OMG! I don’t understand why NO ONE suggested I spend MY LIFE in Hong Kong. I am too much in love with this so special city, so small but full of activities. Unfortunately JB doesn’t share my opinion, he hates it!
Part 1: Travel Diaries
Day 1: Discovery of the district of Mong Kok
After 10 days with mom and dad in Hanoi, I leave, with a heavy heart, for Hong Kong without knowing exactly what to expect. 1h30 at the Hong Kong airport is enough for me to tell JB: at least one week in Hong Kong, there are TOO MANY things to do!
Arrived at the airport of Hong Kong (huge), we pass the immigration without any problem. No stamp on the passport however (big disappointment for us who collect them) but a small paper authorizing us to remain there 3 months. JB realizes the necessity to have a passport protector, eh yes, it helps to keep this kind of small super important papers
We go to 1010 buy a SIM card. We don’t understand the explanations of the saleswoman who is more interested in payment than in customer service. After several attempts, we finally understand: we buy a certain amount of credit, and between different codes to activate this or that service, within the limit of the credit we paid. 68HK$ will allow us to use 3GB in 7 days and connect to CSL’s WIFI in an unlimited way (they have hotspots all over the city). If we stay more than 7 days, we will have to enter a new code to recommend 7 days (but without spending more, with the balance of our 68HK$). Why make it simple when you can make it complicated? Since the beginning of our trip, it is the most complicated system that we met
We pay 33HK$/person to take a bus (A21) leading us to the district of Mong Kok, where our hostel is located. The trip is super fast and allows us to have a glimpse of Hong Kong, its ugly and small buildings, its port and its thousands of containers, its ferries, its wide and clean tunnels, its huge highways..
Arriving in front of the hostel building, one has to go around the building to find a small staircase leading to the 6th floor. The visit of the room is done in 2 seconds, it is only 4m2, with an integrated bathroom, where one takes a shower over the toilet. 30€ per night with air conditioning. Welcome to Hong Kong!
The streets start to fill up and JB can’t believe how many people are around him. Like what, Hanoi isn’thing compared to Hong Kong 🙂 The streets are full of activities, there are pubs everywhere, arrows pointing to massages, restaurants, stores on this or that floor of the building. The district of Mong Kok is simply one of the densest in the world with 130 000 inhabitants per km2, 6x more than in Paris!
We quickly spot the “Ladies Market”, a night market filled with cheap Chinese products. As a consumer as I am, I fall for a mini fan to be connected to the phone (for 12HK$, or 1,3€ it’s hard to resist); before shouting with joy when I see a Sasa store. It’s the cheap Sephora from Hong Kong, whose asiat cosmetics e-commerce site has been all the rage all over the world for the last few years. It is by seeing this kind of stores that I realize the virus that is hitting China: sheet masks. Yes yes, the cotton masks soaked in moisturizing serum, made popular by Korean women. They are on sale everywhere, usually in boxes of 10, for only 70HK$. Hongkongese women have to use a lot of them so that you can find them every 2 meters. I’ve never seen this in other countries in Asia (to know which masks to buy, watch this YouTube video by meejuse)
A cat bar (Meow Meow Day Cafe) is located on the 2nd floor of a building. It looks well organized: before entering, you have to take off your shoes, wear socks (if you don’t have any, you can buy them), disinfect your hands. Consumption is mandatory (60HK$/drink). If you stay more than one hour, you have to pay either one drink or 30HK$/person. There are about twenty cats “in activity” in the room. They can leave this room at any time to rest on the 1st floor, so the cats that are in this room with the clients are really cats that want to “work”. The litters are hidden in the bathroom next door and a machine filtering the air and odors does its job very well
We have the chance to attend the food distribution, which attracts dozens of cats next to us. After eating, two kittens volunteer to play with me (and the feather duster they gave me). That’s it, I’ve recharged my “cats” battery for the next 3 months
We go to Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal to buy two boat tickets for Macau the next morning
Day ? : Big Buddha
Back in Macau, JB, scared by Mong Kok, decides to book a bigger hotel room (14m2 instead of 4m2 ouééééé), with a great view, but a bit more off-center, for 50€ per night (while the other one was 30€ per night for 4 square meters)
But we are obliged to leave on Thursday morning because the rates are too high for this long weekend (holidays thanks to the full moon festival in August). Hong Kong is supposed to shine with lanterns everywhere in the city, punctuated by lion dances on Thursday and Friday. However, a typhoon is likely to pass nearby, bringing with it a lot of rain and wind. We wonder why we have to pay 120€ at night to watch the rain fall? We decide to leave for the Philippines on Thursday morning
Moreover, I feel frankly not well in Hong Kong, I am sick and I sleep a lot without knowing why. Air conditioning? pollution? lack of fresh air? too much bubble tea? In any case, after 2 hours of transportation to reach the Big Buddha (including 30 minutes by cable car, magnificent!), I am completely out of order
Fortunately the beauty of the place justifies all the efforts to come here. The cable car crosses several mountains, goes from one island to another. There are even cabins with transparent bottom to see the landscapes (which we didn’t take, it would have made me even sicker). One can even enter the Buddha. The temple in front of the Buddha, is very pretty also, we even bought incense to follow the religious fervor
The small negative point is the sale of cable car tickets. Luckily I consulted the official website before coming, otherwise I would have NOTHING understood what the guy at the ticket office was saying. He was asking me “Standard or Crystal”? as if I had to guess that Crystal was the cabin with a transparent bottom. Ah yes, he also asked me “Combo or no Combo”? What do you mean by that ? Do you also sell popcorn or what ? 😀 Anyway, if you want to go there, check the official website BEFORE
Well, so much so that others travel the world, we go back to the hotel so that I can spend the rest of my day sleeping like a fat lump
Day ? + 1: Nan Lian Garden, Star Ferry, Cat Bar
We visit Nan Lian Garden to get some fresh air. Imitating the style of Tang Dynasty gardens, this garden was built to promote Chinese culture to the Hong Kong people. It is surprising to have so much greenery in the middle of Kowloon, the densest area in the world. Every tree here is carefully pruned, there are 2 restaurants in the garden, one of them hidden behind a waterfall. If you like Chinese series, you will feel like you are in one of these series. In spite of the heat and the sun, we spend a Zen moment in this garden
Direction Star Ferry, where we take a ferry at 3.5HK$ or 40 euro cents to go from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island (Hong Kong has several islands). We could have done it by subway, but this ferry is an inratable experience for any visitor to Hong Kong, to admire the skyline of Hong Kong, the sunset, and to realize the density of this city. Of course, with a small price like that, we made the round trip (to Wan Chai because the trip is longer than the trip to Central)
The Avenue of Stars being under construction, I propose to JB to visit my cat friends at the Meow Meow Day Café before our departure the next morning for the Philippines. As usual, I have a great time with the cats and kittens; and when I come back home, I even get a good bubble tea
We didn’t realize it before but in many places it is possible to pay with the Octopus prepaid transport card: the ferry, drink/snack vending machines, supermarkets, some restaurants? Basically, it’s a Moneo card that really works (ohhh I don’t care, not good!). So we recommend you to use it since you can get your unspent credit back afterwards
The level 1 alert is triggered for the typhoon I was talking about earlier. The Hong Kong people seem to be used to it since hotels, shopping malls, subways … all put out a sign to relay this alert. The only consequence for us is that the hotel closed the outdoor swimming pool because of this alert
In conclusion, even if I love this city (I eat well, I have fun, I love shopping here!!!), I probably won’t be able to live in Hong Kong. My body doesn’t feel good here. JB has hated this city since day one, let’s not talk about it, it’s too big to live in 4 square meters, needs more breathable air and aspires to a little less than 120 000 people per km2
Also, I don’t know if it’s cultural, but I still can’t get used to it. People look at me a lot, it’s embarrassing. Not because I’m with JB (sometimes I walk away from JB and people look at me with the same intensity – and I’ve noticed, they look at ME and not at JB), nor because people notice that I’m a foreigner (they all speak to me in Chinese), nor because I dress oddly (I dress like them). It isn’t the look of curiosity that we see in India or Nepal. No, it’s a stare, it makes me really uncomfortable, and since it comes from people of both sexes and different ages, I have only one explanation: I must look like someone very famous😀 ahahahahaha