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Hong Kong!

This is lagging fairly dramatically, but Hong Kong happened! And that was pretty cool.

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I absolutely lucked out on my hotel room in Hong Kong. The hotel itself wasn't the greatest, but who cares, right? I would just sit at the window and stare. I admit to spending at least a couple of hours in Hong Kong just watching the boats come and go in the harbour, or the hawks riding the thermals as they wheeled above the water.

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And here's the night view, too. My camera does poor work with night views but rest assured it was pretty spectacular. Maybe not the most famous of all vantage points but wow.

I was staying in North Point, and my first day mostly involved a lot of being lost around there. The amount and quality of English spoken around Hong Kong overall was excellent, but less so in this area I found. Didn't really matter though, after two months in Japan I sort of enjoyed being mostly invisible. Obviously Caucasians are still the vast minority but people don't really pay you any extra mind in Hong Kong beyond assuming you speak English.  Haha, although there was a small amount of culture shock when it came to queueing and transactions! I quickly learned how to protect my place in line and to deal with the crazy aggressive (I mean that in the nicest possible way) shopkeepers. Some places if you so much as glanced at the merchandise they practically had you by the arm to sell you things!

The MTR is great though. I'm starting to take amazing public transport for granted in Asia as a whole, and it's super cheap too. After checking out North Point a little, I grabbed an Octopus card and headed for Central and sort of just wandered around for a while.

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Took this from the Central Mid-Levels Escalators. There's a long string of public escalators near Central station, which makes getting around a lot easier when you consider some of the hill walking you'd have to do otherwise! I wandered up this just enjoying the scenery until I got tired and headed back.

The next day I dedicated entirely to Hong Kong Disneyland!

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Disneyland was celebrating Chinese New Year in style, it was neat to see the themed decorations. I'd already been to Tokyo Disney Sea on this trip, but stopping by HK Disney meant that I had now ticked all of the Disneylands in the world off my list! Achievement unlocked! (...until they build more).

I was concerned that going to Disneyland solo would be kind of lame but this turned out not to be the case at all. Disneyland solo, it turns out, is like cheat mode for lines. They need single riders to fill in the gaps when they have odd numbers! For most of the rides I wanted to go on, this meant I had to wait in line for usually no more than 5-10 minutes. When everyone else either had to Fastpass or wait in line for close to an hour.

I knocked over the Mine carts, Mystic Manor, Space Mountain, and Tarzan's treehouse all before lunch.

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Speaking of, The Haunted Mansion is for some reason called 'Mystic Manor' in HK Disney, although it differs a lot from the Haunted Mansion so perhaps that is why.

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Toy Story land! I love Disney's set designs.

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Space Mountain, the classic favourite! I grabbed lunch after this (still fairly early in the day) which left me plenty of time to get a good spot for the parade.

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(The cosplay parade) *cough* Despite having gone to a lot of Disneylands, I've only ever caught one other parade (usually because we'd elect to hit rides while the lines were thinner, or sometimes just because of poor planning). So it was pretty awesome.

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Watching the parades roll past though, you start to realise just how many great films Disney has made. (not even counting to Pixar ones which they really didn't have much to do with). They've certainly had off-periods where they released some fairly mediocre movies but when a company has been around that long... wow. The constant nostalgia hits are amazing.

After that I caught the 3D symphony which was good fun, even if less amazing now that 3D is commonplace. Also 'The Golden Mickeys' musical performances and 'The Lion King' performance. I don't think I've ever crammed that much into one day at Disney before.

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The Magic Castle looks kind of ominous on a cloudy night though.

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As the night rolled on, I headed to the souvenir stores and slowly made my way out of the park. Amazing. Does anyone not like Disneyland?

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Side note, this was perhaps the first time I had noticed the famous numbers superstition rearing its head in a hotel. This hotel was really enthusiastic about it though! 3,4,5,6,13, and 24? I'd heard about the number 4 one of course, and asking another patron in the elevator number 6 can apparently mean 'falling' but not sure what's wrong with 3 and 5! Surprised they include 13 too, thought that was a western thing.

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The next day I went on an epic quest to attempt to find the post office. I felt pretty stupid once I did find the (incredibly giant and obvious) general post office but it took me a good two hours. I did stumble across this place on the way though.  Is... is this what I think it is? Do we need to start having that ethical discussion already?

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Also came across this most epic skyscraper. I think this is the Bank of China building? Probably my favourite of all the epic skyscrapers.

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It's the year of the horse! There were horse decorations everywhere, it was seriously insane, my twelve year old niece would have died of happiness. What do people and companies do with all of the horse-themed decorations once the new year period is over? Do they go into storage for the next twelve years? Are there warehouses full of snake and rat and dog and dragon decorations all waiting their turn?

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I caught the Star Ferry from the Central Piers... honestly mostly because of the Card Captor Sakura movie. Does anyone remember that? It was actually pretty good. That movie was the first reason I ever wanted to visit Hong Kong, and probably influenced more of my sight-seeing decisions than I want to admit.

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The view was as amazing as advertised. Hong Kong really has one of the coolest skylines I've seen in a major city.

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I hit up a couple of the malls near the pier, lured there by the amazing decorations. Kind of reminds me of the jellyfish area in Journey for some reason.

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Then wandered along down the Avenue of the Stars. Made me want to go rewatch a lot of movies! Found Jackie Chan's square, along with Jet Li's, Stephen Chow's, Bruce Lee, Chow Yun Fat... honestly kind of surprised how many names I recognised! The squares themselves might have been a little more impressive if the handprints were done in bronze or something other than cement though... surely that compromises the longevity of them?

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They also had a life-sized statue of Bruce Lee! Badass.

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I wandered up and down along the river banks for a while. This junk ship went sailing past a few times, carrying tourists I suppose? Made for a picturesque sight. Saw a line for one of the vendors so joined it and got some shredded, buttery squid. Found a Starbucks and killed some time drinking hot chocolate while admiring the view as afternoon turned to dusk turned to night.

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This was the view I was hanging out for. It feels like the end result of an arms race in neon lights. My poor little old Ixion cannot do it justice.

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At 8pm every night there is the 'Symphony of Lights' light and laser show, a little cheesy but good fun, it can be hard to know where to look sometimes!

I also got approached by like three different groups of students completing their English homework over the course of the afternoon and evening. Most of them were super good at it, which makes me feel terrible about my Japanese skills when a bunch of kids that couldn't have been more than 12 years old are damn near fluent! I took exception with the dessert survey though, as a connoisseur of dessert I feel it gave them unrepresentative data. I like both eastern and western desserts, I'm just exposed to the latter more! And their list of favourite desserts didn't even include anything from the ice-cream family! (le gasp). It was kind of neat though.

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Then it was back to the MTR. Those Kolechian bastards!  (Anyone else play Papers Please? I haven't managed more than a few endings yet but wow, talk about a game which makes you agonise over choices.)

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The next day I headed to Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island despite the fairly rubbish weather. Originally planned on catching the bus but couldn't find it so forked over money for the cable car instead, And on the way there, saw these people walking the track. Talk about keen! It was a pretty long trip in cable car, I'm not sure that's a hike you could make in a day!

The funniest thing about the cable car though, they do the typical thing where they take your picture to try to sell you a commemorative photo.... but when you hop out of the cable car on the other end, there is a small hoard of staff waiting with your printed picture in their hands that descend upon you like a flock of locusts. It was terrifying! They identify you by the picture and single you out and sell it to you and I try to brush them off and they're like 'LOOK AT IT, YOU HAVE TO AT LEAST LOOK AT IT.'

I am kind of proud I escaped without buying that photograph.

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The area was very touristy but as a tourist I guess I didn't mind so much. The fog made the visibility quite poor, but it was still pretty neat even if perhaps it came at the price of missing out on some of the views.

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Tian Tan Buddha itself. Having seen a few giant Buddhas recently, I feel this was a pretty good one.  Had to climb something like 268 steps or something to get up there though. But Japan had prepared me for that moment! I don't think I could have managed had I come straight from Australia.

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Some of the statues around the giant Buddha.

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Prime photo spot, I took about three different groups of people's photos around here.

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This bull (or water buffalo? I can't tell) was hanging out, doing his thing.

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After the Buddha I kept following the path leading further on, and this was where the awful weather actually got kind of cool and atmosphere. Almost Silent Hill-esque.

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Nature reclaims another dwelling.

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Then, looming out of the fog came the Wisdom Path. I didn't really know what to expect with this, but damn was it a neat sight. No English unfortunately so the wisdom is lost on me but 100 points for atmosphere.

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 I felt like I'd stumbled upon an important landmark in a video game.

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Got dim sim for lunch that day! The dim sim in Hong Kong is so amazing. I still dream of those sweet egg buns in the upper right. Hong Kong has really mastered egg as an ingredient, pretty much every egg dish I sampled was fantastic. Mmm, those egg tarts!

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The weather was persistently foggy though, pretty much for the entire rest of the time in Hong Kong. My excellent weather luck was finally at its end.

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Next day I headed to Prince Edward station to check out some of the markets in that area.

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First stumbled upon 'goldfish street'. There are so many aquariums! An entire street full, it's hard to imagine they all do enough business! Not just fish either, I saw some truly impressive tortoises, as well as snakes and lizards and other reptiles for sale.

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Most of the aquariums have their fish displayed like this. It makes for an amazing sight, although I have to wonder how this works. Because small fish might be okay for a day or two but you can't really keep fish in bags for more than a few hours, and surely they don't sell ALL those fish in that time? Is there a regular rotation of releasing those fish back into the tanks and putting fresh bags up every few hours? Kind of interesting.

Parts of the street were amazingly pungent, though. Holding your breath was necessary, for a good chunk of one block.

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The weather didn't stop the markets at all though. Hit up the clothing market, got some okay bargains, though I suspect I am not nearly an aggressive enough haggler to get the really good deals. Heh, although I did see one elderly French couple in a store haggle one guy way down without even realising it, just because the old man was uninterested in what was happening and his wife didn't understand a thing.

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After that, I found my way to Bird Garden!

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It was pretty neat, although it was very quiet in the poor weather (or possibly because of the most recent bird flu scare). Still, loved seeing it, all the birds and birdcages and even some pretty hardcore feed in there! There was a whole bucket of baby frogs, and boxes of live crickets and other insects.

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The tail end of Flower Market. It's amazing how many florists can exist side by side. Makes for a lovely walk but how do people decide which florist to visit?

Loved that whole area though. Themed shopping districts like that just appeal to me as an enthusiast I guess. Same as in Japan with Jimbocho for books and Akihabara for games and anime, there's something neat about being able to go somewhere and just revel in your interest of choice.

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Double-decker trams!!!

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Also saw this wandering around. McDonalds delivers in Hong Kong in Japan, guys! It never even occurred to me that could be a thing!

That concludes that day. I had dim sim again for dinner that night, I have a feeling I screwed up the ordering card but the staff just substituted things for me as they saw fit and it was all delicious so I didn't care and really am just grateful they spared me the embarrassment.

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The next day, on my way to Victoria Peak, I was lucky enough to catch a dragon dance!

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From across the road (arguably a better vantage point between the lights), but it was easily the most awesome dragon dance I've yet seen. I'd caught the odd tail end glimpse of a couple around Hong Kong, or more often the aftermath as staff cleaned up streamers and confetti but this was the first one one caught start to finish. Had some crazy cool stunts, along with bubbles and unfurling scrolls and it was just super cool.

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This feels too awesome to be graffiti.

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Loved this building.

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Also kept stumbling across all sorts of neat and gorgeously lush parks all over Hong Kong. I wanted to get to more of them actually, such as the one in Kowloon or the Geopark, but between rubbish weather and a shortage of time didn't make it. :( Something for next time!

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I did, however, make it up to Victoria Peak, since it had been strongly recommended to me by several people. Again, though, the weather was awful - the visibility wasn't great but the real problem was that it was bitterly cold and windy! This wouldn't have been too much of a problem, but the past few days of delightfully mild weather meant I really wasn't dressed appropriately for the cold. If only I'd thought to bring my gloves and scarf and hat like I did everywhere in Japan it would have been fine! Alas, I spent the majority of my time checking out the shopping malls and eating.

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Wonton noodle soups. The shrimp one was decent but the pork one turned out to have bamboo shoots and some kind of black fungus in it and while I'm sure some people would like it took a bit of willpower to choke that down. Easily erased by amazing egg tarts though!

And despite the weather, I did manage to tolerate it for a good ten minutes just to admire the view.

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 Would have loved to see this at night, or on a clear day. Another thing for next time!

That pretty much wrapped up my time in Hong Kong. The next day was an early start straight to the airport. But just, wow. On scenery alone Hong Kong is a solid 10, mountains, water, cityscape, it has it all.

Overall, despite some unluckiness with the weather Hong Kong was a blast, it really has a bit of everything. I'd wanted to go for ages so super happy to tick that one off my bucket list... but of course I already want to go again!  There are too many amazing places in the world.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
crysaliz
Mar. 1st, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC)
Wow, haha you've been too places in hk that I haven't made it too yet. Really interesting to see it from an outside view.
sinnatious
Mar. 2nd, 2014 06:38 am (UTC)
LOL really? Guess it's like Londoners never visiting their famous sites!
caterfree10
Mar. 2nd, 2014 01:53 am (UTC)
Dang man, I am super jealous of you now having been to all of the Disney lands bc I haven't even been to one. orz;;; Also, I do actually know one person who doesn't like Disney! though that's still one person in god only knows how many people I've come across soooo. xD

And I think the number one thing I'm getting from these photos is that Hong Kong is gorgeous even when the weather isn't all that great. Says something about a place, yeah? :Bb

And IIIIIIII REMEMBER THE CCS MOVIE. I really wish I didn't lose the DVD now bc now I'm craving a rewatch after this post ffffffffffffffff *headdesk* I would do a lot of things to have the whole series on netflix or something tho
sinnatious
Mar. 2nd, 2014 06:43 am (UTC)
HK really is just downright gorgeous all the time. The city itself is a sight, but with the harbour and then the mountains....

Just pirate it or stream it or something, you have the DVD somewhere after all! I know what you mean though, after visiting HK I've been wanting to rewatch it so bad too. I normally don't like those sorts of throwaway movie plots in tv anime adaptations but the first CCS one was awesome!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )