Visiting Hong Kong had always been on my bucket list. Huge city, bright lights, lots of people… I love it all. And nothing says “adventure” like a congested Asian city in the middle of summer.
I arrived from Tianjin, China after a stint teaching English to high-schoolers. Navigating the octopus (Hong Kong’s public subway system) went just fine but making my way through the busy streets was a disaster. The pack on my back was nearly ripping at the seams from being stuffed with 3 tea sets that I so proudly haggled for at the Chinese markets and behind me, I toted a rolling suitcase that I bought from a grocery store in Tianjin. No sooner did I make it above ground did the wheels of my suitcase pop off, the straps tore and the zippers burst – almost all on cue. Dragging my belongings down the sidewalk, I trekked to my hostel, located snuggly above a series of Indian-run pawnshops and lurid massage parlors. How lovely, I thought to myself. Just what my parents envisioned when I told them I’d be backpacking through Asia.
After unloading my things in my hostel room, I met up with Eric – a friend of a friend and a native Hong Konger who very kindly agreed to show me around the city. Having spent the last month and a half living off of white rice and Silken tofu (vegetarian food is a rare commodity in rural China), I was desperate for a feast. We decided to splurge at a great little taco stand in downtown called Taco Loco (to this day, my favorite taco stand in the Eastern hemisphere).
After nearly bursting from burritos and margaritas, Eric and I made our way outside of the city to the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. The bronze Tian Tan Buddha, or Big Buddha as it’s known, stands 112 feet tall and towers over the majestic seaside. A glass-bottom cable car transported us to the monastery at the base of the mountain (you can hike it but I was told it takes 4 hours) and, like all good Chinese mountains, the hundreds of steps allow you to climb from the bottom of the hill right up to the Big Buddha statue.
View from the cable car
Tian Tan Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong
Later that evening, Eric brought me to the popular expatriate hangout, Lan Kwai Fong – a street famous for its drinking, dining and clubbing scenes. Until you have visited Lan Kwai Fong, you have not experienced the truly awesome nightlife of Hong Kong. It was at LKF that we found the Balalakia Russian Ice Bar (where they keep it a chilly -7 degrees). Borrowing one of the many fur coats the restaurant offers, Eric and I entered the ice-enclosed fortress…in our flip flops! The blue tint of the iced walls combined with the narrow window where you order shots (from an extensive list of worldly vodkas) made the perfect backdrop for our pictures.
Nearing midnight, Eric saved the best for last. We hailed a taxi and scurried to the top of Victoria Peak – one of Hong Kong’s photographic hot spots – to watch the city’s nightly light show. Overlooking the illuminated buildings, I couldn’t believe how head-over-heels in love I was with Hong Kong. The day, the sites, the locals I met – it all was fantastic. I highly recommend Hong Kong to anyone visiting Asia, if not for the tacos, at least for the adventures!
Hong Kong skyline as seen from Victoria Peak
If you would like more advice on things to do/see/where to stay in Hong Kong or would like to know what other fun things were on my itinerary, please feel free to message me via comments. Thanks!