Thursday, December 5, 2013

One day in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the biggest hubs in Asia - not only as a financial center, but also as an airport. It has been a transit point for me for some of my travels.

I had always wanted to visit the place when one of my good friends Aashu would be in town. But as luck would have it, it was not possible during my first couple of sojourns with the city - he either was not in town or absolutely busy.

However, during one of my return journeys, I managed to find some time to spend in the city, with Aashu for company. The time available to me, though, was very limited.

I was reaching HK around midnight and I had a flight to catch the next day at 6.30 pm.

After completing all the formalities at the HK airport (one of the smoothest immigrations), I rushed to Aashu's place which was very near Hong Kong station, the last stop of the airport metro.

He was there to receive me and we walked to his home. After chatting for some minutes, I asked him what the plan would be given that I had such little time to spend.

He immediately shot back asking, "Trek pe chalte hai (lets go on a trek)". I asked, "Seriously? Now?". It was then that I  realized that he was serious. I thought, why not and we left immediately.

We were going to the peak via Hatton road, which is also known as the morning trail (or alteast thats what I think it is called).

We began by starting to walk up the streets of Hong Kong. Hong Kong, though situated next to the sea is basically built on hillocks. Hence, the walk up the streets was a steep one and in about 30 minutes or so, we reached the start of the trail.

The peak was another 4-5 kms away. The arrangements all along the way were as good as they could be on a trekking trail - well lit and availability of benches at regular intervals.

The first 2-3 kilometers passed quite smoothly. Then the full week of work fatigue and lack of sleep started to hit me. Taking 2 or 3 breaks on the well-provided benches, we reached the top in an hour or so and the view was simply breathtaking.

The view from the peak - Hong Kong and Kowloon covered with a light cloud cover

The peak provided a great panoramic view of both Hong Kong and Kowloon. What made the view even more beautiful was effect of the clouds lit up by the city lights. Both of us just sat there for 30 minutes catching up on the past couple of years.

Then we decided to take a taxi (yes you can also reach there by road) back to Aashu's place. We reached around 5 am and decided to have a short nap.

We got up at 10 and were ready to leave by 11 am. I just wanted to chill by the bay side and hence we decided to go to Kowloon side as that supposedly has better hangout places by the bay.

The Kowloon side
Took a ferry towards Kowloon and were greeted by a huge yellow duck near the ferry station. Initially, I could not get why such a huge crowd had assembled around a huge toy floating in the water.

The joy spreading piece of art - Giant yellow duck 
I was then told it was supposedly a piece of art, aimed at spreading happiness. As a loyal tourist, I got a photo clicked in front of the duck as well.

We then walked along the bay towards the avenue of stars - which is Hong Kong's answer to the Hollywood boulevard. Though I could barely make out any names - Bruce Lee and Jet Li were the names I could recognize - it would be a great place for someone more informed about the local film industry compared to me.

The status on the Avenue of stars
There were a number of interesting statues along the way as well and we had great fun posing as/in front of them.
Bruce Lee - not quite 
Then there as only one thing left to do - the thing that we had come for. Sit in a restaurant along the bay - have a great lunch with a mug of beer. It was then that I  had the feeling, "Yahi life hai (this is life)"

It was time to leave and end my short trip to this great city.

The view from the restaurant where we decided to chill out
While taking the train back to Aashu's place, I could see posters showing a number of shows/displays that could be worth visiting of one has enough time. I have since decided that I would come to HK with a little more time the next time around so that I could also experience the culture of the city.

Useful tips
1. Do explore the culture of the city - there are various options everyday from operas to various forms of dance performances
2. Chill out by the bay in the afternoon

Must visit places
1. Avenue of stars
2. The much more happening Kowloon side of the city
3. Do explore the amazing trekking options available

View the Photo Gallery

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