Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hong Kong

Day 1:
We arrived at 7am in Hong Kong (7pm in Boston). We took the bus from the airport to our Hostel. We were not allowed to check into our room until 12:30. But we were told we could leave our bags in the office safely. We were staying on the north part of Hong Kong(Kowloon), the peninsula of mainland China. While we were paying $16 (US) dollars per person, we had AC and wireless internet. What we lacked was space. The room was just bigger than the bed and the shower was over the toilet. The bed itself was very firm. It felt very similar to sleeping on a carpeted floor.
The streets of Kowloon were empty at 8am and everything seemed to be closed. We headed to Hong Kong museum of History. The museum didn't open until 10am so we grabbed from breakfast at a local bakery. The museum was very interesting and gave us a background for Hong Kong. Hong Kong was under English rule until 1997. And was controlled briefly by Japan during world war II. Because Hong Kong was under English rule until recently, English was spoken almost everywhere we went.
After the museum we headed back to check into our room. But we decided it was a bad idea to take a nap because we would sleep all day.  After grabbing noodles on Peking street, we headed to Kowloon Park which is a huge park in the center of Kowloon, it is similar to Central Park in NYC. We found a grassy spot to take a nap and read. We took showers in the hostel and then headed to the harbor for the Star Ferry Tour. We meet Louise who was a Swedish student who was also staying in our hostel. She was only in Hong Kong for 12 hours to reset her Chinese Visa. She had spent the semester studying in Shanghai. We found a food court for dinner and then Garrett and I headed back to the hostel to sleep. We had fought our tiredness all day and it was finally time to sleep.

Day 2
After 12 hours of sleep, we were ready to start our day. We had planned to go to Victoria peak, but when we stepped outside in the rain we decided to change our plans. The art museum was closed on Thursdays, so we headed to Hong Kong Island to explore. We took the subway to "Central" and walked to Man Ho Temple. I head read about the temple in the new york times recommended things to do in Hong Kong. I was surprised when we arrived to the temple to find it very small and authentic. Many natives were there praying. Huge incense filled the ceiling and each person was lighting small incense.
We continued our walk east through "SoHo". It was bizarre how European/american the streets became. There were bars and shops lining the streets and most people were white. It was like we had magically walked home. The bruins game was playing in many of the bars. We were tempted to stop and watch but we had already looked up the score and knew the exciting outcome.
We walked to the Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological garden. The Gardens were beautiful and some of the animals were very cool. Other animals were interesting for natives like raccoons, squirrels and flamingos. In the gardens we met Mike who was from Framingham, MA. He joined us for lunch. Lunch was in the financial district and was very american. I had a roast beef sandwich. We followed Mike to meet up with a girl he had met the night before, Kristen. We all went to see the Big Buddha. The Big Buddha was my favorite thing in Hong Kong. We went at the end of the day as everything was closing which meant that all of the tourists had left. It was very peaceful and there was a spectacular view of the mountains.
We returned to Central for dinner. We went to an all you can eat sushi place for dinner with Mike and Kristen.

Day 3
Despite the rain, we headed up to Victoria's Peak. It is at the top of one of the mountains on Hong Kong Island that overlooks the city. It is very touristy at the top with tons of shops and restaurants, but the view is definitely worth the trip.
We headed back to Kowloon to see the Dragon Boat racing carnival. Surprisingly this was not a tourist event. There were Dragon Boat teams from all over the world. There were hundreds of races over the course of three days. The boats are similar to canoes with a drummer keeping beat in the front and a person steering the boat in the back. It was fun to watch.
After walking around and poking into shops. Garrett went to read as I went and got a Massage. I figured there is no place in the US were you can get a massage for $10. For dinner we went back to the food court from our first day since we had enjoyed it so much. Who knew that rice, eggs, meat and veggies could be so good.
After dinner we walked back to the harbor to watch the symphony of lights. They play music for 20 minutes and the buildings on Hong Kong island light up to the music. It was a really great show.
Day 4
We woke up early to pack up our things and check out of the hostel. We grabbed breakfast and poked in a few more shops before heading to the subway. We arrived very early to our flight which allowed Garrett to sleep while I skyped.
We arrived in Kuala Lumpur (KL) around 4:30. Immigration took much longer than in Hong Kong, but that is just because there was a long line of people. Once we were at the counter, we quickly made our way to the train. The airport in KL is about 30 minutes outside the city. When we arrived in the city, Cheech(Bryan Chong from the Cornell Buds) and his Dad picked us up. We went to their lovely home and showered before going out to a magnificent dinner. One entire wall in the restaurant was filled with tanks of fish and other Seafood. We went over and picked out our dinner. We had about 10 courses of food and we enjoyed all of them. We could tell we were going to like staying with the Chongs. After dinner I passed out almost immediately.


  1. Jackie-- I thought Garrett was a good correspondent but, you win, hands down! I almost felt as if I were back in HK while reading your notes..... very evocative & colorful. Hope you'll get as much out of the rest of your itinerary.... keep us posted.

    Inez (Garrett's G-ma)

  2. Hi Jackie,

    I'm enjoying reading about your trip and especially the pictures. Keep them coming! I'm glad you got to see the Buddha under such good circumstances. The Dragon Boat Races sounds like a real find! Great to hear from you!