Turning touristy in Hong Kong

I should have bought a shirt. You know, the one with the “I <heart> HK.” I should have gone years ago but Hong Kong’s reputation for being a shopping mecca discouraged me. (I’m not really big on shopping. I’ll spend hours inside a mall because I’m looking for something in particular not because I’m just hoping to find something that catches my eye. So, I always thought, what else was I going to do in Hong Kong?)

Victoria Harbor...

The Hong Kong skyline from the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. I couldn’t get enough of this view.

Turns out–hello, ignorant tourist– that there are a lot of other things to do in Hong Kong besides shopping: gawking at the lights show in Victoria Harbour, going up the Peak to gawk at the Hong Kong skyline some more, walking along the Avenue of the Stars, taking the Star Ferry, going to Disneyland, eating dimsum, pork buns and egg tarts, going to a night market, going to a neighborhood flea market, going to a temple, taking the Star Ferry all over again, and just going around the narrow neon-lit streets. Mostly touristy things I know, but I still enjoyed every minute of it.

I was a tourist in Hong Kong. An enamored tourist. (Never did care much on distinguishing between being a traveler and a tourist, or between going off the beaten track or getting lured to the touristy places; what has to matter is how open you are to the possibility of discovering something new wherever you are. Right?) And there are a lot of reasons to get captivated by this former British colony–from towering, blinking buildings to charming, hip neighborhoods (looking at you, Shueng Wan), from iconic shipping vessels (did I mention the cross-harbor ferries?) to efficient railway system (you know I’ll make a separate post filled with photos just for it), from the old lady with the big smile and her calculator selling vintage posters to the brisk and stern wait staff (who tells you bye-bye because you’re taking too long to get up from your chair, hah!). There’s so much to love about Hong Kong. I can’t wait to go back and see more of it.

Below are the most touristy spots we went to in the span of four days.

A cold Hong Kong morning

After taking shameless amounts of pictures of the brilliant Hong Kong island skyline over Victoria Harbour the night before, we were back early in the morning to gaze at it some more…

Avenue of the Stars

…And we ended up walking toward the Avenue of the Stars, which is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, except the latter doesn’t have this:

No sighting of Tony Leung in Chungking Mansions, so his hands will do

No sighting of Tony Leung in Chungking Mansions, so his hands will do

Statue of Bruce Lee

And the Hollywood Walk of Fame also doesn’t have this: a fantastic statue of Bruce Lee! Somebody even left a flower on the foot of the statue.

Bruce Lee statue with baby!

So many people were having their picture taken with the Bruce Lee statue; this one was the cutest!

skyline_withjunk

A lot of shipping vessels cross Victoria Harbour: This junk started crossing just before the lights show

skyline-cruise

Apart from small boats and ferries, big cruise ships pass through the harbour as well

Star Ferry

I’m all for taking trains but to cross Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and back, the Star Ferry, a passenger ship which started back in 1888, is a better alternative when you want a view. It’s cheaper too! At HKD2.5 for the upper deck you get a great view of the skyscraper-dotted coastline. Try riding it in the evening right before the light show for an even more scenic ride.

Couldn’t get enough of the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour so we went up the Peak to see it from a different angle. While you can hike it, taking the tram is an experience as well…(From the Central Star Ferry pier, you can take Bus 15C to take the Peak Tram; just expect a long queue.)

skyline-fromthepeak

skyline-fromthepeak3

The area of the Peak is supposedly the neighborhood of the ultra-wealthy in Hong Kong… so mansions like the red house at the bottom right of the photo are normally part of the view from the Peak.

To satisfy childhood dreams, P and I also went to Disneyland. We got there just in time to see the parade, and all those years of watching the Disney TV movies and the Magical World of Disney in the 1980’s came back as soon as I saw Mickey Mouse waving to the crowd.Β  The parade was fun; I felt like a kid again standing there in awe of Mickey and the rest of the Disney posse. Unfortunately, after a couple of hours wandering around the theme park, I remembered that I’m really not a theme park kind of girl anymore or maybe the long lines to all the rides made me think that.

Years of watching Disney..

Hello, Disney castle

Lights at Toy Story Land

Apparently not satisfied with all the lights from the Hong Kong skyline or the neon lights blinking along every street, when we got to Toy Story Land, my camera alsoΒ  went to the cute lights

What I love best about Hong Kong (my feet would beg to disagree though) was just walking around its streets. There’s just a great energy about it–purposeful and little frenetic at the same time. Even Spider-Man couldn’t stay away.

Street corner

We spent one night looking for Temple Street Night Market. We got a bit lost along the way but the lit-up street corners were a welcome distraction

Narrow streets

You can’t get anymore touristy than staying in Tsim Sha Tsui (which is where we stayed), but I liked strolling down its narrow streets and smelling all the wonderful street food being grilled

haiphong

Haiphong Road corner Lock Road

Spider-Man walking

Look who also likes to take a stroll in Haiphong Road in TST?

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13 thoughts on “Turning touristy in Hong Kong

    • Hmm still debating whether to post about the food cause I didn’t really get to try a lot of the local food 😦 I did get to try the famous tim ho wan baked pork buns, but we’ll see. Next HK post about Sheung Wan neighborhood.

  1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed yourself!

    Wow, those are great pictures – I read about the view from Victoria Harbour but these pictures give a real flavour of the place. I’d love to be there in person just to soak up the views. I love the street pictures a lot and totally understand what you mean when you write “lit-up street corners were a welcome distraction.” There’s just so much life and it makes being out fun.

    I look forward to your next post!

    • Hi Jason, can I just tell you, I failed to get copies of any of the movies I wanted (based on your brilliant reviews of course) at the HMVs in Hong Kong. No The Wolf Children, Cure, The Woodsman & The Rain… oh, hard-to-find Japanese movies 😦 But other than that, the trip was great. Victoria Harbour and the HK streets were some of my favorites. Thanks for reading and for the kind words πŸ™‚

      • Ha, don’t worry about the films, you should always concentrate on enjoying yourself… I can’t believe I just wrote that.

        Have you considered recording places and putting the video on YouTube? Also, was it smoggy?

  2. Great to see you make it to Hong Kong! I’m surprised with all the traveling you do that you haven’t gone to HK sooner. I’ve only been to HK twice and can’t wait to go back. Did you make it out to Big Buddha w/ the cable car ride or perhaps the 10,000 Buddha monastery in Shatin? The gold buddhas monastery had a beautifull walking trail up to the steps of the holy grounds. Great photos and looking forward to some more reports on your trip!

  3. @Pat Yeah, I should’ve gone sooner. And HK is just a few hours from Manila. I just always thought it was all shopping and malls…I’m very glad to have been proven wrong. The city is just so alive.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go to the Big Buddha, it was on the list but we didn’t push it. Definitely next time πŸ™‚

    @GenkiJason What are you saying?! Do not prioritize the movies?! Gasp! πŸ™‚ But seriously, I only had a few items I wanted to shop for–those were DVDs/BluRays of those Japanese movies and a few things from Ikea. At least I got a lamp from Ikea to prove I did some shopping in HK. And no, HK wasn’t smoggy when we went there (unless I mistook the smog for fog? hehe). My husband always takes videos when we travel, we just don’t get around to uploading them on YouTube. We even have some Japan videos that we haven’t uploaded yet and that’s almost THREE years ago, tsk tsk.

  4. Yay, you made it! Now, i feel like visiting HK again. πŸ˜‰

    How cold did the evenings get? Spent a month in Boston/NYC in the dead of winter. Baaaaad idea. The cold was vicious and unrelenting. It makes me shiver now just to recall it. πŸ˜‰

    HK has to have one of the most stunning harbor views. I could never tire of it. I hope you had duck and dumplings and all those good things.

    • Hey Mariella, yes, I finally did make the trip! Hooray! And now I want to keep coming back to HK every year–I couldn’t get enough of the harbor view and just the overall energy of the place. Got to eat some damn good dimsum but not enough duck and noodles, tsk, tsk. Another reason to return!
      Mornings and evenings got as cold as 13 or 14deg C, far from being miserable–and far from a winter weather. Man, I haven’t experienced winter and I don’t think I want to (What made you spend a month in Boston and NYC in winter?). 3deg C in spring with light snow already made me miserable years ago. Don’t want to do that again.

  5. Duck and noodles positively make the case for a return to HK. πŸ˜‰ And the shops, the shops, the shops!! I must say though that it’s not much fun trawling markets awash in counterfeit items. Shame, the artsy craftsy curio shops and souvenir stalls have been taken over. I live for those little things that you bring home and never find any use for.

    Sounds like you had great weather. πŸ™‚ The last time I was in HK, the locals were complaining about the unseasonable cold. Boston/NYC in winter was in my To-Do List and I mentally kicked myself every time we were outdoors battling the arctic gusts and snow. Haha. But the seduction of NYC is such that you forget the sub zero temperatures (just as you forget to bring your gloves, eeeek) and just grin and bear it. πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ You have to find the time to go. Have to!!

    • I know what you mean about markets awash in fake goods… like in Temple Street Night Market; I would go back there for the bustling street food scene but not for shopping as most of the stalls just sold fake designer stuff, while the rest of the items you can find in Greenhills, hehe πŸ˜‰ There was a lone leathergoods stall though that had pretty good no-brand leather bags. Mostly, I liked the market stalls in Sheung Wan more.

      I’m jealous of your NYC adventure, even if it was winter… I’ll probably grin and bear it as well. I keep telling myself that eventually, I will get there. All fingers crossed! Have a visa already, just need to save up for the trip, haha! πŸ™‚

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