This is my first time ever in this hemisphere. I never thought I would go so far, but I did. Let me tell you that coming this far had some good planning and waiting as well. First, we weren’t sure if we were coming because of my passport, not that I didn’t have one, but because there was a huge delay in sending the new document. After several months waiting for an answer, I finally got my passport. In the meantime (while waiting for my passport), Mario was wondering about the tickets and when to buy them (remember that the later you buy a flight ticket the more expensive it can get.
Luckily, we found a company that was flexible enough to change dates without paying for a fine, and that would fly us to Cairns (our main destination) via Hong Kong. It was perfect. After I got my travel document and got the visa, we started to plan what we were to do in the northern-most part of Australia. Our friend Kat is an Aussie, and she was going to be our main “guide”, which she was. She suggested most of the activities and gave us an idea of how it was going to be there. She left with her boyfriend, Blasco, two week prior to our arrival.
Hong Kong Island
Our time in Hong Kong was going to be very short (just a day) but very productive. After 12 hours flight, we arrive at Hong Kong’s airports at 06:00 am very tired. We decided to leave our luggage and back-packs at the airport and explore Hong Kong. Mario and I decided that no time had to be waisted, so we took the bullet train from the airport to the city. I must say that Hong kong is not a beautiful city, but a very impressive one. It is by far the most vertical city in the world, with more skyscrapers than any other city on Earth. Yet, despite the amount of buildings, there is nature surrounding the concrete jungle.
Hong Kong reminded me a lot of Caracas, a city builded in a valley, surrounded by a beautiful mount range. It is just that this Asian city in safer. We decided to go to Victoria Peak first, walking around the city center and through the Botanical Garden until the tram that took us there. The tram to “the peak” was very interesting and scary because we went really high at an inclination to the horizon of 27 degrees. After some minutes we reached the top and got ready to take a look at the city from 552 meters. The downside was that it was cloudy and rainy, and the photos didn’t came out as good as we wanted.
I think that the best way to enjoy Hong Kong is if you are going to stay at least two days, not as we did (arriving at 06:00 am, and as tired as we were walked around the city). The thing is that the city is very overwhelming: very big, very polluted, very crowded… Very “in your face”. While at Victoria Peak we noticed the amount of skyscrapers that dominated the city and how it’s government was making emphasis in living “vertically” in order to protect the green areas, because something that you notice when your walking/driving around Hong Kong island is the great amount of green spaces the city has. I think this is a fantastic idea.
In mainland China, Kowloon
Hong Kong was administered by the British until very recently (1997), so now, it “completely” belong to China; and I used the quotation marks because despite that fact, it is also very independent: it has it’s own currency, it’s own flag and it’s own migratory laws. Anyways, knowing all that, and also that it is more British that Asian in many ways, “The Peak” I noticed something very interesting: the amount of blond (not brunette or redhead) and beautiful expats wife’s in jogging suits having coffee at Starbucks at 09:00 am. I know that this kind of things is a common trait of cities like Hong Kong, meaning with a big amount of expatriates.
After that first half of the day, we decided to go to Kowloon, which is the other part of Hong Kong, located in the mainland. I must say that we spent a long, long time underground looking for the train that would take us to the place. It was really annoying because we walked – for sure – around 2 km with just 2 signs o the way telling us where to go… I guess that we were really tired (we didn’t rest during our flight and we’ve been walking since 07:00 am. At the end, and after 2 stops, we arrived in Kowloon.
While Hong Kong island is the posh and “city-like” area, Kowloon is the shopping center, much more relaxed and probably less crowded than the other one. Somehow it reminded me to Broadway, with many neon lights signs everywhere. Something that I noticed while in Kowloon was the amount of indian workers in the retail industry, something that I didn’t see in Hong kong Island.
An interesting trend: plastic glasses without lenses
One of the cool things about traveling to new places is to see – in first hand – the fashion trends, something that in Hong Kong is not related, in the least, to clothes. I saw several young people (in their 20s) wearing plastic glasses without the lenses, like the plastic frame only. After some research, it seems to be a fashion trend in the whole South East Asia. Yes, as you read. Apparently, this has become a very big trend in the region, where wearing big, thick plastic frames without lenses makes you look cool. So, in SEA to be a true hipster you have to look hypster and nerdy in lens-less black plastic frames.
Whether it make you eyes look bigger or your ultra long fake eye-lashes stand out, this fashion trend is pretty silly, and this opinion come from someone that has worn glasses her entire life (because of an actual visual defect) and really hates it. So, Mario and I were thinking “What The F%^$” after stumble upon several young men and women wearing the same “fashion statement” accessory.
Our next destination…
After many hours walking and a wonderful dim sum (typical Cantonese food) lunch we decided to head back to the airport and wait for our flight to Cairns (northern Australia). Mario and I found many cool amenities there, such as an IMAX cinema, restaurants, lot of shops and a spa… The bad news is that we didn’t use any of them (except for the shops) because we fell asleep the moment we sat down.
I enjoyed a lot my day in Hong Kong, despite being very tired and the jet-lag, and also despite not knowing the personality of the city at night, which (I think) could have changed my perspective of it. I guess I have to go back…
I hope you have enjoyed this post. There is more to come, this time about my adventure in Australia!