So from Japan my next stop is Hong Kong! It was pretty stressful in the lead up to the journey as my flights had been cancelled due to damage to the Osaka kansai airport from typhoon jebi and the airline had told me they could not fly me out until 4 days after I was originally supposed to go.
I ended up booking new flights going from Nagoya airport instead. It was an indirect flight going through Taiwan but the journey went really smoothly and I was really proud of myself for finding a way to get here. Hopefully, I will be able to claim it back on my insurance as the flight and all the extra trains to the airport has pushed me massively over my budget.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, I went through immigration, security, picked up my bags and went on a hunt for a SIM card. Staying connected is so important for me when I’m travelling. On previous trips, I never used to get a SIM card and would rely solely on the Wi-Fi but being able to use Google maps on the go has been a game changer so far on my big trip.
I was able to get a really good deal on a SIM that I would be able to use whilst in Hong Kong and also when I move to mainland China in a few days. It was also considerably less expensive than the SIM I bought in Japan! I hope this is indicative of the rest of the pricing for Hong Kong.
From the airport, I made my way to the bus terminal and bought a ticket and started to make my way to my hotel. I was absolutely giddy with excitement – I was in Hong Kong by myself at about 8pm and navigating using public transport surrounded by all the bright lights. It felt like such an adventure, it felt surreal and I felt like a completely different person.
The journey to my hotel took an hour bus ride and a 15 minute walk. And once I got to my hotel, I got even more excited. I think the combination of the stress with my flights and the uncertainty of whether I would make it to Hong Kong made me so relieved to finally get here. When I got to my room, I was jumping up and down absolutely beside myself with happiness!
That night, I dropped my stuff in my hotel room which is really nice. I was thinking of going to explore but it was already nearly 11pm and I noticed that my hotel had a pizza bar downstairs so I ordered some food there and ate it in my room, caught up with my family and friends and then fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke up early as I knew my friend from home Sophie was flying out to meet me in Hong Kong so wanted to make sure everything was okay with her. She ended up getting the wrong bus and the journey took a couple of hours but she eventually made it. It has been so nice meeting new people whilst in Japan and making new friends but it was so good to see someone I already know and am comfortable with.
It is actually quite funny because me and Sophie actually met whilst backpacking around India last year, she happened to also be from England and we became good friends. When I was planning my big trip earlier this year, when I told her I had booked tickets to Hong Kong and mainland China, she spontaneously decided to also book flights and come with me!
On my first full day in Hong Kong, I woke up early. After Sophie arrived, she was pretty jet lagged and had not felt well on the plane so I left her to rest and went out to explore by myself. First of all, I went to visit the Wong Tai Sin temple which took me about 20 minutes walking. On this walk, I was able to get my bearings of where the hotel was in relation to everything else and find the closest train station.
The temple was really beautiful and people were burning incense everywhere. What struck me as different to this temple is that people were on their knees properly praying. I saw lots of people sat on their knees with their eyes closed shaking what looked like boxes of incense sticks furiously praying. It was nice to witness.
The temple was next to a shopping mall so decided to go in and have a look around. I was pretty hungry by now so went to look for a restaurant. After looking around, I spotted one that looked pretty good and settled on that. I am not 100% sure what I ordered but it was essentially noodles with cabbage and pork. It was served with black tea and soy bean milk. The food was really tasty and also pretty cheap.
From there, I walked back to the hotel to meet Sophie. I went a really weird route back and it took a lot longer but at least I got to see more of the area. That afternoon, Sophie and I spent time making a list of all the things we wanted to do whilst in Hong Kong and tried to see how we could fit it together.
I then begun to make a plan for that night. I had planned for us to go to temple night market and then to the Hong Kong cultural centre which I had read was a good spot to watch the symphony of lights show from and then I wanted to see the Avenue of Stars before seeing if we could book a boat ride on Victoria harbour.
We bought an octopus card which is Hong Kong’s version of an oyster card which made it easier to travel around. We just loaded some money on it and were able to tap in and out of trains and it can also be used on buses and in convenience stores.
We got to the temple street night market after a quick diversion as I got distracted by some bright lights in a another direction so had navigated us the wrong way (what can I say, I love lights!). The market had everything you could imagine and I wanted to buy so many things for my family. However, I had to stop myself as I need to figure out how I am going to carry the stuff around with me for the next month. We decided not to buy anything yet but made plans to come back there and also go to Mong Kok ladies market in a couple of days time and have an evening of proper shopping.
Time had really got on so we had to start heading to the tsim sha tsui promenade to watch the symphony of lights which is a lights and music show at 8pm every day. We got there and got good spots to watch the show when there was an announcement that the show had been cancelled due to the weather. There was a typhoon and they had issued a level 3 signal. Apparently there is also a super typhoon hitting this weekend as well. I cannot believe I have travelled to another area being affected by a typhoon, this will be my third typhoon of my trip!
Despite the show being cancelled, the harbour was still lit up and looked incredible. In the words of Hamilton the musical: there is nothing like summer in the city. As I looked out into the night sky, I could not agree more.
Whilst taking pictures, we got talking to two girls who were asking us how go get on a boat ride. We ended up not doing the boat ride we had planned to look into and impulsively got on the star ferry with the girls to Hong Kong island instead! We were able to see the Hong Kong observation wheel up close before getting a taxi to Lan Kwai Fong street which I had heard was supposed to be absolutely buzzing at night.
The street lived up to my expectations and had a great atmosphere. First stop was to get food as Sophie and the girls we had met were really hungry. Then we got invited to this bar called The Vault. It was a pretty fancy place with a beautiful decor but we got free entry and then a free first drink as it was ladies night. After looking at the menu and seeing the prices we decided not to get a second drink.
We left the place and looked around the street. I kept on being stopped by people calling me “african queen” trying to get me to come into their bars. That is one big difference between Hong Kong and Japan. In Japan, no-one stared at me or really looked at me any differently at all. It was amazing. Yet, in Hong Kong, I get stares and people taking pictures. At the night market, I got a group of women who were so fascinated by my hair and gathered around me touching it. I do not really like all the attention, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
We did not go into any of the bars people were trying to get us to go in but we decided to stop in a different place playing good music. We bought one drink which ended up costing nearly £11 each, it made me really miss my cheap university prices. We stayed there for a bit dancing to the music to get our money’s worth after the expensive drink before getting the train back to our hotel and calling it a night.
The following day, we had a bit of a lie in before heading out for an early lunch. We went to Tim Ho Wan which is a michelin star dim sum restaurant.
The menu was not very extensive but there was still plenty of things to choose from so we just decided to order a bunch of dishes and share them. I was really surprised with myself for trying so many different things and even more surprised that I actually enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend the restaurant as it was all so delicious yet so cheap. The whole meal came to the equivalent of £6 each!
We then went to the ten thousand buddha monastery. I got a bit confused exiting the tube station and ended up navigating us to the side of a dual carriageway! We got a lot of funny looks as we walked by the side of the road but we made it.
I feel as though the monastery is a hidden gem of Hong Kong as it is not very well sign posted. However, it is so beautiful and it really is very unique with all the gold buddha statues everywhere so I am really glad we got to visit it.
There are lots of steps to get to the top part of the monastery but it is definitely worth it just for the incredible views you get. I could not quite believe my eyes – it looked like a scene straight from a post card. But it really was reality!
At the top, there were more buddha statues of different sizes with different facial expressions. I did not count how many buddhas there were but it definitely felt as though there were ten thousand buddhas so the place lived up to its name!
There were also lots of shrines and a pagado at the top. So there was plenty to see at the top which made a nice reward for braving the climb to the top.
After this we made our way to Victoria peak. I really enjoyed the journey there. Walking through some of the shopping areas was a lot of fun as there were sky scrapers everywhere and lots of jewelry stores. I do not know what it is about Hong Kong that just makes me feel so happy. It feels like being in London but better – I could honestly see myself living here in the future.
On my way, I saw a “Harry Winston” store which reminded me of the song “diamonds are a girls best friend”. So of course, I burst into song and dance on the streets. I got a lot of people laughing but I had the best time feeling like I was in a musical.
We got to Victoria peak using the peak tram which was a super fun mode of transport and gave us the opportunity to see the amazing views going up.
We bought tickets for the sky terrace 428 where we had even more incredible views of Hong Kong. We timed it just right to watch the sun set and then also got to see all the lights start coming on. It was absolutely wonderful.
From here we tried to get back to watch the symphony of lights show but there was a bit of a queue for the peak tram and we had already bought return tickets so we were not able to see the show for the second time!
We ended up going to McDonald’s for dinner. I would feel bad about eating western food in Hong Kong but the menu was actually quite different to the one back home. The most notable thing was the shake bags which are basically bags you can put your chips in and add seasoning to and then you shake them to mix in all the flavour. They had all sorts of different flavours including seaweed flavour but I ended up going for honey chicken which was very tasty.
Once again, we slept in late. I am getting a bit of a cold so my body has been aching and I have a migraine so it was a struggle to wake up. When we finally got up, we started our journey to lantau island go go see tian tan more colloquially known as “big buddha”.
The journey ended up taking a really long time as we had to do part of the journey by bus as the cable car was closed but we made it there before the place closed.
I know it probably sounds stupid but I did not expect bit buddha to be so big. It really was massive! It is hard to put it in perspective from pictures but it was very awe inspiring in person. We were also able to see the Po lin monastery whilst here.
We then had to rush back to Hong Kong island so we could make it in time for the symphony of lights show – we could not miss it for the third time! We made it in time for 8pm and were able to get a good view of the show from outside the Hong Kong cultural centre.
I am not going to lie, the show was actually very underwhelming and I feel as though I had hyped it up in my head. I was sort of expecting some kind of lights extravaganza but in reality, it was ten minutes of a few laser beams. But I am happy I got to see it with my own eyes!
After the show, we tried to go and see the Avenue of Stars and Google maps kept taking me round and round and I could see the sign for it but I could not actually find it. That is when I realised that it was closed for construction! So I didn’t get to see that either but at least I tried.
I then got myself some take out from a stall and went back to my hotel to eat Chinese take out whilst actually in China! (mind blowing, I know).
We moved from a hotel in Kowloon to a different hotel on Hong Kong island. We ended up having a lazy day and just spent the afternoon swimming and chilling by the hotel pool. There is a typhoon approaching Hong Kong from the Philippines so I was a little wary going too far from the hotel. On the way here, I saw people taping up their windows in preparation for it to hit and there was a letter left in the hotel room from the management staff warning us about it. So I am getting a little worried!
I will hopefully be heading to mainland China tomorrow by train where I will be travelling around for nearly a month. I am not sure how easy it will be to keep in touch and update my blog whilst there due to the blocks on the internet but I will definitely try my best!
If any of you have been to China and have any recommendations of things I must do or see whilst I am there then please comment or send me a message! I would love to hear from you.
It’s me, Dammy, off to the next city