Hong Kong: Go There.

At the end of April 2015, I went to Hong Kong for a week. It is now the end of September 2015 and I am finally sitting down to write about it.

It occurred to me that I have very little to say about Hong Kong. I LOVED visiting my close family friends whom I had not seen in years. We saw some lovely things together. That said, I had very little local interaction [probably due to the large expat community], so I don’t have any wild comparisons to make as I did with Egypt.

I could easily live in Hong Kong, though.

It’s a comfortable city. While the population is huge, it doesn’t feel nearly as crowded as Istanbul. There are many raised walkways connecting buildings causing the pedestrian traffic to be less condensed.

While Cantonese is the official language of Hong Kong, there is English signage everywhere, so no need to panic, tourists! Taxi drivers, I’m told, don’t speak a lot of English, and they certainly aren’t fluent in the markets. To me, that’s part of the charm. I hope it stays that way.

Hong Kong was my first visit to the East. Being the center for international business that it is, much of the city felt like home, while still having its own local flair. There’s a little bit of New York, little bit of Hollywood, little bit of everywhere.

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It is modern. There’s an efficient metro system, as well as ferries [which made me feel at home, as in my Istanbul home], buses, and double-decker trams called Ding Dings. You can use all of these with your Octopus Card. You are charged by distance traveled rather than per use, and unfortunately, like Istanbul, there are not any daily, weekly, or monthly passes.

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Don’t want to carry the Octopus Card with you? You can register your Fit Bit [if you have one] instead! I’m not certain, but if you can do that, I don’t see why you couldn’t use your phone, too. Pretty cool. Anyway, you can top up your balance in the stations or at any 7-11.

Speaking of, I saw more 7-11s in Hong Kong than I ever had in America.

The BEST part about Hong Kong, though, and the primary reason why I could live there [if I had a job that paid my rent since real estate is outrageously expensive], is the combination of nature and the city. Hong Kong is amidst the mountains. There are plenty of hiking trails nearby as well as on the surrounding islands. I love the cultural arts experience that comes with living in a big city. Unfortunately, that often means forsaking or distancing yourself with Mother Earth. In Hong Kong, there is no need to compromise.

They say Hong Kong is heavily polluted due to traffic and population, but I didn’t feel my lungs collapsing as I did in Cairo.

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We saw these characters on Monkey Mountain. There weren’t swarms of monkeys as you may find on YouTube, but we waited around for a bit and enjoyed observing quite a few. 

Throughout the week, I had some delicious and some not so delicious food. The Holyoaks and I went to a couple restaurants together, both sit down and street vendors, where I nearly ate myself into a coma. I was also really excited about trying Dim Sum. Cemil, a Turkish friend that I met in the airport, and I found a restaurant one day and tried a lot of things. The traditional dumplings were a win. The duck feet and meatballs weren’t for me… Apparently NONE of it was for Cemil… He made us have McDonald’s for dinner that night…

So, with that, I’ll conclude with some pictures that highlight my trip, in no particular order.

Strolling around Hong Kong with Doug and Charisse Holyoak:

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Just this and that:

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Flower Market, Fish market, Bird Market, Jade Market, Ladies Market, Night Market… I spent an entire day just going to markets:

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This is the lady I bought my pearls and jade from. She was very sweet and didn't hassle me at all. She is one of the first women you'll see when you enter the Jade Market.
This is the lady I bought my pearls and jade from. She was very sweet and didn’t hassle me at all. She is one of the first women you’ll see when you enter the Jade Market.

Lamma Island – Took the ferry away from the city for a little day hike where I met a gentlemen at a fork-in-the-road who was responsible for inspecting the trails. I tagged along with him for the remainder of the first half of the island. He taught me about culture, traditions, and politics as we walked and then treated me to calamari and coconut juice.

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10,000 Buddhas:

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Before going to Big Buddha, we stopped at a fishing village. We took a boat ride through the canals to see the houses on stilts and then out to the open water where we saw pink dolphins.

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Church and the LDS Temple:

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Cemil, my new Turkish friend, and I went up to Victoria Peak together one night. We enjoyed a light show and, of course, the incredible view of Hong Kong.
Afterwards, we admired the view of Hong Kong from the ground level.
Afterwards, we admired the view of Hong Kong from the ground level.

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