Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hong Kong Day 1-5: Exploring Hong Kong

Hi everyone,

My friend and I had a one week adventure in Hong Kong purely for leisure, culture, and food. I will post a daily breakdown here with tips and photos from my travel.

The first day in Hong Kong was a nice and relaxing evening. Our flight got in at early evening.
We took the MTR express train to Hong Kong, then transferred to a subway line to the station five minutes away from our hotel in Sai Ying Pun. It's a nice fairly quiet but still busy area with a lot of food and markets nearby. We appreciated that everything was in walking distance from the MTR station as well.

Here are some things I noted:
The cost to catch an MTR from the airport is much more expensive than than regular subway fares. It was about $10 USD to catch the airport MTR express. Consider looking into purchasing an Ocotopus card depending on which locations you will be going to and if your trip is longer than a week.

Converting HongKong dollar (HKD) to USD was a little more math than I was used to since most of the places I traveled were closer to a 1:1 conversion ratio. It's currently a 7:1 so everything in HKD needs to be divided by 7 to be USD. An easy rule of thumb we went be by was of course everything under 70 HKD was under $10 USD. I anticipated that I would get better at math after this trip but I just got better at using my calculator. :'D

A few things to note:
  • You do not have to tip in restaurants, but if you feel you had exceptional service, 10 percent.
  • Many people can speak some English. Thank goodness.
  • Traditional breakfasts are very British due to Hong Kong's history of British colonization. Bring on the eggs and toast.
  • If you don't speak Cantonese like me... here's a good tip. Ask for an English menu first just in case they have one. If not, if you find photos of food you want on the outside of restaurant windows, take a picture and go in to order. It's easier than tying to track down the item name in a foreign language on mostly extensive menus! A lot of restaurants don't have English on their menus so this will be helpful.
  • Have a coin purse, pockets, or system for your money. Hong Kong has coins for everything between .50 cents to $10. I spent a lot of time shuffling through coins in my wallet so be prepared if you plan to use cash!
  • Bring a water bottle. Its already easy to get dehydrated during travels but Hong Kong was worse because they often dont serve water at restaurants, but tea instead. Have a water bottle on you and fill it up at water fountains (which were also rare) or at the place you are staying before you leave.
Here is my trip! Enjoy.

This was the amazing view of the mountains during my plane's landing. I was blown away.

We mostly explored and ate during this trip. No surprise there either.

The food the first night was pretty good. We stayed nearby and got some noodles. This mango pudding from a nearby bakery was delicious. Food is relatively the same cost as the U.S. as well. I feel like some places are pretty cheap though, especially some of their simply breads. This mango pudding was 11 HKD.

We paid ~$85 HKD to take to tram and go up the roof to get this view of Victoria Peak. It was really lovely but also really windy. Make sure to bring a jacket if you plan on going at night. The tram only takes 5-10 minutes but we waited in the line to get on for about an hour. It moves fast because 40-50 people get on one tram at a time. Trams run every 8 minutes so be prepared to do some waiting heading up and down. The trams apparently run until midnight but if I were to do this again, I would try to book tickets in advance so I wouldn't have to wait in the line and go around 5:30PM when it's still bright out to get the day time to night time view transition.

This is a view from Kennedytown that I was really pretty. We went to get some dessert afterwards but most places were opening at 6-7PM. 

Wow. Kowloon Park was really pretty. Someone recommended checking out the park but this was more than a park. This park was very big with an aviary, art, flowers, small mazes, and even places to see flamingos. I was pleasantly surprised at how much there was to do here! It had a urban jungle feel to it with all the greenery surrounded by skyscrapers.

It wouldn't be Hong Kong without tea and dimsum. I had so much dimsum during this trip!
I thought I had enough during my trip but now I'm not sure...

We checked out the different night markets and ladies markets which included a walk through the goldfish and pet streets. They had so many puppies out. Too bad I couldn't take pictures. The escalator is from Langham Mall in Times Square. It has the longest escalator in that territory! 

Speaking of markets, get comfortable haggling. There are SO many strips of clothes, bags, souvenirs, etc. that you can buy for yourself or gift. You can haggle in English by asking how much it is or asking if they will take it for a cheaper price. Based on my experience, even if they say no to $20-30 less, walk away at their offer and most of them will call you back to accept your lower offer or meet you with a lower one. I got a purse from $50 off, which was pretty lucky because I was that booth's first customer. But overall, my friend and I were able to get anywhere between $5-30 off the original price they stated. :) I also saw a lot of random cats everywhere... hah!

We went to a cute Shen Restuarant in Sai Ying Pun right by the HKU station for very cute dim sum twice. It was well priced and so adorable. My friend and I loved the fried taro duck on the left the most!

It was always a treat to just walk around in areas like Mongkok to eat yummy treats like fresh egg tarts and to browse around. These are very typical sights from our trip.

Of course, our trip wouldn't be complete without a day at HongKong Disneyland. It was my first time at any Disneyland and it was so much fun! The park was so empty on a weekday so we didn't have to wait for lines at all. The max we waited was 15 minutes for one boat ride towards the end of the day. The fireworks were beautiful and they had cute Easter egg characters hidden throughout the park!
Its also about $10USD cheaper than California's current Disneyland ticket price. The park has less rides but is still a good size to explore on a nice day. All the workers were handing out cute stickers too.

This is random but I was very amused by this Hello Kitty pop up supermarket in Sai Ying Pun area of Hong Kong. A lot of their packaging was hello kitty themed and she was all over the shop! 

Here are some more pictures from Times Square. I tried my first egg tart. It's basically like a waffle but sweeter. The inside of the ball shapes are hollow. 

I clearly ate too many cute dimsum things. The pigs were a pork bbq bao and the green frog like guys were green tea custard. They were really good but this place was a pricey chain restaurant. Oh well. I still enjoyed it. :)

I had a good leisurely time in Hong Kong. They don't serve much water at restaurants and their escalators move really quickly. They call elevators lifts and never see say bye but say "byebye". Every place I visited had large construction sites and their subway stations have touchscreen ticket purchasing. The weather at this time was sort of gloomy yet humid. And they really like mango... which made me happy because I really like mango. This concludes my random facts about Hong Kong and my trip. Where to next... maybe Europe! :D


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