Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hong Kong Part 1 – Kowloon Area

Hong Kong primarily consists of three main territories: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories which include the Islands; the largest of these islands is Lantau Island on which the Hong Kong International Airport is located.

From the airport my daughter and I boarded the Airport Bus A21 that took us into Kowloon where we had booked a room in a hostel.  Inspite of the specific instructions given by the hostel managers regarding the bus stop we should get off at, we somehow missed the stop and had to walk back a few blocks. We made sure that my son, who was arriving the next day from mainland China, did not make the same mistake.

We stayed at the Maple Leaf Guesthouse in Chung King Mansions. From our internet research, we were aware of Chung King Mansions’ (mostly negative) reputation. Nevertheless, the Maple Leaf Guesthouse seemed the ideal place to stay because of its convenient location (along Nathan Road) and its price. In addition, the reviews about the hostel itself were mostly good so we decided to go for it. We would be out during the day anyway, returning late at night. When we got to the building, we were indeed quite shocked; there were individuals who approached us with offers to stay at this or that hostel and the ground floor was generally chaotic and intimidating. We spent some time going through the maze of busy hallways before finally locating the elevator; it took a while for the very slow elevator to reach the 12th floor. Once at the hostel itself, things were better; the managers were very friendly and helpful and the room was indeed very clean although quite small. The ground floor just took some getting used to but it was generally alright.

Getting around Hong Kong is easy and very convenient because of the MTR (Mass Transit Railway). Since we were going to be moving around a lot, we decided to buy the Octopus Card instead of purchasing tickets for each journey.

There are so many things to do and places to see in Hong Kong but we only had five full days so we had to prioritize and plan our itinerary well.

Kowloon Area

Hong Kong is indeed a haven for shoppers. One can choose to go to the shopping malls, department stores and outlets or hit the street markets. I prefer the latter; it’s so much more exciting and haggling is fun. Mong Kok is a major shopping district especially for those looking for bargains. There are even specialty streets such as Cheung Sha Wan Road (Fashion Street-wholesale), Fa Yuen Street (Sneakers and sportswear Street), Tung Choi Street (Ladies’ market, although other merchandise are also sold here), Temple Street night market (also known as Men’s Street but not limited to men’s merchandise). The flea market at Apliu Street and adjacent streets sells almost everything.   

Malls and Luxury brands stores

Temple Street night market

Fashion Street

Ladies market and Sneakers street

Food stores
Apliu Street flea market

Kowloon Park is a great place to relax and unwind, offering an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. There are lots of beautiful gardens, ponds, fountains and paved walks; there is also an aviary. There is a children’s playground as well as several swimming pools and a sports center. Many people come here to stroll, jog, exercise or just sit and read under the shade.

Kowloon Park

The area along Victoria Harbor has many interesting sights; the Hong Kong  Cultural Center and the nearby Clock Tower,  the Hong Kong Space Museum, and the Hong Kong Museum of Arts. There is a fantastic display of lights (“Symphony of Lights”) every night that can be viewed from the promenade along the harbor. The Avenue of Stars is also on the promenade. 

The Clock Tower

Hong Kong Cultural Center

Cultural Center, Museum of Arts, Space Museum

Symphony of Lights

Avenue of Stars
Victoria Harbor by day

Victoria Harbor at night

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