Saturday, November 28, 2015

November 28, 2015

Hong Kong!

We arrived in HK last night a little before 10 pm. We were able to get through customs and collect our luggage quickly and then headed out of the airport to catch a city bus.  HK is comprised of several islands- connected by bridges and underwater metro lines. We had decided to stay in Kowloon, across the harbor from Hong Kong Island- but about 25 minutes and an island away from the airport. We figured out the bus ticket system, got the right bus, and enjoyed a quick ride into Kowloon and to our hotel. Experiencing HK for the first time, in the dark was actually pretty disorientating. It was nearly midnight and the streets were packed with people of all ages!  Neon lit signs, taxis and buses roaring down the streets, restaurants opening onto the sidewalks- it all looked fantastic but we were pretty determined to get to bed after over 24 hours of traveling!

We both slept decently well and our hotel is very nice. This morning, we wandered across the hotel to a large shopping mall in search of coffee.  Starbucks did not disappoint and we able to enjoy our coffe from several stories above the street and take in the busy views. We headed back to our hotel concierge desk and ordered our train tickets for tomorrow to Guangzhou.  Then we headed out for the day.  First stop was the waterfront and the Star Ferry landing.  These beat up, glorified tug boats have been shuttling passengers across Hong Kong harbor for decades- and for mere pennies a ticket.  It was a great way to see the harbor, enjoy some fresh air, and feel a little local. 

From the ferry landing on Hong Kong island, we caught another bus through the city.  Traffic was thick and slow but we enjoyed the looking up at the enormous sky scrapers.  HK is an extremely hilly city- the roads have been carved into the hillside with towered office buildings and apartments clinging to the cliffs. Our destination was the Peak Tram- an ancient cable car that rapidly ascends Victoria Peak- the tallest point in the city. Unfortunately, the rest of HK also decided to take the Peak Tram today and the line for tickets was several hours long.  We asked a few cab drivers but were denied a ride due to bad traffic so we decided to walk to the Peak.  We found an old trail of carved out steps that follow the cable car up the mountain, criss-crossing city streets and apartment alleyways.  We were about half way up when I declared that I was done and possibly dying.  Thankfully a passing cab was willing to pick us up for the remainder of the trek to the top. 

And the views from the top were possibly worth nearly perishing on the hilly streets of Hong Kong from exhaustion. 

After a little exploring, we found lunch at a pho place- yum!

We decide to take the tram down from the peak- also a fun adventure. The tram is the world's steepest cable car in the world and has been in operation since 1888.  It was unbelievable steep (actually- it was very believeably steep- I walled UP that steep part)- at times you had to fight to sit upright in the tram because of the incline. And we rode down backwards.  

Once at the bottom, we retraced our steps back to the hotel.  We changed clothes, found drinks at a nearby 7-11, and headed to the nearest metro station to explore another part of HK- the famous Ladies Market.  This is where all manner of knocked off purses, watches, and clothing is sold, swap- meet style. They say this is the place to go for the latest trends- shop space is at such a premium and store owners keep a very limited amount of inventory so only the latest styles are available. The streets were packed with everything from shoppers and store owners to street musicians to costumed mascots selling broad band Internet. It was wild. 

We connected with friends of friends for dinner at a traditional family- style Chinese restaurant. A massive circular table with fine,white china dishes awaited us.  Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings and a glass lazy Susan dominated the center of the table.  Our friends arrived with their six children and another friends and began ordering the entire menu and pouring jasmine tea.  Everything was delicious! From the elaborate mango breaded prawns to the fried peanuts, I was in Chinese food heaven!

Austin and I were starting to feel the effects of jet lag but it was still a special time of sharing with this family and hearing their heart for orphaned children.

After dinner, we took a violet different metro lines to get back to our hotel- and amazingly enough, we ended up exactly where we wanted to be!  

Tomorrow we will leave HK for GZ- mainland China.  We will be taking a bullet train.  We're looking forward to the next part of our journey but sure have enjoyed our time here in HK.  Definitely will need to come back for more exploring!

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