Our long weekend in Hong Kong was the perfect quick trip.
We flew in late on a Friday night and slept in a bit on Saturday. We wanted to begin our trip with one of the most important aspects of any vacation- food. We asked the front desk clerk at our hotel for recommendations to a good local restaurant. He gave us simple directions and wrote the name of the restaurant for us. We got the correct road and then matched Chinese characters on the paper he gave us to the restaurants around us. We went in and were stuffed into a tiny table that was almost touching another tiny table. (I noticed that a woman came in to eat alone; she was sat at a table with a woman who was already eating. Apparently, you sit where you fit.) The restaurant had a diner feel to it. You could see the cooks in the kitchen; people were piled all over; waiters hurried around. Our menus had an acceptable amount of English. I played it safe and ordered chicken and rice; Jared ordered beef with noodles. I was surprised when my dish came with a soup too. The broth was a milky brown-gray color. I sipped the broth, but found it a little bland. I dug my spoon in deeper to get some veggies, and up came… I didn’t know what it was a first. Is this some kind of root? squid? No. No. That’s a claw. That’s a chicken foot. In my soup. Welcome to China!
Hong Kong is made of many islands. Our hotel was on the mainland in the Jordan neighborhood, near Temple Street Market. Our first day, we ventured to the harbor and took the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island and roamed around the Central neighborhood. We rode the famous Mid-levels escalators to tour the city. That island is one steep hill. The city has put in place dozens of connected, covered escalators to make exploring a little easier on the legs. We visited the Man Mo Temple, which is nestled between so many shops and buildings that it surprised me to hear Jared announce that we had arrived. The outside was under construction, but the inside was a wonderful stifling haze of incense and body heat. The temple honors the god of literature (Man) and the god of war (Mo). The temple was a single room filled with lanterns, statues, candles and incense. Throughout my travels, I have been to so many places of worship. Mosques in Turkey, Catholic cathedrals in Spain and Italy, Shinto shrines in Japan, and countless Buddhist temples throughout Asia. I don’t care if these people believe differently than I do, when I am in these places of worship the air feels holy. It may not be holy to me, but it is to others, and that makes it beautiful to me.
We made our way to board the tram to Victoria Peak. We arrived at the ticket area, and found that the line for the tram was not that long. Then we looked across the street, where hundreds of people were being herded through a maze of metal gates. That was the rest of the line. I grabbed a spot in line while Jared disappeared into the hordes to find out if there was a better option. I always feel slightly nervous when we split up in situations like this. I have a history of doing exactly what I am told to do, even if a better, more logical opportunity arises. If Jared tells me to stand in a line, I will stand there for hours. I don’t really do fight or flight, I freeze. Luckily, Jared returned to me with the news that we could pay a ridiculous amount of money for a bus (boring!) or wait in line. So, we waited. In less than an hour, we were on the old fashioned tram and climbing up to the top of Victoria Peak! The ride is steep. There are notches on the floor so you can brace yourself if you are unfortunate enough to have to stand. The tram pauses near the top for a photo op and then deposits you in a souvenir shop. (I bought a commemorative magnet.)
We wandered around the shops and restaurants at the peak (where there is a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, of all things) before going to the observation deck for sunset and night photography. It seemed like the entire day had been spent wandering to this spot. Ride the metro*, take the ferry, climb the escalators, ride the tram, arrive, stop, and look. We settled into our spot for a few hours and watched the sky and the city. From Victoria Peak, you can see all of Hong Kong, with the harbor drifting through the middle. There was supposed to be a laser light show. We saw amazing pictures of neon lights slicing through the skyline. However, all we saw was a few spotlights. It was incredibly anticlimactic. We took turns using the tripod to take pictures of Hong Kong’s (laser less) skyline. The entire weekend we were delighted by the sky. There was no haze or smog or pollution. There were clear skies with huge, swift clouds. There might be pollution in China, but it wasn’t in Hong Kong when we were there.
Like many of our travel days, our first day in Hong Kong was packed with movement and sightseeing. I’ll put the rest of our trip up soon!
*Fun fact! In Hong Kong, signs for the “subway” will take you to a tunnel that will lead to the other side of a busy street. A literal “sub” (under) way. The “metro” is the underground train system.