Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hong Kong (days 1 - 2)

Hello hello! I am finally back from my month-long vacation and boy do I have loads of pictures and videos to share. However they would have to be split into several themed posts. First up are the titbits from my Hong Kong trip or at least the first two days of it. If you want me to summarize the entire trip in one sentence, that would be “Hong Kong has too many people all moving at a crazy pace and I don’t think I would visit the country again anytime soon”. That being said, I still had a fun time in this “Fragrant Harbour”.

Day 1

My first contact with Hong Kong–Central on a weekday at lunch time and my first impression–it’s like clockwork chaos on overdrive.

I had to have a meal at the most expensive “tea cafes” of Hong Kong called Tsui Wah. Lunch time in Central on a work day is something to be experienced at least once in your lifetime though the food was not all that great for the price they were charging.

Causeway Bay, major crossing. The weather was phenomenally warm for winter which was extremely mild compared to that of Sydney. Almost everyone was bundled up in some form of winter wear whilst I was the only one in a singlet!

Causeway Bay, back alley. In Hong Kong, the back alleys are full of life (something not measured by the amount of human and traffic flow) and should definitely be checked out.

The tram going up to The Peak was pretty fast whilst still being on a great incline. This picture was taken to illustrate the tilt as indicated by the angle of the vertical structures outside the window.

I did not pay to enter Madame Tussauds at The Peak for I had my fill of posing with mannequins just at the entrance. I really do not understand the appeal of wax-formed celebrities at all. Do you know who I was posing with in the picture?

The view at the top was nice despite the foggy weather (which disappointed me slightly). Little did I know that first day would be the clearest of the week!

Sunset at The Peak. The trick is to get there around sunset to capture both the day and night scenes.

I took 20 shots at the same angle spaced out from just before it started to get dark till when it got totally dark. I just cannot find a way to upload the time-lapse gif file I have created!

Day 2

Part of the purpose of my trip was to shop and how could I miss visiting the Citygate Outlets (against the advice of my friends). I was actually surprised that I managed to buy something reasonably nice there.

Did I not mention that the forecast for the rest of the week was fog…

…and more fog? It was really a pity as the view was supposed to be breath-taking on board the cable car to Ngong Ping 360.

The recommended Ngong Ping 360 itinerary allocated a whopping 50% of the time to this tourist trap of a tiny shopping village and left the rest to the main attractions. Cleverly cunning aren’t they?

Po Lin Monastery from the outside. Nothing special.

Po Lin Monastery from the inside. I chatted up a nun and we talked about orchids. She refused to be photographed though–no surprises there.

At the base of the long flight of stairs to the Giant Buddha. I took a video of the process of me running up the stairs non-stop from bottom to top and boy was I panting at the end!

I had to run around the Buddha and up a few flights of circular stairs from the photographer before I could pose for this picture. I was a little worried the stranger who took the picture would run away with my camera as I was dashing back down (which took 20 seconds or so).

Golden Computer Shopping Arcade in Sham Shui Po is something like Sim Lim Square of Singapore but much smaller. I wanted to buy stuff there but many things were out of stock. I ended up buying everything from Wan Chai Computer Centre instead (which against my better judgement offered lower prices). I heard one was supposed to haggle more at Golden though–a stressor I would like to avoid.

Sham Shui Po belongs to the poorer part of Hong Kong and this was reflected in its residential blocks.

Ladies’ Market. One lesson I have learnt when street market-shopping–never buy something after you have first encountered it. I later found at Temple Street the exact thing that I have bought at a fraction of the price I have paid.

At this point of the evening, my feet were killing me from all the walking in very poor shoes (the biggest pain, mistake and regret of the trip) to the extent that even if “Sportswear Street” offered the world’s lowest prices for the world’s most comfortable pair of shoes, I would have no interest in walking an inch more to that shop to purchase it. Ironic eh?

Something that I passed by but did not enter–a mahjong parlour. On hindsight I should have gone in. I heard that public gambling is illegal in Hong Kong (or something like that) which then kind of failed to explain the existence of these mahjong parlours.

The red light district a.k.a. Portland Street. It was nothing spectacular especially to someone who has visited Geylang in Singapore. Talk about selling sex in your face–Singapore beats Hong Kong pants-down (pun fully intended)! I guess Singapore would like to beat Hong Kong in any way possible.

More shopping at Temple Street. I was not impressed though as this night market was a very small one. I guess the interesting thing about this place is the plethora of food stalls lining the street.

I had supper with my housemate in Hong Kong at Mido Café, the location where the iconic award-winning movie “Infernal Affairs” was shot. Well I wouldn’t know if my friend hadn’t told me that bit of trivia. The food was not all that great though.

That is all for now and more pictures will follow this post. After sharing the standard vacation pictures in chronological order, I will then upload the more interesting pictures. As for the definition of “interesting”, you would have to stay tuned to find out!