Tuesday, October 13, 2009

hong kong!

We left for Hong Kong late Friday evening and arrived just after 11pm. Word to the wise if you arrive somewhere close to midnight- keep an eye on your cab driver! Ours literally fell asleep while in the tunnel to Hong Kong Island!! Luckily I spotted her nodding off in the rearview mirror so we kept her awake with incessant questions until we arrived at our hotel. Thanks to Cloris’ recommendation we chose to stay at the Shangri La Island and found it to be both beautiful and luxurious, even by Hong Kong standards …which are pretty high.

We set off early Saturday morning for a city tour in hopes of catching some of the top sights and to get our bearings. Our first stop was Man Mo Temple, a Taoist temple built in the 19th century. It was under a major renovation but even with dodging the wet paint it was still fascinating. Our guide was obviously a Taoist and he gave us a great glimpse into the religion.

Our next stop was Victoria Peak. After taking the world’s steepest tram up we got to enjoy amazing views of the harbor...

Next up was Aberdeen Fishing Village where we took a short boat ride on a sampan. Aberdeen is one of the few surviving fishing villages in Hong Kong. There are still older generations of the Hoklo ethnic group living in the village on their junks (boats) still fishing and laboring as their ancestors did. Our guide said they refer to them as the last of the boat people because once this generation passes this tradition will die with them.

Afterwards we drove through the pricey neighborhood of Repulse Bay and around Deep Water Lookout on our way to Stanley Market. We did a little shopping and then made our way back to the hotel.

We had a late lunch where we enjoyed some traditional and extremely spicy Chinese fare before heading up to freshen up after a long and hot day.

We took the Star Ferry over to the Kowloon side to enjoy the laser light show that night. First, let me say that Hong Kong’s skyline is amazing and at night it only gets better. The show itself was not that spectacular but it’s still incredibly impressive to have 40 skyscrapers participating in a choreographed light show so I’m glad we saw it.

We walked down to the ladies’ night market afterward but none of us where in the mood for knockoffs so after a few blocks we veered off, found some dinner and eventually made our way back to the island.

We had planned to go to see the Big Buddha on Sunday but since we awoke to rain and an overcast sky we decided to go to the Wong Tai Sin temple and Hong Kong History Museum instead. Of course by the time we got to the temple the sun was shining. But, we had made our choice and there was no way to fit the 3 hour trek back and forth to the Buddha at that point. I guess it is always good to leave behind an excuse to come back.

The temple was extremely busy and we witnessed what I likened to “fast food religion”. They had rows and rows of railing to handle the crowds and it seemed that people did not have enough time to do much more than speed pray as we were herded through the different temples. The Taoist burn incense sticks for each prayer in the hope that the scent will reach the heavens. A lot of people and a lot of prayers means a lot of incense…there were literally times I could not breath and we were outside!

We had a quick lunch over before heading back to check out of the hotel. We ended our day with a trip to the history museum which I highly recommend, especially if you’re like us and didn’t do any research on the history of Hong Kong before coming ;)

We had dinner at the airport before having to part ways…us back to Cebu and Paul setting of on his odyssey back to Atlanta.

Saying goodbye was the only bad part of our trip. Hong Kong is a beautiful city. It is modern and green and has by far the easiest train system we’ve ever encountered! Being able to navigate a new city with ease really makes such a difference when you’re there for such a short period of time.

We had a great time and hope Paul did too as he ended his Asian vacation. This weekend we’re on our way to Manila for the last week of the audit.

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