Hong Kong Status

A few words before I go lay down with a cold towel over my head…

I’m well and safe in Hong-Kong.

On the other hand, topping a long series of inauspicious events, Justine missed her plane and probably won’t be able to meet me here at all, which implies a heavy rewriting of my next two days’ schedule. I guess there will be much less drinking and much more touristy crap.

Other than that, I can’t say I missed being in a city where every single word of the local language sounds like complete gibberish to me. Of course, I seem to be able to decipher most street signs and other familiar kanjis, but that’s very little help when dealing with a cab driver who doesn’t seem to have the faintest idea where my hotel’s street is and insists on addressing me in his local idiom (ostensibly because his english skills themselves are limited to “English… no…”). Anyway, I finally made it to the somewhat mediocre hotel we had managed to book before leaving (the previous episode in The Hong-Kong Curse series, being Jus’ friend rescinding her lodging offer, two days before arrival).

I guess the next step is to figure where exactly I am on a map and try to make use of my solo time here. But first I got to sleep off that headache before the gerbil digging through my brain finally makes his way out.

4 comments

  1. Welcome to Hong Kong! 🙂 Pity on Justine missing her plane however, yet how do people manage that anyway?

    First bit of advice, is that since you’ll be travelling about a fair bit on HK’s efficient public transport, is to get an Octopus Card (assuming you haven’t got one already). The regular one with HK$100 value should happily see you through your 2 day stop. Alternatively, get the 3 day Tourist Pass Octopus which costs HK$220, for which you get a single journey ride on the Airport Express (might be “important” later). The cost of a single ride on the AE is HK$100 maximum… so IMO works out about the same.

    The HK Tourism Board ( http://www.discoverhongkong.com/ ) has a very extensive website, though if you are wanting some dead-tree information, aside from the Airport, the main offices are at the Star Ferry Concourse at Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) on Kowloon side, or at Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣) on Hong Kong side (MTR, near Exit F).

    Regarding the lack of English proficiency, since you should have some 漢字 (Japanese: Kanji, Mandarin: Hanzi) skills… might be easier to write what you are saying? Obviously one needs pen and paper to hand! 😉

    Now touristy things… I guess everyone has to go to The Peak ( http://www.thepeak.com.hk/ ) and the usual route is to take the funicular tram ( http://www.thepeak.com.hk/tram/location.html ) which can be got to via MTR Central (中環) and head out Exit J2. There is also a bus, which starts from the Central Star Ferry Concourse… look for the 15C CityBus.

    Beyond that, it’s a bit of a free-for-all depending if you want to be on the tourist path or go off the beaten track a little… low budget or really wanting to splashout. If you want a good view of the habour, aside from The Peak, it is also very pretty from Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) either at the Star Ferry pier or a little along at The Avenue of Stars (星光大道).

    Glitzy shopping malls can be found a plenty at Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀), Central (中環), Admiralty (金鐘) & Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣). Street markets are mainly found on Kowloon side. Jordan (佐敦) or Yau Ma Tei (油麻地) (Exit C) for Temple Street (廟街) which aside from the clothes/gadget stalls, also has a number of Dai Pai Dongs (大牌檔) for dinning. Mong Kok (旺角) is probably the busiest place in all HK and has the Computer Centre, Mobile Phone Centre (Sincere Building) plus three (off hand) street markets of different sorts. It also has the glitzy Langham Place for yet more shops and restaurants.

    Also in Mong Kok is one of my favourite eateries by the name of “Very Good Rest” (極之好) and luck would have it that the only info on the net for it is in Japanese ( http://www.techpit.co.jp/fumix/travel/HongKong/Restaurant/rest_mong.html ). However the adress they have for it is now out of date. There are in fact 2 stalls, one is at 21C Soy Street (豉油街) and the other at 113-115 Tung Choi Street (通菜街). The place is well know for it’s stir fried noodles and soup noodles. 😉

    If you like to see the transition of urban HK to rural HK on the cheap… take the KMB route 70 bus ( http://www.kmb.hk/english.php?page=search&prog=route_no.php&route_no=70 ) which starts from Jordan, Wui Cheung Road (佐敦匯翔道) and ends up in Sheung Shui Bus Termius (上水總站), which is near the HK-Chinese border. Takes about 1.5 hours each way and costs a measely HK$8.20.

    The Big Buddha on Lantau is another main sight, and much easier to get to than just via ferry+bus as in the old days. You can get to Lantau via the MTR and it’s the Tung Chung (東涌) station you want. From there it’s the #23 coach to the Po Lin Monastery where the Buddha is situated. The MTR ride takes about 40 mins from urban HK, and the coach ride another hour… so considering the monastery closes at 5:30pm, leave no later than 2pm for it.

    Back on Hong Kong Island side, taking the double decker trams is a good way to plod along the old coastline of the island for just HK$2 for as far as you want to go, and is a good way to see the business district (Central/Admiralty) transition to regular HK, namely either side of that district, such as Wan Chai (灣仔) or Sheung Wan (灣仔).

    Considering you’d be quite familiar with using the Star Ferry for scenic trips across the harbour (Tsui Sha Tsui-Central or Tsui Sha Tsui-Wan Chai), the south of HK Island is well worth a visit too, namely Aberbeen (香港仔) or Stanley Village (赤柱)… floating restaurants and sam pans for the former, yet more street markets for the latter.

    Then if budget is no problem… for HK$800+, you can go on a helicopter tour of HK, where the duration starts from 15 minutes. These are chartered by Heli Hong Kong ( http://www.helihongkong.com/?structure=002&content=96 ) and Heli-Services HK ( http://www.heliservices.com.hk/price_list.html ).

    Think that little lot should be more than enough to get your teeth into, thoughif you want some other info… just ask. 😉

  2. Woa!!! Thanks a lot Jonathan: a real walking guide you are 🙂

    Indeed, the written part isn’t that bad, although honestly, while reading is ok, writing kanjis to communicate only works to a very small extent (lots of useful stuff I would either have very little idea how to write, or would probably use japanese-only “spellings”) and it sure doesn’t help understanding the “#$*(#&$(*&@#$@##-maaaa?” verbal part…

    But with all your indications, I feel I have now regained enough confidence to venture out and maybe even figure out where I am currently, in order to get a bit of food in my stomach…

    I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes!

    Don’t hesitate to keep the advices coming (especially food places)

  3. Haha… after I posted that I thought “gee… should go back to HK and be a freelance guide!”. I know what you mean about “Japanese spelling” as that was the case with myself going to mainland China, with their funny Mandarin dialect, Simplified Chinese characters plus different vocabulary (w.r.t Cantonese).

    Going out to hunt for food is always the fun part, though would indeed help if I knew where you are staying (name of the hotel should do). Rule of thumb for finding decent local food is generally quite easy… look for the busiest restaurant filled with locals. In one fell swoop you should avoid the tourist traps and should have decent cheap food to fill that hole in one’s stomach!

  4. Oh… forgot to finish what I was meaning to say about the Airport Express. Anyway, I take it you have to check out of the hotel Staurday noontime, yet your flight back to Europe isn’t till the (late) evening? In that ca, don’t worry as at either Hong Kong (interchange at Central) or Kowloon (mini-buses from TST, Jordan and iirc Mong Kok) MTR stations, they have an in town check-in.

    Once the heavy lugguage is checked in, you’re free to do some last minute sight-seeing/shopping. The actual trip via the AE from either of those stations to the Airport takes about 25mins to 30mins.

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