Hong Kong – A Traveller’s Gateway to Asia

View from the Peak
Hong Kong was the perfect place to start are first trip to Asia. It gave us an introduction to the crowds, smells, and food we would encounter in Vietnam, but in a controlled, overly sanitized, and easily navigated environment. Hong Kong is a great mix of traditional and modern – shiny new bank buildings are nestled next to open-air fish markets and ancient Buddhist temples.

Hong Kong at Night Pedestrian Crowds
The biggest culture shock visiting Hong Kong was getting used to the crazy amounts of people jammed into such small spaces. There are highrises everywhere, with tiny apartments in them (we actually stayed in a someone’s spare bedroom, booked on airbnb.com). The markets and shops were almost claustrophobic. And yet, even with 7 million people in such a small area, there were some remarkably tranquil parks and hardly any car traffic.

Airport Express Station Star Ferry View from the Cable Car Hong Kong Streetcars
The transportation system in Hong Kong is amazing. Simply amazing! It’s super cheap, the Octopus smart cards take care of everything, and there’s a plethora of multimodal options – subways, buses, light rail, taxis, ferries, trams, cable cars, and even the a travellator.

I was really impressed with the subway system. At the transfer points, the train you wanted to transfer to was always directly across the platform. Normally, that would be the same train heading in the opposite direction, but they had designed the system so you only had to walk 10 meters to transfer lines. And at the downtown Hong Kong, they have an airport check-in in the subway station, where you can leave your bags in the morning, spend the day exploring the city, and then board a train in the evening that drops you right off in the airport terminal and your bags are already loaded on the plane.

Veggie Hotpot Aztec SaladShanghai Noodles Bun Bakery
The food was excellent. They have lots of vegetarian restaurants (some Western style and several Buddhist ones). Our favourite meals were the Shanghai noodles at Kung Tak Lam, veggie hot-pot at Pure Veggie House, and burgers and salad at Life Cafe.

There were a number of sights we really enjoyed checking out.
Hello Hong Kong Koi
Hong Kong Park – a relaxing oasis in the middle of the city, with an excellent (and free) aviary.

Big Buddha Buddha High Five Buddhist Gifts Fishing Boats
Big Buddha – A impressive sight, especially on a clear day. We had to wait a long time in line for the cable car, and then run a gauntlet of tacky souvenir shops, but we eventually made it to the Buddha. We also had a tasty vegetarian lunch at the monastery and checked out nearby Tai O fishing village, for a view into non-urbanized Hong Kong.

A Symphony of Lights
A Symphony of Lights – a glitzy light show, and free.

At the Peak Emily and Hong Kong Skyline
The Peak – the cable car up is fun, and the views from the Peak are excellent. The shops at the top are all tourist traps, but easily avoided.

Like the rest of our trip through Vietnam, the best park of Hong Kong was wandering the streets, checking out the markets, and people watching.
Fat Trading Co. Neon Lights Dried Fish Market Hong Kong Apartments Construction Barrier Fish Vendor Bamboo Scaffolding Junk Sleeping Monk
Buddha in the Flowers Banyan Tree Retaining Wall Ferry Bike Parking Bikes Outside the Local Hangout

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