My 4-day Hong Kong trip has been intense with a lots of sightseeing, good food but surprisingly little shopping (I’m on a shopping diet). Let me first fill you in with the sightseeing part and my feel of the place.
Hong Kong welcomed me on the first day with … pouring rain! Nonetheless, that didn’t dampen my spirits from looking around. I headed first to the must-see Central district.
I went to the oddly-named PMQ. This is a heritage site with an interesting past. It started life as the first public school to provide western education. Several famous public figures (eg Dr. Sun Yat-sen) have been schooled here. The buildings were later transformed into Police Married Quarters (whence its name). About two years ago, PMQ was transformed yet again to be open to the public as a hip cluster for local design talents and the creative industry. It has become a stage for creative happenings, and to meet arty types in design studios, galleries and shops.
A short stroll away is the Man Mo Temple of the Gods of Literature and War. Ambitious students would come here to pray for success in important examinations. Along the way, I walked into only one shop, Grana, but didn’t buy anything. It wasn’t for the lack of temptation – this fashion label offers all high-quality wardrobe staples an affordable prize. I stayed firm on my shopping diet …
Hong Kong offers quite a few places for hikes and I was lucky with the weather later in my stay. My friend and I climbed the some 1200+ steps up the Twins Peak, and another thousand steps down. I had sore legs for the next 4 days to remind me of my folly
We went out to the other side of the Island, Repulse Bay, to find ourselves in the middle of Hong Kong’s biggest beach festival to kick off the rugby week. We chilled out for the whole afternoon by the beach under the sun, catching a sunburn on point.
After a long night of partying (at a place I will tell you more about in my next post), I opted for the lighter program of a sightseeing walk in Wan Chai, Victoria Park, and Causeway Bay (and its market). These are must-see neighborhoods, each with its quaintness. For example, visit the huge malls of Causeway Bay if you want to experience the sheer density of shopping crowds.
On one nice afternoon, I continued my stroll to the Stanley Promenade in the south. There you will find a small market to shop for souvenirs. For me, it was about enjoying the scenery and delightful weather. I actually preferred the beach along Repulse Bay.
I also ventured out to Lantau Island and climbed (once again) the 268 steps to see the imposing Tian Tan Buddha (also known as the Big Buddha) statue close up. Sitting 34 meters high, it faces north as if to look over the people. I too enjoyed the bonus of a sweeping view of Hong Kong over the hilly landscape and sea. Next to the statue is the Po Lin Monastery a Buddhist sanctuary with colorful and beautiful architectural features.
It’s amazing how much you can see over a long weekend. More than monuments and other landmarks, Hong Kong is really about the buzz, the contrasting sights of traditional and modern, and the palpable energy of the street atmosphere. For example, just a two minute walk from the popular “Time Square” shopping mall, you find an open food market and “street food”. That leads us to the highlight of my next post – Hong Kong for the foodies.