It is huge, humid, colorful; multicultural, vibrant…More than 7 million people live on a small area of about 1104 km2 which consists of 4 bigger and more than 200 small islands. The so-called city centre is situated on the islands Hong Kong and Kowloon; these are the most densely populated areas, where almost 100% of the inhabitants live in high buildings; detached houses are close to unknown here. The richer you are the higher you live in order to avoid the noise and the pollution. The lack of space is a general problem in Hong Kong: most of the apartments are very small; buying or renting are both incredibly expensive. Space counts as luxury.
You experience this problem as a tourist as well. We spent our first HK night in the Micro Hotel. Although its name implies that it is probably not a huge place, we didn’t expect this tiny. We booked a double room, which was about 3 squaremetres small and consisted of an extremely narrow bunkbed and a telly on the wall. The length of the bed was exactly the length of the room as well. If both our big backpacks were inside, pressing ourselves into the room through the narrow door was a real challenge.
The toilet & shower was even more funny: in a 70cm x 70cm space there was a “hole on the floor” type of toilet (flush toilet at least!), a tiny washbasin, shower, even a mirror and a small shelf on the wall. You could hardly turn around in the little cabin but you could “get everything done” without significant movements.:) It was a culture shock, a really funny one. we couldn’t stop laughing for about 2 minutes after entering the room for the first time.
Luckily, we could spend the rest of the time (4 more nights) in a more pleasant environment in the Hong Kong Hostel, where we could actually take 3 steps between the door and the opposite wall. It really felt like luxury 🙂
The city was a gigantic interactive museum for us: we were walking around the centre staring at the skyscrapers, checking out the unknown shops,trying the local street food and scary looking sweets, and testing the different forms of public transport. The old trams on Hong Kong island are amazing and sooo cheap.
Allegedly Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities of the world, but to be honest we didn’t find the prices extreme at all. (Thanks to the several months we spent in Australia and then the 3 weeks in NZ we know what it means staying in an expensive city: starvation and exhaustion. 🙂 Okay let’s put it nicer: daily cooking and lots of walking. If you want to know some practical ways of saving money on public transport, food and accommodation in HK, click here! (coming soon)
We spent the first 3 days by ourselves but actually it was very easy to get around as English is one of the official languages in HK, so you don’t feel lost at all. We walked a lot, did some sightseeing; one day we took the Peak Tram to the Peak, which is the most famous lookout point in HK. Not only the view from the top is amazing, but the tram trip is lots of fun too. So steep, it is almost scarry…If you wanna see the sunset from the top, make sure, you go to the tram stop in time as 1-2 hours before sunset, it can get really crowded down there. We lined up for a whole hour – tired & hungry – to catch the tram…but the experience was definitely worth the suffering.
As a typhoon was approaching HK that week, expected to be the closest in the second half of the week, we were trying to spend as much time outdoor as possible as long as we could. We had never experienced the proximity of a typhoon before so we had no idea what to expect; it was kind of scary for us, but no one else seemed too frightened so we decided to calm down as well. 🙂
Before the rainy weather caused by the typhoon arrived we had managed to take a nice day trip outside of the city centre: we took the ferry to go to Lantau island and visit the famous Tian Tan Buddha also known as Big Buddha located at Ngong Ping near Po Ling Monastery. The island is very peaceful and green; you can hardly believe that you are still in Hong Kong. While tourists on busy HK island are almost invisible, here in Lantau you can meet heaps of European faces and even more Asian tourists.
Hong Kong is famous for its nightlife; we haven’t been to a city so alive at night time since we left Berlin. Through my dear friend, Jobina we met Anna, a lovely Australian – HK girl who we went out with on Thursday night. She chose the Mamoz bar for our little “night-out”, which is on the 28th floor of a building, which implies wonderful view on the city. But the main reason for her bar choice was not the view…every Thursday they have Ladies’ night in Mamoz: free Cosmopolitan and Sangria for every woman…as many as you want…so I had my Carrie Bradshaw moment 🙂 Martin as the only man in the company was slurping his Chinese beer all night, but I don’t think he minded.
On our last day in Hong Kong we had the pleasure to meet up with Thomas, our lovely friend we had first met in Hobart, Tasmania doing couchsurfing at the same Australian guy. Although we had only met him once before, it was not a question that we wanted to see him again while visiting his hometown Hong Kong. Thomas was born and raised here so he knows the place as the back of his hand. We spent the whole day together and we found out more about Cantonese food, language and culture than during the previous 4 days altogether. Thank you Thomas for that perfect day! It was such a pleasure to see you again and we hope we can return you great hospitality and generosity one day! See you in Europe soon! 🙂
The following morning we headed for the airport a bit blue and not only because of our stressful itinerary with transfer in Manila. Hong Kong exceeded all our expectations: a tolerant and vibrant (but safe), really loveable metropolis which never sleeps. A place to come back to!!
Enjoy all pics here