Visiting Hong Kong had always been one of the top items on my bucket list- I wanted to experience the culture, see first-hand the every day life there, and of course do some sight-seeing along the way- and that is exactly what I did. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity, where I had the most amazing time with my friend and learned so much about Hong Kong during my one-week stay. It truly gave me a broader perspective of the world, and I highly recommend anyone to visit this exciting city if the opportunity arises too.
As I documented my travels on my YouTube Channel just like my Singapore Trip, I received many questions every day about my experience, such as how I planned my itinerary, where I stayed, and places that I would recommend. So, that is why I will be sharing and explaining the details of my trip in this blog post by each day, which can hopefully help many of you reading this with planning your next trip to Hong Kong- or inspire you to visit there one day! Whatever the case, I am sure that you will probably, just like me, fall in love with Hong Kong ♡
Firstly, here is a general overview:
- When: 30th January 2018 to 6th February 2018
- Airlines: We flew with Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Hong Kong and booked my tickets around the end of November 2017.
- Accommodation: We stayed in the Stanford Hotel, located in the Mongkok area. Although it wasn’t too close to the Mongkok MTR station, it was still a pleasant walk and the general location couldn’t have been more convenient.
- Transportation: The MTR system in Hong Kong was undoubtedly very efficient and convenient. With how easy and fast to get around it was, we used it every single day. You can purchase a transport card at any major MTR station or convenience store, or pre-purchase it here. Also, our legs came in very handy too 🙂
- Itinerary: We had a brief outline of each day planned before we left off, with the main places we wanted to see booked in to a specific date, and other things to-do written in but not a ‘must’. We wanted to ensure that we enjoyed our holiday rather than rush it, so most of the time we did go to the places we had originally planned to, but also went with the flow and changed some things as the day approached. How we planned our itinerary was quite simple too- on each day we generally visited places located in the same or nearby area.
- Weather: We happened to be in Hong Kong during an usually cold period of time, where the average was around 8-10 degrees Celsius daily. Luckily for us, it only rained on the first day, with the rest of the time cloudy and/or sunny.
- Packing: Let’s just say that I was not very well prepared for the usually cold weather in Hong Kong. I brought with me a few pairs of jeans, comfy shoes and long-sleeved tops which definitely came into good use, however I did not have one thick jacket with me, which I highly advise to pack if you ever visit in the Winter.
- Language: There are three main languages used in Hong Kong: English, Cantonese and Standard Mandarin. You can get by fine knowing only English, however it may be hard to communicate with some locals as Cantonese is most widely spoken, especially among the elderly.
- Expenses: Overall, I personally found Hong Kong to be slightly cheaper than Australia in terms of food, however other aspects are always dependent on a variety of factors. Here are some things you should factor into your budget (if you have one), aside from flight tickets and accommodation:
- Transportation– The MRT is definitely the most budget friendly way to get around, however you can also use public buses, ferries, taxis, etc. You can pre-purchase the Octopus Card here so you can collect it upon arriving.
- Food– High end popular restaurants will be more costly than local restaurants. Local food is usually the most budget friendly. You can also find 7/11 stores in almost every corner, which are handy if you need a snack.
- Entry tickets– I highly recommend researching ticket prices, if there are any, of the places you would like to visit before you go to Hong Kong. I used klook.com to purchase some beforehand and it made it a much faster process to enter.
- Shopping– This is entirely dependant on what you want to buy and from where. Hong Kong is home to many shopping malls and areas, from high end to street markets, and variant in terms of what you can buy as well. I am trying to live more minimally, so I didn’t spend much on this area.
- Emergency– Always have some spare emergency cash with you just in case. Unexpected events can happen at any time when you travel, so it’s best to be prepared than not at all.
- Phone– If you would like to have some sort of phone/wifi connection while you’re there, you may want to purchase a SIM card when you arrive or book a wifi device rental beforehand. I booked my wifi device on kkday.com. Another option is Klook.
I hope that gave you a solid brief understand of my trip to Hong Kong! Now, I will take you through our itinerary for each day 🙂
At around 2pm on the 30th January 2018, my friend and I landed in Hong Kong after taking off from Changi Airport in Singapore earlier that day. The first thing that surprised me before even landing was just how many boats I saw docked on the harbour! Despite the cloudiness, the mysterious mountains in the background made for a beautiful welcome to this region.
After exchanging some money, collecting our wifi device from the counter, and purchasing our Octopus cards (Hong Kong’s version of a transport pass) in the airport, which all thankfully went smoothly, we hopped on to the MTR bound for Mongkok Station. Looking back, we both agree that it wasn’t our smartest move and should have organised for a hotel shuttle pick-up instead, as we had to transfer stations twice with our heavy luggage, and going up and down escalators, or finding elevators, were not too easy to do. Once we arrived at Mongkok Station, things got a little more complex as we missed the sign for the elevator, went up an escalator instead, only to realise that we were ‘stuck’ as only stairs were left for the exits (and there was no way we could carry our suitcases up that). Looking like two lost penguins, we continued to pull our luggage around until we finally found a shopping mall, and took the escalator inside to exit to the ground floor. Our adventure didn’t end there though- because we were now disoriented, it took a while to figure out which way to walk to our hotel, and it was at this point that I realised we definitely should not have taken the MTR. All I can say is, pulling luggage almost half my weight along uneven and bumpy footpaths, crowded with people, with a thin jacket on amidst the chilly weather, wasn’t the most comfortable journey ever- but, after powering through around 10 minutes, we finally made it to the Stanford Hotel! By this point, I could only laugh at how ‘interesting’ our day had been so far. It was just past 5pm now, and not having had a meal since the morning, we both decided to head out for an early dinner straight after checking in to our cute little room. *
That day, another mistake that I personally realised I had made was that I did not bring any thick or warm jackets with me- something else I sure chuckled at! I can promise that I did my research on Hong Kong’s weather before I came, however even the locals describe the temperatures we experienced as very odd and unusually cold. So that evening, the first thing I did after walking out of our hotel was buy some gloves from the Ladies Market, which happened to be located right next to the hotel! It was the number one place that I wanted to visit most in Hong Kong, so that was a nice discovery. As we shivered and linked arms in the frosty air, we continued to walk around after a satisfying meal in a Mexican restaurant (they had the first vegan-option I saw), and eventually found a store where I spotted a very comfy, thick and cosy over-sized white jacket. I wasn’t too keen on purchasing it at first due to its price, but this jacket, was without the greatest doubt, the best purchase that I have ever made in regards to clothing. By the end of my trip, after wearing the jacket every single day, I came to truly appreciate its quality as it had kept me warm from morning to night, even through temperatures that plummeted to 7 degrees Celsius. As a Melbournian, this was certainly weather that I was not accustomed to, which says a lot about my new favourite jacket 🙂
For the rest of the evening, we walked around and explored the Mongkok area near our hotel, which was definitely an experience that made up for our rather adventurous day earlier on. The busy streets lined with people, signs and banners decorated with colourful flashing lights, smell of local street food, sounds of chatter, and general vibrant atmosphere, all added for one of the best sights of night life that I have ever experienced anywhere in the world. Consequently, I had also temporarily forgotten about the cold! We both immediately fell in love with this scene, and took our time to let it all soak in before we returned back to the hotel to rest.
As I lay down in bed that night, I remember reflecting upon the day that had passed. Despite the few mishaps, I am grateful that it happened, as from a traveller’s perspective, it did make my trip all that more ‘genuine’ and ‘real’. Travelling isn’t always just highs- there are lows too, and something like this was bound to happen. We learned our lessons, laughed it off, and let it go. And although the cold was all that was on my mind during our first few hours in Hong Kong, I really couldn’t complain much for the rest of my trip, as being able to stay warm in clothes and under shelter is a blessing itself, and I am thankful that I had access to that.
*As we didn’t pay a deposit for our hotel in Singapore, we were not prepared for that in Hong Kong, however upon arriving into our hotel, we were told to pay a HK$800 each deposit. If you are planning to stay in this hotel, do prepare extra cash on hand as you will need to pay a deposit.
Our second day, or first full day, in Hong Kong was highlighted by lots of unique and picturesque sightseeing- all of which took my breath away- and I definitely could not have asked for a better way to begin our journey here!
After a slight sleep-in that morning, getting ready, and having breakfast in the hotel room, we headed off to visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery- the first item on our itinerary. As we walked to Mongkok Station that morning to travel to the Monastery, we were completely taken aback as to the stark contrast between morning and night! Ladies Market seemed almost unrecognisable as the tents had been taken down, and the streets were much more quiet. Once we exited out of Sha Tin Station, a short walk on the footpath eventually led us to the entrance of this one-of-a-kind Buddhist temple located on top of a hill. As we made our way up 430 steps, the rain started to drizzle, however it didn’t stop us from admiring the life-sized golden painted Buddha statues accompanying us along the both sides of the path, from start to end. I couldn’t believe that all of the statues were different from each other, each with their own individuality, and all making various facial expressions. Reaching and walking into the main temple was equally as fascinating too, as inside, lining the walls were really more than 10,000 miniature golden statues! Outside, there were also other temples, halls and a nine-storey pagoda, however we didn’t get to visit those.
At 3:30pm, we needed to be at Hong Kong’s Central Station for a tour we would be going on, so after leaving the Monastery and taking the MTR again, we decided to have lunch near that station. Conveniently, there was a vegetarian/vegan cafe called Mana! Fast Slow Food a short walk away, so we were both happy to grab a meal there and also take the chance to warm up inside. Not only was the food delicious, full of flavour and affordable, but I also really enjoyed the atmosphere in this compact yet cosy eatery, and they had many vegan options from salads to desserts. If you ever come to Central Station, I highly recommend checking this modern cafe out.
The timing couldn’t have been better when the rain stopped and sky cleared just as we were about to start the second part of our sight-seeing day. Before we arrived in Hong Kong, we had booked the Peak Tram + Sky Pass Roundtrip ticket on Klook, so we were given instruction to meet our guide at Exit K of Central Station for the day and time we booked those tickets for. I was beyond excited as I couldn’t wait to experience the tram and see some views of Hong Kong! By 3:30pm, a huge group of people including us had checked-in with the two tour guides, who gave us a Klook sticker each, and we begun our short walk to the entrance of the Peak Tram. Luckily, as we had already booked our tram tickets prior to arriving, we skipped the long queue already there and waited to board the tram immediately. It wasn’t very long until our turn came, and although I was shoved and pushed by eager tourists in front of the door wanting to get on, I somehow managed and finally took a seat inside. As I observed the tram, I noticed that it had a very unique British-inspired wooden interior, though what amazed me the most was how steep some sections of the ride up to the peak were! I really enjoyed that part, along with the stunning views from the windows on the way up of course. After 5 minutes or so, we reached Victoria Peak.
We arrived into a multi-level furnished building, greeted by many colourful souvenir shops bustling with tourists. As our tickets included the Sky Terrace 428 Pass, we went straight up the escalators, all the way to the top, where the 360 degree Sky Terrace deck was located. I was incredibly blown away (and yes, almost literally blown away by the wind) by how beautiful the view was of the skyline decorated with tall buildings and friendly mountains. I simply cannot put into words my amazement, and the fact that I was in Hong Kong really sunk in at that moment. This experience truly allowed me to see the development of this region and how densely populated it is, really opening my eyes to a new perspective. As we were there, some clouds also floated by into us, which made things even more exciting!
It took us about an hour to make our way back to Mongkok through walking and taking the MTR, and by then night started to fall. We had a warm and comforting dinner in a local restaurant, which I should add that speaking Mandarin really came in handy for, and explored around Mongkok once again to enjoy some night life. We just couldn’t get enough of it! The streets were transformed into the same atmosphere as last night, filled with people of all ages, and once we decided to call it a day, we headed back to the hotel to rest.
Our third day in beautiful Hong Kong saw us do all kinds of exploring on our feet and see a little bit of every cultural corner this region has to offer. From walking in peaceful gardens to browsing seemingly endless stores in shopping malls contrasted to the nearby night markets, it was without doubt another great day in our trip.
The first place we ventured off to after a nice rise and shine in the morning was the Nan Lian Garden, a classical Chinese garden located in Diamond Hill and just next to the Diamond Hill MTR Station. As soon as we entered into the space, I immediately fell in love with its Tang Dynasty-style design paired with the serene atmosphere. As you may know, I’ve always been fascinated by anything ancient-China, and because I rarely get to experience Chinese culture in this way, this had to be one of my favourite gardens in Hong Kong. The highlight inside was most certainly the bright red and orange pagoda floating in the middle of a still lake decorated by lily pads and unique Chinese plants. There was also a beautiful man-made waterfall a short walk away, as well as many oddly shaped rocks and wooden structures. Everything made for a wonderful start to the day.
Right next door was the popular Hollywood Plaza, so we had to take a look inside, and the similarity to Singapore’s shopping malls sure brought back some nice memories. Although half of the stores were not yet open as it was around noon, we still browsed around and even found a supermarket to spend some time in. I’m a ‘lover’ of Asian-styled desserts and snacks, so when I set my eyes upon some raw walnut and black bean slices, I had to get some to try. While we were still in the Plaza, we also had a warming lunch inside a restaurant we found, where I ordered a large bowl of veggie soup, papaya salad and a side of comforting rice. Generally, finding food as a vegan wasn’t that difficult in Hong Kong, however just like the day before, speaking at the very least Mandarin (I can’t speak Cantonese) does come in very useful.
In following our itinerary, we then headed off to Wong Tai Sin Temple after feeling satisfied from lunch. This was yet another stunning Taoist temple, crowded with both worshippers and tourists, with the smell and presence of incense strong in the air. The architecture was simply a wonder, and like always, it was the colours embellishing this shrine that stood out to me the most. Walking a little further up hill, we happened to find another garden called the Good Wish Garden, characterised by Chinese design again. We had a lovely walk around, taking in the peace and admiring the garden for what it was, and then took the MTR to our next stop.
After arriving at Tsim Tsa Shui Station, we made our way to Harbour City. I had heard prior that this was Hong Kong’s largest shopping mall, so naturally our curious selves had to go and check it out! Once we arrived, the grand size of this place became crystal clear to us. It seemed that no matter which direction we walked in, the shops kept on accompanying us, but they were definitely not for the budget-friendly traveller. To a certain extent, I was really taken by surprise as to how many high-end stores existed inside! We laughed as we quickly realised that aside from aimlessly walking around, there wasn’t much else for us to do there, so we walked into another mall nearby, also filled with people, and found the same food court we saw in Singapore- Food Republic! As we took a rest, I couldn’t’ help but get myself a bowl of a sweet Hong Kong-styled dessert called ‘8 treasures bowl’, containing 8 different kinds of ingredients such as dates, fungi, red beans, and barley. Delicious indeed 🙂
Our last stop for the day was Temple Street Night Market, located in You Ma Tei and not too far away from Harbour City. Once the sun started to set, we headed towards the market by MTR and foot, and whilst we arrived as the stalls started to set up, the narrow walkway was already filling up with people, especially tourists like ourselves. We took our time to explore the different goods being sold by the locals, from clothes to accessories to toys, and by the time night fell, we could see why this market is deemed as “the liveliest street night market” by Lonely Planet. The atmosphere was vibrant as red lanterns hanging up above us lit up the sky, and I could hear a lot of bargaining going on around me. I also joined in as I spotted a gift for my mum and grandma, in which speaking Mandarin came in extremely great for, and the lady running the stall really left an impression on me and she spoke so kindly and offered me a deal better than I was even asking for. It just goes to show how small acts of kindness can really brighten up someone’s day.
Once we covered the whole strip of the night market and were happy with our exploration, we decided to head back to the hotel and grab some dinner on the way. Near our hotel, I found a restaurant called Veggie Foods, a locally run vegan eatery with lots of different options, not to mention cheap as well, so I ordered a mushroom dish and devoured it right down in our hotel room. For the next few nights, it was literally all that I craved, because it was just so tasty! And that was how our third day unfolded.
Day 4 in Hong Kong was by far one of my most favourite days from our two-week trip, as well as one of my top highlights. It was a day so rich in cultural learning, new experiences, fun memories; all of which once again really broadened my perspective of the world and the life that I live.
Earlier than usual that morning, we got ready inside our hotel, braved through the chilly streets of Mongkok, and from there took the MTR to Tung Chung Station. And this was because we would be spending a day on Lantau Island! I remember feeling very pumped, as we would be going on another tour, doing lots of sight-seeing, and experiencing many new things. Before we came to Hong Kong, we had made a booking for the Lantau Cultural and Heritage Insight Tour on Klook for this specific date, and if you would ever like to visit Lantau Island, I highly encourage you to also book a ticket for this tour. This is because not only did we get to skip an hour’s worth of waiting time in the queue already present at the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car at 10am, we also had a guide who showed us around and explained certain cultural aspects of the island, as well as a bus to be transported around by. Every dollar I spent on this ticket was so well worth it, and again, I just couldn’t have asked for a more complete experience. It was truly unforgettable!
Our tour was scheduled to begin at 11:15am inside the Li Nong Tea House, so after a quick check-in at the Cable Car entrance around 10am, which was instructed to us by Klook, we lined up straight away in the cable car queue and hopped on about 15 minutes later. Although the weather that day was quite overcast, the journey from Tung Chung to almost the peak of Lantau Island was sensational and unforgettable. As eight of us sat inside, going higher and higher, and slightly being swung from side to side by the wind, we starred into the surrounding views with awe and wonder. The sea was so blue, and mountains so grand. I even caught sight of a few planes taking off from Hong Kong airport! The journey was also a lot longer than I expected- around 20-25 minutes, but no complaining here. As we touched down on the peak, a cluster of beautiful white Chinese-styled structures known as Ngong Ping Village greeted us, but even before that, we had immediately felt the sudden drop of temperature which almost made my lips hard to talk with! Given we were at a peak, it was no surprise, and I was just grateful that I wore my thick fluffy jacket.
Almost exactly on time, we met our tour guide inside the Li Nong Tea House, where about 15 people including us signed in with him and collected our Klook stickers. Our tour then began with a tea demonstration inside the Tea House, involving a lady showcasing Lantau Island’s renowned ‘Blooming Tea’. Straight after that, we were led to a bus which transported us to our next stop, Tai O Village. On the way, we drove up and down windy roads, observing more scenic views of the island as our guide explained some instructions and tried to make us laugh. Although he was hard to understand at times, he sure was humorous! Upon arriving, we were guided on a short walk through this village, where locals really live as evidenced by a primary school we saw nearby and housing made from steel. As the population of this island is only around 100,000 people, the village was quiet, small and compact, yet decorated with markets, local restaurants and bakeries. We then arrived at a river, where we hopped onto a boat and were taken on a tour through the village and a bit further out to the sea. The fast speed combined with an open boat meant that the wind sure hit us hard on the face, but I still tried to enjoy the ride as much as I could before we we dropped off at a local house on stilts by the river (which wasn’t occupied and I assume used just for tourism purposes). This really gave me some perspective on my life, as inside was small and cold with no heating, a complete contrast to my home back in Melbourne. Following that, our guide took us on another walk, and then at a certain point let us explore on our own after explaining where to meet him next. At the start of the tour, we were given coupons that we could spend on local snacks, so despite that I couldn’t find a vegan option, my friend got a coconut tart from a local bakery. We explored for a bit, taking everything in, and then met our guide back at the car park.
The next stop on our tour was a well-known attraction, the Po Lin Monastery. First we had to walk through the Ngong Ping Village again, where a few beautiful free roaming cows were being greeted by many tourists and cheekily trying to take a bite out of their food. Behind some lush greenery, we then arrived at the colourful Buddhist monastery bustling with people, which was also a lot bigger than I had anticipated. Through the incense-filled air, we explored around and appreciated its beauty, as well the interior of the main temple which was embellished with gold in every possible way, and housed 5 golden Buddha statues too. At that point, our guide had ended, and after saying goodbye, we walked our own way to the last stop, the Big Buddha. Now when I say big, I mean that this bronze statue was big. Even at the bottom of the flight of stairs, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Although the climb up appeared steep and long initially, it didn’t actually take too much effort or time to reach the top and foot of the Buddha, where the views were beyond picturesque. I was also so thankful that despite the windy weather, it didn’t rain. At the top, there was also a small museum underneath the statue, so we took a look inside before heading back down and towards the cable car.
We had to book a time slot to go back onto the cable car, so once we did that we still had some on our hands, which we used to walk around peaceful Ngong Ping Village. Around 4pm, it was time to say bye to Lantau Island, so we jumped onto the cable car, admired the breathtaking view as it took us back down, and headed back towards our hotel from Tung Chung Station. For dinner, I found a lovely eatery called Pret A Manger which was located in almost every station in central Hong Kong, so I grabbed a fresh salad from there and enjoyed it back in our hotel room as we reflected upon this fulfilling day.
The fifth day in Hong Kong was all about the popular Causeway Bay area. Characterised by shopping malls upon shopping malls, mixed British architecture, lots of young people and green parks, it was one of my favourite areas on Hong Kong island to visit.
We started our day off in Times Square Shopping Mall, after travelling by MTR from Mongkok Station to Causeway Bay. Inside the modern and clean building, there were not only high-end stores, but some more affordable ones too such as stationary shops. We explored for a short while before stumbling across Deli Fusion, a big food court with lots of different options to choose from. We had an early lunch there, and then without really having an exact direction in mind, we exited out of the mall and found ourselves in an almost New-York-like atmosphere. Large screens displaying advertisements adorned the buildings in every corner, shops lined across every single path; hundreds of people packed the streets, and tall palm trees also decorated the side. It was a place where you could find many popular stores from Korea and Japan, and find anything you wanted to. We browsed around a few aesthetic clothing stores and supermarkets to stock up on snacks, before reaching nearby Hong Kong Park.
This park was a truly beautiful garden despite being in the middle of the city, complete with water features, dazzling flowers, green ponds, and even turtles resting on rocks! The well-known Lock Cha Teahouse was also located on the grounds, although we didn’t go inside. The slight breeze was very refreshing, and as the sky started to turn dark, we went back to Mongkok via the MTR for some more night life there- again. We really did love it! Once we felt that it was enough, another day in Hong Kong was wrapped up there.
Our second last day in Hong Kong was probably the most relaxing we had in terms of visiting places, which was definitely needed after almost 2 weeks of non-stop travelling. I think it’s also safe to say that by the end of this day, we covered more of Hong Kong than we had ever imagined, truly enriching our experience there.
In the morning, we thought of the great idea to take the Star Ferry from Kowloon Island to Hong Kong Island, instead of the usual MTR, just for something extra fun and different. When we were at Harbour City the other day, I remember seeing a sign for the Ocean Terminal, so that is exactly where we headed to after exiting from Tsim Tsa Shui Station. A short walk led us to the pier, where the process of hopping on to the ferry was a lot simpler than I thought! All we had to do was scan our Octopus cards, just like you would inside any MTR station, and wait to board- though we were lucky and made it straight on to a ferry that was about to depart. The two-storey ferry wasn’t lavish or modern, but that didn’t affect the short journey at all. We stood on the side as we gazed into the beautiful skyline of the city with its buildings of all shapes and sizes, amazed at such sight. Less than 10 minutes later, we docked at Central Ferry Pier, just opposite Hong Kong MTR Station.
My friend suggested that from there we could go for a nice walk to Man Mo Temple, one of the oldest of its kind in Hong Kong. After a short stroll and a few flights of stairs, we reached the entrance to this small temple, however we weren’t too sure as to why there was a really long queue of people waiting outside to enter. Not wanting to join in, we visited another section (not the main part of the temple) without a queue, and it was yet another incredibly stunning temple inside and out. Most people were worshippers, holding incense and praying, and the haze from the incense was strong. After exiting, we stumbled across an antique market nearby, will stalls selling all kinds of old and antique goods, as well as good luck charms and mini statues. Following a look around, we decided to visit Causeway Bay again as we really enjoyed the area last time.
While we were there the other day, we saw a narrow street market similar to Ladies Market, but never quite went to have a look. So this day, we wanted to explore what this market had to offer, and it turned out to be the well-known Jardine’s Crescent. Despite all of the high-end stores and pricey shops that surrounded this market, these stalls sold everything from clothing to accessories to gifts for an incredibly lower deal. As I needed some socks, this was also where I purchased 10 pairs for HK$100! Following some more walking around, my lack of quality sleep and rest started to take a toll on me, so we both agreed to go back to our hotel to lie down before venturing off elsewhere in the evening.
In the evening, we went for a light walk around Mongkok to make the most of our time here, and grabbed some dinner as well. I went back to Veggie Foods for some of those mouth-watering mushrooms with rice, while Courtney craved a warm congee. After a satisfying meal, we began to pack our luggage for the rest of the evening before sleeping in our comfortable beds.
The very last full day of our trip in Hong Kong was probably the one I was looking forward to most the entire time. And that’s because, we went to Macau baby!
As we woke up bright and early, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Not only have I always wanted to visit Macau, but seeing first-hand where some of the most famous scenes from the popular korean drama Boys Over Flowers were filmed was also something that I longed to do. At around 9am, we made our way to Sheung Wan Station by MTR from Mongkok, where we arrived at the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal and purchased our return tickets for the TurboJet. After passing through immigration with our passports, we dashed off to the large ferry as we had just made it on time for the 9am departure. The one hour journey seemed to fly by, and we arrived in Macau.
We initially experienced a bit of culture shock as we exited out of immigration, as we quickly realised that Portuguese was the main language spoken along with Cantonese. There were also many people continuously coming up to us to offer personal taxis or day bus passes. Admittedly we were not too prepared for our arrival as it took us some time to purchase a public bus pass, find the bus stop and figure out which way to go, but we eventually got there and hopped on to a bus. Still confused with the bus stop names all in Portuguese, we had to pay extra attention to every stop announced on the bus to ensure that we didn’t miss ours, and thankfully we didn’t. But once we got off the bus, we were confused again, as we lost our sense of direction and couldn’t use our wifi device to locate ourselves on Google Maps. One great thing about Macau though, was that in most public places, there was free wifi available for tourists, so soon enough we found our direction and eventually reached our first stop, the Ruins of St. Pauls.
As I saw the ruins in the distance, I was stunned with amazement. It looked so beautiful, and like nothing I have ever seen before. The streets leading up to the ruins were packed to the brim with people from all over the world, who were also like me, snapping away the view with their cameras (or phones). Upon reaching the front of the ruins after climbing a flight of stairs, the true beauty of this 17th century church really came into sight. It was grand, and it was unique. Though only the front entrance was visible, behind there was also an underground museum with old artefacts that used to be inside the church, so we took a look inside. Back at the bottom of the stairs, there were lots of different stalls selling local street food, so I bought myself a corn, and thankfully the locals accepted Hong Kong dollars.
We then walked over to Senado Square, following the signs conveniently placed around for tourists. Upon first glance, I was completely captivated by the area- and you probably guessed it- because I just loved how colourful the buildings were paired with the Portuguese-styled architecture! It truly felt like I stepped into Europe for a brief moment, and almost like walking onto the set for a classic Disney movie. The sky was clear as it could be, and in the middle of the square was a large display of inflatable designs, coloured in red to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year. After that visit and having lunch at a local vegan restaurant (which only cost me HK$36 including unlimited access to rice and soup!), we ventured off to our final destination for the day.
It was about 2pm now as we returned to the bus stop we got off at, and hopped on to another bus that we thought would take us to our next stop. When there was no one left on the bus and we realised that it had parked, we asked the driver if we were going the right way, and he pointed to the bus stopped in front and told us to get on that instead. So we did, and after asking that bus driver if this route would take us to our ultimate destination, he assured us, and we took our seats. It turns out, we did take the right bus route, just in the opposite direction that we wanted. That wasn’t to worry over though, because after half an hour and observing the streets of Macau, we finally made it to The Venetian!
I was simply blown away by how intricate yet graceful the interior was the moment I stepped in to this building complex. Mainly gold in colour, the ceilings were covered in paintings just like the Sistine Chapel, and it was nothing less than stunning. Even the bathrooms were mind blowing! After asking around, we finally made it to The Canal located on the third floor, the place on my bucket list. It was definitely a very surreal experience, walking along the man-made canal accompanied by singing gondoliers, with the also man-made ceiling which resembled the sky looking over us. It’s quite hard to put into words how it felt to walk inside there, but it’s certainly something that I’ll never forget. As non-gamblers, we of course were not interesting in the huge gambling centre inside The Venetian, so after our exploring we took the free shuttle from the complex back to the Ferry Terminal.
Although we had to wait around half an hour to board the Turbo Jet back to Hong Kong, our turn came and we arrived just after 7pm. Having not had a bite since lunch, we had dinner straight away, and then concluded our adventurous day after that.
Our very last morning came in the blink of an eye. It was like yesterday that we had arrived in Hong Kong, and now we were packing up, ready to check out of our hotel and say goodbye as we parted ways.
The evening before, we had organised a shuttle ride from our hotel to the airport after we learned our lesson on day one, so because Courtney’s next flight was earlier than mine, she left off first. This meant I had some time on my own before I had to get on the shuttle, so I made the most I could out of these few hours and explored around Mongkok for one last time. For lunch, I decided to go to a vegetarian/vegan cafe called Green Common, a place that many of my viewers recommended me to try out, so that’s exactly what I did and was surprised to find it located inside a shopping mall called The Forest! It was a few streets away from our hotel, yet somehow we didn’t manage to walk past during our week here. Just like it sounds, the interior of the mall was decorated with green plants, making for a pleasant and cosy atmosphere to match the still chilly but sunny weather outside. I really enjoyed my lunch of a rainbow quinoa bowl at Green Common, which I found super tasty, full of flavour and reasonably priced as well. On the way out, I grabbed myself some airport snacks in case I needed a boost of energy, which, if you watched what happened later, was definitely a smart choice I made.
At 2pm, I collected my luggage from the hotel, got onto the shuttle, and after a short half hour ride observing the streets as much as I could, I arrived at Hong Kong airport. Due to unexpected circumstances, I didn’t arrive home until 11pm the next day, however instead of feeling frustrated, I saw it as an interesting experience that topped off my wonderful 2 week trip. Of course the delays, waiting in line and not getting any sleep for 30 hours wasn’t ideal, but when things are out of your control, why not find some light and have a little fun? 🙂
This now wraps up my blog posts for my trip to Singapore and Hong Kong, and I truly hope that it can help some of you out who are planning to visit either or both places some time in the future! Grateful is the best word that I can use to sum up this trip, because I truly appreciate the fact that I had this opportunity to explore more of the world and gain an intangible amount of knowledge through this. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them down below!
Sending my love,
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