Hong Kong

After a month in Southeast Asia I went east to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is kind of part of China but kind of it’s own thing. They have their own government, border control, and currency, but rely on China for defense. China also has a heavy influence on the Hong Kong political system.

My attention span usually ran out right about here during the planning phase. It turns out that happened in real life too… It took me a few days to get onboard with the next month and a half of travel.

It turns out it’s easy to get a visa to China from Hong Kong. I almost went to Beijing but I didn’t bring winter clothing with me.

Wednesday I walked around Hong Kong. I had intended to go on two walking tours but I missed one and the other was cancelled. The highlights of Wednesday were a delicious hamburger and a delicious burrito. The hamburger made the list of my top three favorite hamburgers, along with Burgatory and the Ships Inn (Scotland). The burrito was Cali-Mex and delicious. Still, not great choices when you’re on the other side of the world.

Later I went to Victoria Peak which overlooks the city.

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Thursday I had some pork dumplings for lunch and then went on a walking tour of kalwoon. The tour was mostly “Hong Kong: the dark side of capitalism” apparently featured in the New York Times. It went into explaining how the cost of living is the highest in the world, and how the government designed it to be that way to keep property taxes sky high. The result is that people are renting out cages or coffins, forced to split tiny apartments multiple ways, or just homeless. The idea of the tour was to draw attention to these things in contrast to the skyscraper lined harbor.

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It ended in a meat and fish market.

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After the tour I went to eat dinner in the Temple Street Market. I had steamed shrimp with garlic.

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Friday I went to see the symphony of lights, a nightly light show on the waterfront. My hostel recommended a roof top bar nearby and I watched it from there.

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Saturday I went on a tour Hong Kong’s harbor area. It went over the political history of Hong Kong, how they were a British colony before being handed over to China, and what that looked like. A big theme of it was how they were supposed to become a democracy and how China hasn’t let that happen, going so far as jailing protest leaders.

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One of the stops was the Chinese military base. The tour guide had a neck mounted mic (used through the tour) and was telling us about the descent right outside the wall, so that was an experience especially since Hong Kong is decidedly not a free country.

Then I went to visit the Chi Lin Nunnery, and spent some time walking through the garden there.

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For dinner I had steak, shrimp, and fish hibachi. I would end up having that a few different nights.

Sunday I went to see the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. I didn’t actually count the Buddhas, I believe them though.

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Then I had lunch at Tim Ho Wan, which is a restaurant that has a Michelin star, and is supposed to be the cheapest Michelin star restaurant. The menu was in Chinese, so with the help of Google translate, I ordered a Pepsi (intentionally) and some fatty rib bones (I was hoping I ordered ribs).

I’m not exactly sure how I was supposed to eat the ribs. Thankfully they seated me with a family from Hong Kong who helped me order pork and shrimp dumplings. All together it came to about $7 USD. The dumplings were delicious.

Monday I went to see Hong Kong’s Big Buddha. It took a long cable car ride to get there, and there was a nice village near by.

Tuesday I went on the Dragons Back hike. I met serval people from Singapore, one from Canada, one from Boston, and someone from Guam who looked and sounded like a very tan Robert California (James Spader) from The Office.

The hike was 8.5km and had a lot of ups and downs, like walking on a dragon’s back.

For dinner afterwards I had Hong Kong barbeque at Joy Hing. The menu was in Chinese again but I was thankfully able to order in English. I had delicious pork, or maybe duck, but I think pork. Then I went to an American diner which I’ve had breakfast at a couple of times and had some coffee. Because coffee.

After a pot of coffee I was all powered up, so I went to a sky bar which I was referred to by a swedish traveler who I met randomly three different times. From there I found a giant Christmas tree.

Wednesday I went to the coastal defense museum. It gave a history of Hong Kong going back to the Ming dynasty in the late 1300’s. It covered the opium war, the second opium war, up through World War II and the surrender of Hong Kong to Japan.

I spent the rest Wednesday and Thursday recovering from a cold, but I did see the new Star Wars movie. I also had Barbeque pork buns which is like bbq pork in a pastry, and shrimp dumplings which were both delicious.

Next I’m heading east to Tokyo.

Here are more pictures from Hong Kong.

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