Hong Kong, how do you explore this country and culture and do it justice in five days? Where do you start? How do you unearth a country’s core? On my first visit to Hong Kong I had the advantage of staying with a good friend who was living in Hong Kong. We started with the best finding the best view of Hong Kong, and no it wasn’t Victoria Peak!
Lion Rock provides the best view of Hong Kong Island, but you need to work hard for it. The only way you can get to the peak is walk a steep hiking trail. You get to the start either from Lion Rock Community Garden or Sha Tin Pass. On my first day in Hong we tackled Lion Rock, via Lion Rock Park, off Chuk Yeun Road. We walked from Wong Tai Sin MTR station as we found it challenging getting a taxi or bus from there. In hindsight, it would have been easier to take a bus (72) from Festival Walk at Kowloon Tong station. This is how we chose to return to the nearest train station after we finished the walk.
To get to Lion Rock Peak we chose to walk through the community garden and take a lesser travelled track. This provided a little more of a rugged adventure before it joined the main paved section of the formal path. The paved path finishes at the Pavilion which half way up. The last section of the walk from the Pavilion is very steep and narrows to a single track. I found this walk challenging in the heat of May, but the locals were unperturbed, some running it. The view from the top is breathtaking and we were lucky to be experience what was considered a clear day. After experiencing the view from here I’m afraid I found Victoria Peak a little less awe inspiring.
Tai O, a small fishing village on Lantau Island, home to the Tanka people and is another must see place. We visited it during the annual dragon boat festival in Hong Kong and it was ablaze with colour. Tai O is famous for its stilt houses, that are built out into the waterways, salted fish and fish paste. There are numerous street stalls and cafes selling food produced locally, it’s a great way to taste a range of traditional foods.
On our return trip, we visited the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha), which is a massive bronze statue of Buddha. Even if you don’t feel like tackling the 268 steps to the base of the statue, it’s still an amazing site from the bottom of the steps.
A big part of Hong Kong’s culture centres around shopping, from high end stores to street stalls embedded in many of its laneways. If you are not into retail therapy like myself I’d still encourage you to hit the street markets. I found them fascinating, particularly the hustle and bustle of the Ladies, Bird, Flower and Fish Market’s in the late afternoon, early evening, on the way to the Temple Street Night Market. The Jade market, done by day, is also worth a visit but be prepared to politely but firmly brush off some of the more eager stall owners.
Lastly, there is the abundance of different choices of local cuisine, some of which I wasn’t brave enough to try. I did manage to eat my own body weight in Dim Sum, and also though a little on the expensive side, the Dim Sum Library offers some amazing choices. On my last night the last thing on my list was a drink at one of the many roof top bars overlooking the harbour, Hong Kong at night is a delight.