Hong Kong: Local Life Tour of Hong Kong Full Day Excursion
For this day experience, I decided to use public transport, accompanied by an expert local guide, rather than a private vehicle, firstly because I know I would get the chance to actually have a real feeling of the city, and secondly because the option by private car was particularly costly. That day my local expert guide was Paul.
The experience started with Paul collecting me at Tseung Kwan o, at The Papillons, a fairly new quarter in the New Territories of Hong Kong, with large residential buildings, where my pretty cousin home is located. Paul was punctual, so we set off for a full day of adventures since 9 am. In the beginning, I was slightly concerned about the protest so I did not take my son with me on this one.
We travelled east using the MTR, Mass Transit Railway system, which is the standard mode of transport used. This system has 11 metro lines and 93 stations in the metropolitan area. Its “oyster card” London equivalent is called “Octopus” which can also be used to pay for purchases in shops around the city; users can top it up with money as they go.
Business District and City Centre
Our first stop was Quarry Bay Station to have a look at some of the highest buildings in the Central business district, such as the ICC with 118 floors. The area is vast, overwhelming, hectic, and pretty much, just like any other big city district centre in the world.
We passed by the famous and allegedly “world’s longest outdoor continuous escalator”, which seems to be commonplace to visit and well used by locals to travel up to the hilly streets of Hong Kong. It crosses an altitude of over 135 meters. It has become a sort of a top tourist attraction, so it is easy to find several mini-markets, shops, and restaurants along the way. We also passed by a trams stop as well, a heritage left from the British rule back in 1904, and that is still in used, carrying over 200 thousand people daily.
We then continued walking along Hollywood Road, which I learnt that is something like the Soho area in Hong Kong. Over where we visited the former Central Police Station, called Tai Kwun. Paul told me that this station was completed in 1864, but many additions were also constructed until 1919. I found it a fascinating and educational visit.
The premises were spotless, layout clear and well-organized to explain the country history, well worth a visit. The complex has been converted into the museum, as a reminder of the British colonial heritage. The area covers two open squares with trendy bars, restaurants, and art galleries.
There are several popular markets in Kowloon, but Paul recommended to visit some smaller ones, which I found busy and full of all kind of souvenirs and merchandise, bazaar-style, nothing much to say about those.
Man Mo Temple
We then continue along Holloway road to arrive at Man Mo Temple, one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most famous temples. As I entered, I had an ambience of calm and peace with relaxing smoky aroma coming from the giant incense coils hanging from the ceiling. The temple is adorned with several ceramic figures and wood carvings as well as various other crafts from traditional Chinese artistry. Once inside, I had the chance to give thanks for this fantastic trip. I also prayed to the gods for some good fortune. High predictions came into my reading… So I am now looking forward to those!
Man Mo Temple is really a compound of three for three purposes: The left is the Man Mo Temple where the God of Literature and God of Martial Arts are worshipped. The middle is Lit Shing Kung, this one is dedicated to all heavenly gods. And the last one is Kung so, the place where communities get together to resolve any conflicts. The temple is a Grade I Historic Building in Hong Kong as it showcases traditional craftsmanship.
Aberdeen fishermen village
We then took the local bus towards the south of Hong Kong Island to the Aberdeen Fishermen village. Along the way, we passed by a subway were the main signs, posters and various expression political protest expressions, Paul told me that they call it the “Lennon walk”.
Upon arrival at the village, I found an incredible contrast as we passed various multi-million luxury yachts and high skyscrapers alongside the fishing boats and families living on their sampans. A curious disparity of the old and the new.
We took a boat ride to arrive for lunch aboard the famous Jumbo Kingdom Floating Restaurant. The food was delicious, and plenty of vegan choice for me. The service was decent without being outstanding since we had to wait for a table for nearly 30 minutes.
After lunch, we took a sampan boat ride around the harbour for about twenty minutes which I found relaxing and picturesque.
Next visit was The Tin Hau Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, who is revered by fishermen and those who spend their working lives at sea. Few homeless people were begging by the door, which was quite surprising for me.
As I walked through the streets of the city, I was surprised, because we had been walking for hours, taking buses, trains, boats, etc. and I must say that during all that time, I did not see a single demonstration of the so-called “protests”. Paul told me there were loads of fake news out in the media. I can imagine that if China had broken into Hong Kong with tanks, as per in various fake stories this would have caused panic. However, this was not the case at all; everyone seemed to be perfectly fine to my eyes; that was my perception anyway. Bear in mind this was back in August 2019, so for the fact of current reality …I can’t be sure…
I was very grateful as Paul was kind, knowledgeable and very patient. He coped well with me, always taking photos and doing mini clips. I learnt a lot about Hong Kong culture, and I appreciated a lot of his guidance. In the beginning, I thought this day experience with him was quite expensive. However, by the end of my stay in Hong Kong, I came to understand now that life in Hong Kong, it is indeed costly as well.
On another note, I was amazed to find that spoken English in Hong Kong is quite poor, and several people around town do not even talk a little bit. I found this surprising given his British background. We finished the day at 6pm, tired and happy of the great insights provided by Paul.
Out and about the city nightlife
HKG Kowloon Hotel
As per my regular “feed two birds with one scone” approach to travel, I took advantage to do some hotels inspections in Hong Kong to feedback to my colleagues back in the UK.
We visited this hotel with my cousin since it has a great central and accessible location near Nathan road, surrounded by trendy shops and restaurants. It is also near the famous Victoria harbour. My feedback is that I found it too big for my taste (over 500 rooms), the personal service is poor. The hotel does not have a fitness centre or swimming pool. Instead, they outsource them from the YMCA building next door.
The rooms are dark and not appealing at all, with basic amenities and quite an eerie feeling. If you want to have a drink and dinner, then I can recommend, as has two restaurants, and one of them is a buffet, which seemed to be a perfect choice, (GBP55pp). However, I don’t recommend staying here.
We then enjoyed a night walk along the hectic streets, stopping by at various street where I found a nice surprise, a sculpture by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, “The Reclining Woman”, located right outside the Peninsula Hotel.
Lastly, we finished with flying colours at the night with some salsa dancing at a local club near the hectic Wyndham Street.
Clear Waters Bay Beach
Next day we enjoyed a family day out with the kid at the small and cosy Clear Waters Bay sandy beach, definitely off beaten track where we spend a beautiful bizarre sunny-showery-cloudy day at the beach.
Airport & Good Bye Hong Kong
Next day, we were off to the airport for our next destination, Tokyo. I was lucky to find a good local bus service from Tseung Kwan o, which was extremely cheap, GBP3 per person, rather than the private taxi which could have cost me at least GBP100. The airport in Hong Kong is on the other extreme of where I was staying. Hong Kong International Airport, HKG, built on a piece of reclaimed land on the island of Chek Lap Kok, this is why is also known by this name. Its size is similar to the one in Heathrow. The airport is a significant hub for destinations in China and the rest of Asia.
This mini footage, where my little one is happily walking around is from the Interior of Midfield Concourse, which is located to the west of Terminal 1 between the two existing runways. We reached it via the underground automated people mover. Hong Kong Airlines, our airline of the day (we are travelling to Tokyo) has been using this space since its opening in 2015.
“Life in Hong Kong transcends cultural and culinary borders, such that nothing is truly foreign and nothing doesn’t belong.” Peter Jon Lindberg.
Thanks a lot for reading.