What the Duck! – Hong Kong Part 1

3 & 4 May 2013

I flew from Singapore to Hong Kong with Jetstar, arriving 4 hours later. My school friends and Hong Kong natives Christine and Richard met me in Arrivals, a lovely welcome to have after a tiring few days in Singapore. The last time I saw them was in 2010 when I last visited Hong Kong – that was almost three years ago, so it was safe to say I was excited to see them.

The first and most important job was grabbing dinner, which we did. I can’t actually remember what I ate apart from that there was chicken involved and I had to push the lemon down in my drink, which I didn’t realise until Christine stopped me drinking and fixed it.

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We then made our way to my hostel via the airport line on the MTR/underground. It cost HK$100, which actually isn’t as bad as it sounds – it works out at something like £8 and took 20-30 minutes.

I stayed at Yesinn at Causeway Bay. You do have to go up a couple of flights of stairs before you get to reception, but luckily I had Christine and Richard to help me with my suitcase. Once at reception level, there’s a lift that goes all the way up to the ninth floor (the floor my room was on and also which allows access to the roof terrace). By the time we got there it was already 10:30pm, so I battled around in the dark in my dorm (9 people this time, but with an en suite) for my locker and bed and hit the sack.

I gave myself time to lie in the next morning, but I ended up waking before my alarm and getting up anyway. I found, I hate to say it, a trusty Starbucks to sit down with my map, tea and free wifi and figure out a plan. I don’t think there was really anything immediate I hadn’t seen the last time I came, when I spent 2 weeks with my other school friend Margaret. She did a pretty thorough job of showing me around. However, travelling with a local and travelling on your own are two very different experiences. I really love the process of sitting down with a map and working out a plan for the day’s activities. I also now had the freedom to do absolutely anything I fancied because I knew the city fairly well and had my own time to kill.

I decided to go up to the Peak – this is up a really steep hill/ small mountain and you get a really stunning view of central Hong Kong from it. It’s accessed by the famous and terrifyingly steep Peak Tram. You cram into an old tram carriage and are hauled up the steep face of the mountain. I actually managed to get a seat this time (compared to my last visit when I had to stand and genuinely felt I was going to fall straight to the other end of the carriage below). Before you get to the viewing terrace at the top, you have to wind your way through a big shopping centre (no surprises there, Hong Kong is full of them) and queue briefly for access to the terrace. This was where I met a Canadian couple who were unsure about what ticket they’d bought. I stopped to explain what they’d bought and ended up chatting with them while we climbed the last few stairs and went out onto the terrace. The lady and her husband then stopped with me to point out various features in the harbour below (like the old airport – apparently you once had to fly between all the skyscrapers just to land or take off, scary!) and they took my picture for me.

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Next I made my way back to the harbour to find a certain famous rubber duck. I hadn’t actually heard about it until I got to Hong Kong (Christine had been trying to show me pictures at the airport but I really didn’t grasp the concept until later) but it’s a major tourist attraction. The duck started out in Sydney and has since travelled to various cities. I dutifully went and got my photo taken, though I had to fight through huge crowds to even get close. All around the area near the harbour front I saw pop up stalls selling mini rubber ducks, so it was clearly a big deal. (As an aside, it turns out the duck deflated a few days after I left Hong Kong so I was lucky to see it when I did.)

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One of the things you just have to do in Hong Kong is take the Star Ferry from either Central Pier or Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s really cheap and you get a great view of the harbour and buildings. This time I went during the day, but on my last visit I went at night and it was much prettier.

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One thing I didn’t do on my last visit was go to any of the museums, so my next plan was to do a few of those. Museums are free for students on Wednesdays, but sadly I wasn’t in Hong Kong for a Wednesday. Still, it only cost me HK$10 to go to the Space Museum, which is less than £1. It’s pretty good, too, with lots of interactive activities and stuff. I was pretty tired by this point, having barely slept properly since I arrived in Singapore, so I wasn’t paying all that much attention to the museum.

The museum is really close to the Avenue of Stars, so that’s where I went next after grabbing a bubble milk tea (it’s like… cold tea with these soft and chewy pearls in them – it’s delicious, trust me). You follow a trail of handprints of famous stars along the harbour front, it’s pretty cool. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t recognise most of the stars (all of them local) except for Jackie Chan. Still, it’s a nice walk and there’s a great atmosphere. There was a live band playing when I went.

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Ideally I was going to combine the Avenue of Stars with watching the Harbour Light Show, but I had another hour and a half to kill by the time I was finished, so I decided to do that another night and go and grab something to eat (chicken and rice) before bed.

That’s all from me for now, but I’ll continue writing about my trip to Hong Kong soon, including Ocean Park, Stanley Market, Mui Wo, Ngong Ping and Mong Kok.

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