Happening Hong Kong

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Flag of China  , Hong Kong,
Monday, May 12, 2008

Anybody who thinks of Hong Kong will conjure up images of a modern high-rise city with planes coming and going, advanced transportation systems and millions of people. This was exactly what drew us to Hong Kong and we weren't disappointed.
The greater Hong Kong area is made up of 4 territories: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories and some outlying islands of which Lantau Island is the largest.
While doing a little research on why Hong Kong was previously under British control we discovered an interesting fact we never knew. In 1860 Hong Kong was granted to Britain after China tried to put an end to the illegal opium trade into China by confiscating large stock piles of opium from a British stockpile in Guangzhou. Apparently the British threatened to attack China and ultimately did if China didn't compensate the British and end to the ban on the lucrative opium industry. China ceded after being attacked by giving the island of Hong Kong to the British as well as leasing Kowloon and the New Territories for a period of 99 years. All this got us wondering how much of modern day Hong Kong was funded by drug money??
Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 and will retain its free market economy, social and legal systems for 50 years.
A highlight of Hong Kong we couldn't wait to see was the free Symphony of Lights show. It is a multimedia event, named the world's largest permanent light and sound show by Guinness World Records and covers more than 40 buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbour. They are decked out in lights, which at the flick of a switch, glow in a myriad of colours depicting Hong Kong vibrancy. We watched the show from the Avenue of Stars, a strip with Chinese movie stars (like in Hollywood) along Victoria Harbour on the Kowloon side and a 5 minute walk form our hotel. It was spectacular!
The next day we visited Hong Kong Island and took the Peak Tram, travelling at a 45 degree angel, up to the peak of the island. We walked the circumference of the peak along a stunning 3km track. The views were breathtaking and we could appreciate the number of tightly packed high rises in Hong Kong. I wonder if Dubai will look like this in a few years. We also got a great view of a massive new 1600m bridge being built called the Stonecutters Bridge which when completed will be one of the longest span cable-stayed bridges in the world. Wow!
We explored the rest of the island by bus and passed Repulse Bay, a crescent-shaped strand of sand and apparently one of Hong Kong's most beautiful beaches on route to Stanley Market famous for its relaxed ambience, sea environs and bargain buys. The beach looked nothing as gorgeous as the beaches in South Africa and Stanley Market was nothing more than a simple flee market, still a good day out nonetheless.
On the way back to the pier we explored SoHo - the upmarket cosmopolitan food district, on what Guinness Book of Records calls the world's longest covered escalator. Sadly we could not afford a drink in this famous area - one glass of wine (during happy hour when the prices are reduced) costs the same as the entire bottle in the supermarket. We opted for the supermarket bottle of wine.
The following day we explored Lantau island Hong Kong Disneyland is located. We took a 360 degree cable car with breathtaking views of North Lantau and the South China Sea to the Ngong Ping Village, where the world tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha sits on the Ngong Ping plateau. Not too far away is the Wisdom Path, an outdoor replica of the centuries-old Heart Sutra, one of the world's best known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike.
With a bit of luck we found a little South African restaurant on the beach on route to the pier to catch the ferry home, called The Stoep where we had a delicious lunch consisting of Bobotie and yellow rice, roasted veggies and the best salmon steak I've ever had, finish off with Malva pudding. Best of all they had Windhoek lager and South African wine. Superb!
In the evenings we roamed the Kowloon area where our hotel was located, with the Temple Street Night Market, Jade Market and Jade Street, Flower Market, Goldfish Market and affordable local cuisine.
Hong Kong is an amazingly modern city and is well worth a visit.
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