Colton's Asia Experience

Hong Kong Hustle

By Colton Powell

We left Tokyo in the early hours of the morning after sleeping in the Haneda airport.

And with little to no sleep arrived in Hong Kong ready to take on the next destination. Exhausted, we found our hostel and decided to take a quick nap and go exploring later in the afternoon.

Hong Kong was a complete change from Tokyo. Instead of an endless urban sprawl, towers dominate the landscape, stacked side by side, rising up into the clouds. The city felt busy, with a sense of urgency, as people hurried to complete their daily errands. The city itself is situated around the busy Victoria Harbour, as ferries shuttle people from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island.

We happened to arrive in Hong Kong during the ongoing protests against the Chinese government. We were told to expect the worst, and figured since we were staying close to the affected areas we would be right in the middle of the chaos. We soon discovered that most of the initial protests had died down, and all that remained were signs and barricades that caused a giant traffic jam rather than a legitimate safety concern.

Hong Kong at Night
Hong Kong Skyline at Night as Seen From Victoria Peak
 
Having only a few days in Hong Kong we decided to stick to some of the main attractions that the city has to offer. We took the tram to Ngong Ping to see the giant Tian Tan Buddha, which proved to be absolutely stunning. Perched atop Lantau Island, its impressive size left us speechless and amazed. We took the ancient peak tram built under British rule to the top of Victoria Peak and took in the incredible views of the skyline, and witnessed the sunset and watched in awe as the city came to life before our eyes.
 
The Tian Tan Buddha as seen from the Po Lin Monastery
The Tian Tan Buddha as Seen From the Po Lin Monastery
 
We also went to Lan Kwai Fong to experience the vibrant nightlife and navigated the back alleys till the early morning hours.
 
We even took in Ocean Park, a large theme park on the south side of Hong Kong Island. From jaw-dropping roller coasters to a plethora of sea life we figured we had managed to see it all. After two full days we headed back to the hostel, exhausted, full and content with our visit. Our heads hit the pillow and we slept a solid 14 hours straight.
 
Riding the gondola at Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island
Riding the Gondola at Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island
 
We awoke Sunday morning to our final day in the city, and decided that a true Hong Kong experience is not complete without going for dim sum. After a little research we found a place called the "Lin Heung Tea House" located in the back of a bakery in Central, which is the key business district of Hong Kong, which is located on the northern shore of the city. We were ushered to a table at the back of the room and seated with two couples. Having been for dim sum only once before we didn't really know quite where to start.
 
An old man with a thin beard first handed us a piece of paper to keep track of what we ordered, a bowl of hot water, two bowls, and some tea and a pair of chopsticks. Bryan figured the water was for drinking so he dipped his bowl into the water and took a sip. He was quickly informed it was for washing the dishes not drinking-our first mistake. We were told in broken Cantonese to go get food at the cart in the center of the restaurant. A steaming cart full of different dishes was pushed to the center of the room every five minutes.

Unlike dim sum in Vancouver, where the cart comes to the table, here you go to the cart and fight for your meal. I went first and found myself in the middle of a food auction, as people screamed in Cantonese and waved their paper, waiting for the lady to stamp it and give them their selections. I made it out of the chaos with one of the last dishes, which looked like some sort of Chinese sausage roll. Five minutes later we braved the cart again, and came back with a BBQ pork bun and a chicken leg wrapped in a local herbal remedy that one of the couples informed us was good for our health.>

We soon learned one of the guys sitting at our table was also from Vancouver, and was now working in Hong Kong. He acted as our guide for the rest of the meal, and ordered us some rice and noodles to satisfy our appetites. We exchanged numbers and he volunteered to be our tour guide for the rest of our stay in Hong Kong.

Although we only had a short stay in Hong Kong, we managed to pack in a lot of sights and attractions.

The city is extremely fast paced, and busy, and it is easy to get lost on more than one occasion. It is filled with an energy that makes you feel alive and excited the entire time you're there. I think this is why so many travellers use it as a hub to begin or end their adventure. It truly is a gateway into Southeast Asia, and a great place to get your feet wet before you head further south.

Hong Kong skyline as seen from the ferry crossing Victoria Harbour
Hong Kong skyline as seen from the ferry crossing Victoria Harbour
 
Click next to continue to Part 6 of Colton's Asia Experience

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