I had some time off again at the end of June this year and I decided to go to Hong Kong. My flight left on Saturday, the 22nd and I was in Hong Kong until the 25th of June. Hong Kong was a very busy, exciting place, so I had a really good time.
I arrived late on Saturday and I was tired by the time I reached the small hostel I would be staying at. It was called the Dragon Hostel and it was located in Mong Kok. The room was incredibly small, but the staff was very helpful and I had my own bathroom, so I couldn't complain very much. Anyway, by the time I had set my stuff down I was hungry, so I went out to find something to eat. The staff recommended a small 24 hour eatery just down the street that was basically like McDonalds except with Chinese food. Since I didn't know of any better options than that upon arrival, I decided to go there to eat.
When I got there the place was pretty full, so I ended up sharing a booth with two young people around my age. Their names were Candra and Justin, both of whom spoke really good English. I got some recommendations from them of things to eat and places to see. The other thing I got from them very clearly is that people in Hong Kong don't consider themselves Chinese. At all. In fact, they spent a good deal of the conversation complaining about the Chinese tourists and how awful they were. It was kind of funny to listen to as my Japanese students complain about the exact same thing.
Anyway, after I ate I ended up going to bed and waking up early the next morning. My first stop of the day was the Peak Tram, which goes up to the highest point in Hong Kong. It's the perfect place to take pictures of the city below. It's also a great place to get souvenirs as there were floors upon floors of different merchandise leading up to the top.
The Peak Tram ride itself provided a nice view, even if it did take over a half hour of waiting in line to ride. The way up is very steep and trees cover most of the landscape. Apparently there are stairs you can take to the top, but I didn't see them and I don't know why you'd want to take them unless you really liked hiking.
Once I got off the tram, I made my way to the top of the building. It was a little rainy that morning and there were clouds covering some parts of the city, but I still got some good pictures. In the center of the observatory, there was information about the Peak, along with a few photographs. Apparently, the Peak actually used to be a place where pirates lived. Once the pirates were beaten and kicked out, it became a place for the very wealthy to live. I guess to this day it's still a place where only the really wealthy live.
After I was finished taking pictures, I went back down to wander through the various shops. There was a restaurant at the Peak called Bubba Gump Shrimp, which I thought was amusing as I really liked that movie. Eventually, I took the tram back down and headed to my next destination.
I went back to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) station from the Central station to get to the Hong Kong Museum of History. To be honest, most of my time was spent walking around TST to get to various tourist locations. It's a huge station with a lot of exits and I got to know it very well during my trip. Anyway, I took exit A2 out and walked for ten minutes to get to the history museum.
The Hong Kong Museum of History covers four hundred years of history for the small city and it's huge. It has eight different exhibitions and two huge floors full of information and artifacts. I think I could have spent my whole day there and still not have been able to read through all the information. As it was, I still managed to get quite of bit out of my visit though my Chinese history is woefully lacking.
The museum started about 400,000,000 years ago and showed how Hong Kong was formed from volcanoes and erosion. The exhibit showed the old forests of Hong Kong with manikins of animals that are now largely extinct. From there, the exhibit changed to the Neolithic area and showed the life of the Yue tribe, who were the first human residents of Hong Kong. There were some knives and other craftsmanship in the cases that I thought was pretty well made considering the time period.
The next to exhibits dealt with immigration, unification and lifestyles in Hong Kong. Eventually, four major ethnic groups came to settle in Hong Kong mostly made up of fisherman, farmers and traders. There were plenty of artifacts and statues from different festivals that were interesting to look at.
The last few sections dealt with European trade, the Opium Wars, British takeover, WWII and the Japanese Occupation and modern day Hong Kong. These exhibits were all on the upper floors and there was a lot to see. I knew a bit more about the history in these sections and these were the exhibits that I enjoyed the most. There were a lot of videos in the WWII sections, along with old photographs. There was one last video at the very end of the exhibit that showed the ceremony of Hong Kong being returned to China's jurisdiction. Once I finished watching that, I exited the museum and went back to TST.
After I got back to the station, I walked to a different exit and came out onto Ashley Road. This is a street with lots of restaurants on it, both Chinese and international. The Chinese restaurants had cooked geese in the windows with the heads still attached. This and other full sized cooked birds became a sight that I got used to as I walked along the streets of Hong Kong. Once I got something to eat, I went back to the TST station and headed for Temple Street.
Temple Street holds a bazaar in the evenings called the Night Market. It's basically a Chinese black market where you can pick up cheap and pirated goods. I definitely saw some fake PSPs video game consoles in some of the booths as I walked around. A lot of the stores didn't allow pictures, so I was only able to get a few shots. There were plenty of funny T-shirts in the bazaars, one of the most common being Obama in a communist uniform alongside other communists. I'm guessing this is in reaction to the Snowden incident, but who knows.
I walked all the way through Temple Street and then I headed back to Mong Kok to turn in for the evening. The next day, I headed back to the TST station to see the Avenue of Stars. This is basically the Hong Kong version of the Hollywood stars. It's located at the waterfront and it has information about Hong Kong cinema, along with several statues. I got a picture of a big Bruce Lee statue, along with pictures of names I recognized. Unfortunately, around this time is when my camera battery died. Since I didn't have my charger with me, I could no longer take pictures.
I finished walking along the Avenue of Stars and then I visited the Clock Tower by the pier. The Clock Tower was a monument left over from British rule and it was part of an old station that used to be at that location. The station and the Clock Tower were damaged during WWII, eventually leading the station to be moved to a different location. I wish I could have gotten a picture of it, but again, my camera died so I couldn't.
Since I could no longer take pictures, I decided to do a little shopping. Mostly I just walked around the huge department stores and mall areas they have in Hong Kong. There are stores of every kind on almost every street I visited. On the crowded streets, most of the stores don't really have any doors. They just have large open entry ways that allow you to walk in and out of their entry ways very easily. It also means the air conditioning blows out into the hot streets, which was nice as it was very humid in Hong Kong when I went there.
I left Hong Kong on Tuesday morning, but I have to say I had a really good time in Hong Kong. It was a great trip and I would love to go again.