan was located in a Metro station and you would never be able to find it easily because there is no English signage. The large crowds waiting for a seat gives the place away.
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The food was delicious!

Scott and I spent a few days just getting lost around the city. One day we ended up finding ourselves in a botanical garden and zoo, right in the middle of a bunch of highways that intersect in a sea of skyscrapers. Very random.
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Hong Kong has the longest escalator system in the world. This system is called the Mid Levels Escalators and of course I had to make a point to ride it. I think it is called Mid Levels because it pretty much goes up to the middle level streets of the large mountain that is directly behind Hong Kong’s skyline. People use the system in their daily commute to work. They go up/down the steep hills of Hong Kong and get off the escalator when they have reached the street they live or work on. There are tons of bars and restaurants nearby so people go bar hopping along the escalators as well. It is a pretty cool concept!
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At the top of the mountain, Victoria Peak, you will find the former homes of rich British Colonists. We took a very old cable car to get up to the top. You also should get the best 360 view of the islands from the top. Views like this:
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But it was so foggy that we saw this:
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Still, riding the cable car was a fun experience considering this mode of transportation has been around since 1888 (and obviously upgraded many times since then).
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There was one cool thing that we didn’t get to do: Horseracing. Hong Kong has one of the coolest looking tracks in the world because it is surrounded by skyscrapers. It also is a very popular thing to do amongst locals. Unfortunately races are only on Wednesdays so I never got to participate. But we drove by the track on our way to Oceanpark and it looked really cool. If you are in Hong Kong on a Wednesday I recommend going.
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What is Oceanpark you ask??? Well, sadly enough it is a big reason why I wanted to visit Hong Kong. Being from Southern California I have had my fair share of theme parks. So going to a theme park in a different country was a small travel goal of mine. We chose Oceanpark over Hong Kong Disney because we had heard better things about this park. The “theme” of the park is connecting humans with nature…and throw in a few roller coasters for fun =)
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We took a quick bus to the theme park and arrived 15 minutes before it opened. We then found out that the theme park is divided into two sections due to a large mountain in the middle. So we started the day on the other side of the park in an effort to avoid lines. In order to get there, we had to take a…
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Finally! My first cable car experience in Asia! It was about time. Also, it was the best cable car experience. Look at these views:
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A new roller coaster in LA would have a 2 hour wait. Here, we walked right on to their new ride, Hair Raiser (Erica close your eyes for this photo)
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We didn’t have to wait in line for most rides and often we would just hop on the ride again for a few more times. It was a lot of fun!

We then moved on to explore the aquariums and exhibits that the park had to offer. We saw penguins
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Sea Lions and a Walrus
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Cool birds
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Funny looking fish

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Scott’s worst nightmare, a giant rat (look to the top right under the tree)
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The world’s strongest beetle! This thing can lift 850 times its own body weight
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A very cool jellyfish exhibit:
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And best of all, Dolphins! They had a breeding base and we were able to watch them eat, train and play (from afar)
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Oceanpark was a great way to end our Hong Kong trip, but we still had a few more things to do. We had to see the skyline one more time. We said goodbye to our fun friend
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And watched the “World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” along the iconic skyline. It seems a little dated but was fun to watch, many of the city’s sky scrapers participate.
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The next day we left for Amman, Jordan and I must end with another fact why Hong Kong is so cool: You can check your luggage into your flight at the train station to spend more time in the city.
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Amazing!!!

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2 responses to “Having fun in Hong Kong!”

  1. Nancy Everson says :

    Seeing how great you two look, I don’t know why I spend so much time worrying. i am so glad that you are enjoying your trip of a lifetime. LOTS and LOTS of LOVE!

  2. Kamalakannan Sankaran says :

    Hi Scott,

    I owe you a big thanks, wonder why!?

    I happen to be frequenting Shanghai the last couple of months on business and one of the week ends, while trying to browse through the list of books kept for guests in the hotel, many of which were not in English, I stumbled upon one of my evergreen favorites, “Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” !!!

    It looks like you had donated it, as your handwritten note on the inside cover says. Helped me productively spend many hours in this trip, thanks.

    It is also possible that you might have done this in Vietnam, not in Shanghai, because the book also carries a stamp that has a book trader’s address: Randys Book Exchange, Cam Nam Island, Hoi An, Vietnam.

    Anyway, good luck to you and keep traveling!

    Kamal

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