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view from Kowloon
Hong Kong; Nov 30, 2004

the low down

What we did: A quick 3-day/2-night stopover to visit our friends, (Grace and Kanad went to college together). We stayed in their gorgeous hi-rise apartment on Hong Kong Island, overlooking the whole city. We explored during the day and enjoyed their gracious hospitality in the evenings.

Overall: Hong Kong is modern city. We found it to be refined, clean, exciting and convenient. After a few months in Africa, it seemed wildly fast-paced and techno-driven. We were happy to see the bright lights and sights of a big city again. We liked Hong Kong Island considerably more than what we saw of Kowloon. The Kowloon side was more gritty and by night was lit up so much that we felt like we were trapped in a tanning bed with no sunglasses. To be fair, however, we were only in Kowloon briefly, so we'd hesitate to make a judgement without more info.

China?: Hong Kong is officially part of China. But if it weren’t for the Chinese flag seen somewhat prevalently, you’d never guess it. You don’t even need a visa to visit, which is certainly different than mainland China. Obviously, volumes could be written about this (and already have been, by folks infinitely more qualified than we are), but suffice it to say that we felt, for all intents and purposes, that Hong Kong was it’s own little country. Our brief foray into Kowloon took us a tiny step closer to mainland China in terms of feel, but it really was only a tiny step.

Price: It was a bit more expensive than we expected – as far as we could tell, the cost of everyday living is almost as high as a big city in the States.

Exchange rate: US$1 = HK$7.8

People: We didn’t really have time to meet anybody, but they all *looked* great. The working folks are all beautifully made-up and smartly dressed in nice suits and some of the latest fashions.

Essentials: None; you could arrive in Hong Kong with nothing and find everything you need pretty quickly, though you’d spend a bit more import stuff.

There are a lot of modern taxis in Hong Kong, too, but none with this much personality.
Specific places we visited/things we did:
  - Dined on the Peak (up the hill to the top of Hong Kong Island, where you have a great view) – definitely worth the cable car trip.
  - Visited a strange park/zoo combo in the middle of the city - you can actually see a jaguar and other animals on your walk to work. If you're near, walk through, but otherwise, missing this is fine.
  - Wandered through Lan Kwai Fong, a favourite ex-pat neighborhood full of NY/SF style bars and the occassional Irish pub.
  - Rode an extremely long George-Jetson-type that moves people around the city (mostly up the hills, obviously). The picture really doesn't do this thing justice; it's amazingly long.
  - Ocean’s Park (a strange amusement park/panda exhibit mix on the less populated portion of Hong Kong Island) – Honestly, we didn’t realize that it was an amusement park; we went to see the (yes, in captivity, but pandas nonetheless). And they were great, so we recommend it for that reason. And while we were there, Grace mustered the courage to ride his first roller coaster.
  - Took the ferry across Hong Kong harbor to to have dinner. Again the view is sensational.
  - Dim Sum at a famous place called City Hall. We’re big Dim Sum fans, so this was great for us.

Check out the hong kong gallery to get a quick visual tour.

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


Don't feel too bad about visiting an amusement park - Ocean Park actually is first and foremost a marine conservation facility which sadly will suffer when Disney opens. The rides are just to keep the bucks coming in. Love the website, keep it up.

--Helen (Beijing, China); Apr 8, 2005