Monday, May 10, 2010

Hong Kong Trip - Part 2

We always knew that Hong Kong was a big city, but what we didn't realize was that the city is actually surrounded by mountains. One morning, we took a tram ride up to the top of one of the highest mountains in Hong Kong called Victoria Peak (or just "The Peak" as locals call it). The ride is really steep - straight up the side of the mountain! At the top, there is an interesting shopping center that serves as both a mall as well as a rooftop viewing area with some of the best views of the city.

I forgot to mention earlier that there is actually another reason why we decided to take the trip - my 25th birthday, Matt's 26th birthday, and our 5 year anniversary all fall within the same 4-week period, so we decided to celebrate them all with this trip! We went to Hong Kong April 14 - 18, which happened to fall right over my birthday, so I got my way, and Matt accompanied me to one of Hong Kong's "cat cafes" in an area called Causeway Bay. This one was called Choco Cat Cafe, and was difficult for us to find - not sure how you would have run across it unless you had researched it beforehand as we had. Anyway, the concept is that cats are free to roam in the dining area with the guests. They can walk, sit, sleep anywhere they like as if it were their home! In fact, the whole place had a cat theme going on. I'm well aware that it seems a little unsanitary, but it was a fun concept and is pretty normal in Hong Kong, so I just HAD to see it!

Another birthday treat I got was getting to see the "Symphony of Lights" take place, which is basically a light and laser show that many of the buildings in the city participate in. The best place to watch it is across from the city in Kowloon, because you can get a great view of the skyline. The lights of the buildings blink on and off and move with lasers to music that is played.

Kowloon is famous for its Temple Street Night Market. The whole street is blocked off, and vendors set up booths all the way down, selling cheap souvenirs. Although most of the bags, wallets, electronics are fake, Matt and I had such a fun time looking through everything and haggling our way to better prices. Matt got a laser pointer that he is now obsessed with, and I found a cute bag, bracelet, and a bunch of pretty scarves.

Matt bargaining for the laser pointer

Just like the Japanese, the Chinese have a way with words...

A dog/bear that we came across on Temple Street

Another one of the major attractions in Hong Kong is The Bronze Buddha - the largest seated, outdoor, bronze Buddha in the world! To get there, you have to take the MTR out to another one of Hong Kong's islands - Lantau Island. From there, you take a 25-minute cable car ride (called the Ngong Ping 360) up the mountains to the Bronze Buddha. The ride is a little scary, because you are so high up, but the views of the ocean, the mountains, and Hong Kong's airport are amazing!

Below us, there was a LOOONNNGGGG trail/staircase that you are able to use to hike to the Buddha instead of taking the cable car ride.... maybe another day!

Our first view of the Buddha


Local Buddhists praying

Really cool view from the top

The monastery that was near the Buddha

The Buddhists use a lot of incense

We finished the day off with a walk through the streets of Hong Kong - specifically the area of "Lan Kwai Fong", which is a hopping nightlife area. We also got to eat at one of the most famous tea houses in Hong Kong - the Luk Yu Teahouse - where we got a taste of a more traditional restaurant. And to end the night - a ride back to Kowloon across Victoria Harbor on the famous Star Ferry. The ride takes less than 10 minutes from beginning to end, and you get an amazing view of the skyline all lit up - and the best part again - it only cost 28 cents a ride!

No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without trying traditional Chinese Dim Sum! Before we took the MTR back to the airport on our last day, Matt and I had breakfast at a Dim Sum restaurant near our hotel, and it was so good! Dim Sum is all different types of dumpling-like food that comes in small portions and are cooked in steamer baskets that look like round, wooden boxes. The baskets/boxes are stacked on top of each other and set on a steamer to cook them all at once.

We had an awesome first trip in Asia - Hong Kong is an amazing city, and I hope we get the chance to go back one day! I hope you enjoyed sharing the experience with us!

'Till next time!