Hong Kong, China

Hong KongHong Kong was a busy and colourful city. I was surprised by how modern (and expensive) it was there. Two days is not a long time so I’ll keep this post short (so the story goes…)

Day 63 – 66, Hong Kong, China – a busy, modern metropolis

On January 28, we arrived at Hong Kong International Airport. We took the Airport Express shuttle train to Tsim Sha Tsui where we then took the shuttle bus downtown. I looked after our (by this stage very excessive) luggage while Meg walked around and inspected various buildings for accommodation. There were various “mansions” and “guesthouses” but in reality, they were single apartments that were subdivided into maybe 10 or more tiny rooms and charged out at something like US$30 per night. So we got our tiny cot room, little more than a queen bed surrounded by walls and a closet that had a bathroom inside.

Somehow this was a novelty for us, and it was only for two nights so it was cool. Plus we had cable TV. Even with this entertainment at our fingertips, we felt the need to leave our diminutive enclosure for most of our time there and explore this busy cosmopolitan city. This is pretty easy in Hong Kong as the mass transit infrastructure is very well developed, with the MTR, KCR and Airport Express railway systems, buses, trams and taxis.

Chilling at the crib
Our tiny room in Hong Kong.

MTR Subway
MTR Subway.

Hong Kong Streets
Streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.

I was always under the impression that Hong Kong was a cheap destination, but this seems to be an outdated perception. There are many other cheaper shopping destinations in Southeast Asia. I’m told Hong Kong became a lot more expensive when it was returned to China in 1997. Shopping for some things (some electronic goods, fashion) in Hong Kong is still relatively cheaper than Australia, but I found food and beer to be as expensive or in some places even more expensive than Sydney (I’m talking Lan Kwai Fong), and accommodation isn’t very affordable for shoestringers such as ourselves.

In fact, many things about Hong Kong reminded me of Sydney. I thought Hong Kong would be like a big dirty Chinatown, but instead it is clean, efficient and modern. Notable differences to Sydney are there are a lot more high-rise buildings and high-density residential developments, and as I said earlier, they have very good public transportation (very much like what Sydney doesn’t have). Hong Kong also seems to be a diverse melting pot of races and cultures, noticably with people of Chinese, British, Indian and African descent, and of Buddhist, Muslim and Christian faiths.

On the second night we were there, we went out to the over-priced ex-pat drinking and dining area of Lan Kwai Fong, obviously not knowing any better. We ended up going to a decent Indian restaurant on the cheaper side of things, and after some good curry and knocking back some Kingfishers, we thought we’d go to a couple of the pubs around the place. We ended up shooting pool and knocking back quite a few more beers at the Kangaroo Bar (if my memory serves me), an Australian themed place, seemingly without any Australian staff or patrons. Here we bumped into our English yobbo friend from the weird pub that wasn’t really a pub in Hoi An, Vietnam. This was a real trip for him. Turns out he’s an ex-pat Brit living in Hong Kong. Anyway, we chatted to him and some other friendly people there until he was sufficiently drunk and decided to go somewhere else. We also chatted a fair bit to the kindly bartender there, another ex-pat Brit. Well kind of, he’s what they call a BNO, a British National (Overseas). He spoke perfect Cantonese and was something like a third generation Brit living in Hong Kong, which, he explained, put him in the unique position of not being Chinese nor British. He said under current law he was unable to gain residency in Britain or China. I guess he’s a full Hong Konger then. Anyway I thought that was pretty interesting.

Taking the shot...
At the pub, Lan Kwai Fong.

I really enjoyed the dazzling night lights and crazy in-your-face style of the advertising in Hong Kong City. I also thought I’d mention that while we were there, our respiratory illness came to a head, but at some of the subway stations they have these chain-stores that sell medicinal teas (and dimsum!) that really help with colds and flus, I thoroughly recommend them. Also while we were there, walking by the harbour, a lady on a boat offered a cheap tour of the harbour, which was a pretty good way to kill half an hour.

McDonalds Hong Kong special
McDonalds Hong Kong special. This poster features a photo of a person dressed as a pig kicking a person dressed as a dog in the bum.

Arty bank
A bank decorated with a mosaic of 50,000 credit cards.

Meg on a boat in the Harbour, Hong Kong
On a boat in Hong Kong Harbour.

So that was Hong Kong. On January 30 we took our longest flight so far, across the Pacific over to San Francisco and began our USA adventures. Ahead of us lay long road trips, driving big cars on the wrong side of the road, catching up with my mother for the first time in six years (and Megan meeting my mother for the first time), meeting my American cousins, visiting Las Vegas, Texas and the South by Southwest festival. More on that next time

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  1. Awesome stuff. I KNEW there was something outside of Hong Kong airport!

    Sooo…. did you see any tech jobs up for grabs?

  2. err… no. But yeah there is stuff outside the airport, though I must say the airport is pretty cool!

  3. Nice post.

    Just wanted to say thanks heaps for the postcard, it arrived yesterday. I low postcards!

  4. Gee those streets look pretty empty for Hong Kong?! It looks pretty exciting and the advertising there looks hilarious, did you spot any bad engrish? lol :)

    Many thanks to you and Megan for the two postcards! They arrived yesterday as well, it was a lovely surprise! I like how they have Bolivian stamps too. :) I can imagine how busy you guys are. Can’t wait to read up on your USA trip! Hope your trip plans in Ecuador are going OK. Take care.

  5. Great, looks like a bunch of our postcards arrived. Yay!

    Elly, surprisingly little engrish, Hong Kong is probably one of the better English speaking places in Asia. Every other country you would read the English translations on a menu and it was beyond a joke… but I’m sure in some of the backwater places in HK you would definitely find some corkers…

  6. More thanks for great postcards from us too (the thanks that is, not the postcards)

    I wanna go to Hong Kong too now. The list is getting stupidly long, you guys better stop making the rest of the world look so damn attractive.