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Reisverslag Coming up for air
10 april 2014
Coming up for air
It has been 8 weeks already and I am not sure how the rest of you guys do this but working life simply blows. For the last let say 4 weeks I’ve been looking forward to my long weekend in April where I would have just enough time to pop out of Taiwan and have a look around somewhere else.
It feels like the majority of people that I know have already seen this place and it’s time I followed suit and have a look around in Hong Kong. A mere hour and 45 minute flight was enough to get me in Hong Kong, unfortunately the flight was delayed for 2 hours which made me arrive in somewhat later than planned. Normally I’m not big on planning my trips but having only just bought my Lonely Planet at the airport made me a tad bit more unprepared than preferred for such a whirlwind visit.
My bus ride into the city was rather disappointing because it was pitch black due to the lateness of my arrival, the hostel I chose was luckily still able to help me with a bed and was also happy to help me part with an absurd sum of money for a dorm bed.
Still wanting to get the most out of my day, I only allowed myself for a few hours of sleep before starting to explore the place. For really no apparent reason I decided to venture out to Lantau island (where I only hours earlier had landed at the airport) to visit one of the must see sights of Hong Kong.
It was a long trip and there was much time spent queuing but I finally arrived at the plateau. It was very bright and sunny on top where I (and a ton of other day trippers) was being greeting by the massive Tian Tan Buddha. As all too often with these kinds of sights it’s not really that impressive but at least I’d seen it and could now work my way back to the city.
In Robert Ludlum’s “the Bourne supremacy” Jason Bourne spends time in Kowloon and ever since that name had sounded very exotic to me and I wanted to check it out someday. The Kowloon I had imagined and the Kowloon I was presented with couldn’t have been further apart, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the place. There was Canton road which is basically a kilometre long street lined with all the top end designer brands you could think of, needless to say I fitted right in…
Something that struck me as interesting was the mix between this urban area with many brand new buildings and then all of a sudden a park that had an almost prehistoric feel to it, very cool.
Being in Kowloon you have to make the “pilgrimage” to the statue of the father of Kung Fu in modern cinema; Bruce Lee. It might be touristy as **** but it was one of the items of my to-see-list. There are the obvious mobs around the statue, posing and taking selfies alike. Secretly I wanted to have a photo with mr Lee as well but couldn’t bring myself to posing and then having to ask someone I didn’t know to take the picture, so I walked away with pride intact but no photographic evidence. On the same boardwalk as where the statue is, is an attempt to create a Hong Kong version of Hollywood’s walk of fame . This Hong Kong version had many starts with names but most of them to me (and I can only guess here) and the majority of non-Hong Kong residents unknown.
The avenue of the stars (as it is called) has a beautiful view on the island of Hong Kong, so even if you are unfazed by the start you can feast your eyes on an all too familiar skyline.
Having felt like I hadn’t gotten enough exercise in I returned to Hong Kong city to climb the peak for a beautiful view over the full city and Kowloon on the other side of Victoria harbour. Upon arriving I still had enough daylight to see the transition from Hong Kong by day to Hong Kong by night. Unfortunately my camera really isn’t up to the task of taking decent photos by night so I’ll just have to do my best to remember this view (or maybe just nab some else’s photo of the internet).
Made an effort to see the symphony of light but saw only the final minutes from the wrong side of the river so I had to do that again the next time. Back in the hostel I absolutely loved the travel vibe and welcomed the familiarity of it all. Met lots of new people and we collectively made our way to Lan Kwai Fong. This is the place to party the night away and that is exactly what we did. It’s a street (and neighbouring streets) lined with bars and other drinking/party venues where a mix of all sorts of people hang out and have fun together.
With not nearly enough sleep, day 2 began with a lovely walk from my hostel (causeway bay) to central, where I my eyes kept on darting from left to right, up and down to try and take in as much as I could from this cool city. It is pretty much skyscraper galore where the one is even more interesting than the other, as a city boy I loved walking around here and the sun made sure that the buildings looked even more shiny.
Came across some familiar sites that I had seen so many times on travel shows and travel brochures. Went up the escalators in Shelley street, browsed around Soho, visited Man Mo temple, great to just wander aimlessly around in this place.
Another icon is the ferry to Kowloon, so I was again found myself in Kowloon where I did some more wandering to eventually end up in the temple street night market. However, coming from Taiwan where there are thousands of night markets I was not very impressed with this one but did manage to pick up a souvenir so I guess it wasn’t a fruitless visit.
Since I missed the symphony of lights yesterday I had to make up for that today, so I strolled back to the river bank to get ready for the spectacle that is the symphony of lights….
Not entirely sure what to think of it though. There’s music being played and the building on the other side of the river light up accordingly with different colours, lasers and flickering lights. I suppose it kept me entertained for a while but it didn’t impress.
The second night followed the same recipe as the first only with new faces and maybe more drinking.
On my final day I had planned to finally go for some Dim Sum but this proved a more challenging task than expected. Walked around for what seemed like forever but couldn’t find anything that met my needs. The process wasn’t helped by the fact that there was a nasty drizzle going on and I was not in peak condition after last night’s abuse. Perseverance is key and I remember a place in Kowloon that had looked particularly good on Saturday but I wasn’t hungry at the time. After a far too long time I finally sat down for some tea and Dim Sum, because I’d be damned to leave Hong Kong without enjoying some of these little delights.
The drizzle turned into rain and a plan to visit the museum got cancelled after witnessing a ridiculous queue. My plan to end my visit with another walk through central also had to be reconsidered and I saw no other option than returning to my hostel and wait there until it was time to fly back home.
All in all a really nice weekend where I came to understand why so many people love this city. As a backpacker it will be a bit painful since the place isn’t cheap, but it’s a fantastic place for a layover of a few days. For me personally, it was a place that I had almost go to for a job before I ended up in Taipei, but I think I might have to keep an eye out for future possibilities here.
For now it’s back to work for at least another 2 months before I have a chance to go on another weekend trip. And even though I came back home 2am Monday morning and started the week exhausted, I think I am going to have to consider doing something like this again.
So now having just come up for air I will go under again and hold my breath until my next escape.