The start of my next adventure was to be an ‘extended layover’ in the sprawling metropolis of Hong Kong. Here, we would spend a week before getting our next flight to India. I wasn’t too sure what to expect of the city – let alone whether I’d really like it – but the gargantuan amount of concrete I’d imagined was equalled out by huge quantities of green.
The obvious place to start is with a view from a rooftop bar. From the 32nd floor of Wooloomooloo, with a cocktail in hand, we were stunned by the cityscape that rose up to join us, with the unlit parks and gardens appearing as patchwork blacks behind smart skyscrapers blinking in unison. Back on the ground, these towering apartment blocks were the background to the racecourse at Happy Valley. It felt like a scene from Star Wars or the Quidditch World Cup looking up at both the stands and the skyscrapers. For a view of the city in the day, we hiked up to the Peak; but were left disappointed by the crowds at the summit’s viewpoint (much better to get gradual snapshots between the trees on the way up!).
I enjoyed the serenity of the hiking opportunities; where the bustling city suddenly felt like a different world, despite being only a few hundred metres away. Another favourite of ours was Dragonsback Trail, a 10km hike ascending and descending over a series of mounds that resemble a Chinese Dragon arching out of the land. On Lantau island, after seeing the Tian Tan big Buddha, we attempted to hike around Lantau Peak to reach Cheung Sha beach, but were advised by locals that we wouldn’t make it in time for sunset – a double disappointment having missed the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride up due to maintenance work!
Part of the reason we enjoyed Hong Kong so much was that we were based outside of the main city and ‘commuted’ in when we wanted to. We couchsurfed with Hannah’s cousin, his wife and toddler in an area called the New Territories. Following their recommendations, we hiked through Lions Park (not to be confused with Lion Rock, which evaded me!) to Trio beach. We had the place to ourselves as the locals avoid it after it was badly hit by a typhoon. The town, Sai Kung, was just a lovely place to stroll through, and every day we would potter through the marinas to see the fishmongers and browse the bakeries. A ‘pineapple bun’ quickly became my staple breakfast.
We ate out most evenings in both Sai Kung and Central after saving so much by not needing an expensive hostel or hotel; and for anyone after the local style, I recommend Dim Dim Sum or Dim Ding in Kowloon and Soho respectively. We also had a delicious seafood and vegetarian noodle meal from Vilavila in Sai Kung, but opted to go for dessert at pudding-connoisseur Honeymoon across the road.
I ended up loving Hong Kong, and put it very high up in my list of best big cities. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so safe and have never realised how much I value that feeling, not having to check for my wallet on the Metro. It really is a beautiful place, and everything just works perfectly.
Now, we fly back west from Hong Kong to New Delhi, and I’m not too sure what to expect there either! Click subscribe to get an email update in a few weeks, and feel free to share this blog on Facebook or other social medias. If it was of any use to anyone planning their trip, or if you have any other questions, you can comment below!