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downundergal Hong Kong - A travel report by Kerrie
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Hong Kong,  Hong Kong - flag Hong Kong
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downundergal's travel reports

Exotic Hong Kong

  16 votes
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When I was growing up I digested a steady diet of exciting fiction filled with Tai-pans, opium dens, dashing heroes & action. Much of this was set against the background of this exotic city so I was ready to jump in and experience it all firsthand. report of the month contest
Mar 2007

View from the ferry.
View from the ferry.
Spread around a magnificent harbour Hong Kong is a heady mix of east meets west, towering skyscrapers jostling for space, narrow atmospheric laneways, towering mountains and a long interesting history. No matter where you decide to stay you will visit the other parts of the city.

Down along the harbour on the Kowloon side is a great boardwalk to stroll along and visit the “Avenue of the Stars” and have your photo taken with some homegrown names like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, well, statues of them in any case. The harbour is also the prime spot to watch Hong Kong’s nightly light show where at 8pm many of the skyscrapers light up with a synchronized symphony of lights that is fabulous to see.

I really enjoyed just wandering around the back alleys without a sign in English to be seen and peeking in the cramped, old fashioned shops, watching the locals going about their everyday trade. Who knows what treasures could be hidden away lost over the years past?

Kowloon Park is a nice green space to stroll and escape from the crowds and traffic. It is over 13 hectares and boasts a huge range of facilities including a large pond, a Chinese garden, and a large swimming pool and sports centre. It is also a tremendous spot to observe the locals many of whom socialise here or indulge in some Tai-chi or board games.

The main tourist area of Kowloon near the harbour is filled with camera and electronic shops with gigantic flashing neon signs trying their best to lure another shopper in. If you are going to buy before you commit pop into one the cafes with internet connection and check the prices online first just to make sure that your price is on par as haggling is a way of life here and there’s a good chance you might pay more than you should!

Favourite spots:
Deep in thought in Kowloon Park
Deep in thought in Kowloon Park
There is a huge range of top end shops to be found in the glitzy shopping malls.
If these are not your style or your budget doesn’t stretch that far opt for the Markets. We found that the shopping was good but the range of some goods such as watches was not as wide as other Asian shopping hubs.

The Ladies Market is a definite one not to miss. With stall after stall of souvenirs and every imaginable thing you could desire such as handbags, watches, t-shirts, DVD’s, jackets, mahjong sets, chess sets, the list goes on and on.

Copyright pirating is taken seriously here, especially when it comes to handbags and watches. Clothing doesn’t seem to be quite as stringent. My racing mad nephew was lucky enough to receive a Holden racing jacket that would cost $100’s of dollars at home but cost me a fraction of that.

What's really great:
Night Skyline
Night Skyline
If you have your heart set on a “designer” label handbag, wallet or watch it is still possible, pick your mark and they will take you up one of the rickety staircases to their rooms that hold their secret stash of name brand copies. It did cross my mind “was I going to get out of this” but it turned out OK.

You have the option of different grades of name brands. Pay for the top quality and like me my handbag is indistinguishable from the real thing as well as my designer watches. Just a word of warning we had a problem with customs coming home as they thought we were trying to duck the sales tax as they couldn’t tell them from the real thing.

Not for everyone but we did visit the Goldfish Market as we have a Marine Tank. For us to stock up on equipment it was a tenth of the price of what we would pay back at home. If you have any interest in fish the range of absolutely gorgeous fish is mind blowing and so cheap but there was no chance of transporting any of them home!

Harbour on a wet and miserable day.
Harbour on a wet and miserable day.
A ferry ride on the harbour is a must do everyone’s itineiry and for a very good reason as it is amazing. You can do this via the normal ferry service or as we did by accident we took the “tourist” Star Ferry Harbour Tour on a complete circuit around the harbour hopping off when we wanted and reboarding when ready. It was actually a good result as the ferry wasn’t crowded so we could make the most of the views and it also included afternoon tea as well. After all our walking this was a welcome respite.

Another must do is the bus trip to Stanley. The town itself is not the attraction but the trip there. Take the old fashioned double decker bus and sit at the top to receive fantastic views as you wind your way around the twisting road. You may find yourself holding on for dear life without even realizing it. When in Stanley there are some great restaurants for a leisurely lunch. There are also some markets but they are extraordinarily overpriced.

Our room
Our room
We opted for the BP International, aka Scout’s Headquarters.
Don’t be scared off by being surrounded by a million Scouts on jamboree, they have their own entrance, Reception, elevators and are limited to certain floors of the hotel.
It's a great location close to the subway and shopping.
The rooms were roomy enough, the bathroom was clean and glass must be cheap as it was totally sheeted in it.
I was taken with the space saving bits like the hidden cavity in the desk, open the lid and you had your hairdryer with your own personal mirror.
We were allocated up on the 21st floor looking out over Kowloon Park towards the harbour so the view was fantastic.
We spent so much time shopping that we were hardly in our room except to sleep.
A full buffet breakfast was also included in the room rate.
The Lobby was something you would expect in a ritzy hotel and the bar was a low key place to have an afternoon drink and recharge. Free internet was on offer from 4pm.

Some of the maids.
Some of the maids.
Not a nightlife tip just a general observation.

We happened to visit Hong Kong Island on a Sunday which also happened to be the maids one day off for the month – I have never seen anything like it – thousands of predominantly Filipino’s sitting on the ground in every available space meeting with friends, picnicking or just relaxing. The roads were even closed to accommodate them all. Talk about keeping the economy running!

Traditional junk and the landmark Clock Tower.
Traditional junk and the landmark Clock Tower.
There are some great cafes like Starbucks or the Pacific Coffee Company that has some yummy bakery items that also offer free internet access for 10 or 15 minutes while you sip your coffee. Long enough to mail home and check your emails.

If like us you spend so much time shopping and eating is due to necessity to keep going try Yoshinoya a franchise that offers healthy food with fast food service. A bowl of rice, marinated chicken or beef or similar and a big helping of super fresh vegetables. Order at the counter and your food is served in a big bowl within minutes and really tasty too. Dinner for 2 $50 HK dollars, just over $5.

Other recommendations:
Typical road
Typical road
We visited in mid June and arrived in the middle of the worst thunderstorm for forty years and it was cloudy or raining the entire time. Not a problem when it came to shopping but a bit of interference for sightseeing.

As a result we had to skip some of the most well known attractions such as the cable car ride up to the Peak as it was so mist shrouded there would not have been a hope of seeing anything.

Something to keep in mind as to when you plan your visit.

The MTR transport system is cheap as chips and an easy and cheap way to get around the city. Mainly underground it is not a great option for sightseeing but great for those aching feet.

Published on Wednesday April 25th, 2007

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Thu, May 17 2007 - 04:34 AM rating by magsalex

Congratulations on the Report of the Month...well deserved!

Sun, May 06 2007 - 02:50 AM rating by marianne

Excellent report and I love to see the pictures. We have just beenthere so it was a kind of: Oh yes I remember

Sun, May 06 2007 - 01:43 AM rating by davidx

You confirm my view that htia is the number 1 place for a stopover if I ever get to your part of the world. Excellent report.

Fri, Apr 27 2007 - 11:45 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Muy bien! Es un report muy didáctico, exótico y bello. Gracias!

Thu, Apr 26 2007 - 01:31 PM rating by bootlegga

Nice pics!

Wed, Apr 25 2007 - 05:08 PM rating by eirekay

Kerrie, I admire your shopping spirit - I would love the replica handbag but I would be scared to death to venture up the staircase to get it :-) Great Report with some terrific info!

Wed, Apr 25 2007 - 10:32 AM rating by mistybleu

Ohh Kerrie this brings back so many, many wonderful memories. Temple Street night market, the shopping, playing chess in the park, the Peninsula Hotel, Aberdeen etc.

This is a wonderful report.

Wed, Apr 25 2007 - 08:54 AM rating by sajjanka

nice combination of pictures and information,i m very glad to read this report.Excellent

Wed, Apr 25 2007 - 07:15 AM rating by frenchfrog

Thanks for that great report, very detailed, well written. I love Hong Kong!

Wed, Apr 25 2007 - 06:02 AM rating by rangutan

An excellent and comprehensive report and a wonderful update since rejoining China.

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