After a quick shower, we headed out on the town. This was Matt’s only day off so it was his chance to show us around the city and get us familiar with the public transportation. Before heading into the city, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at the local shopping center that is part of the condo development. On our way, we ran into another Disneyland CM that we had been hoping to see. We chatted for a bit then it was time to head into Hong Kong.
We took the minibus to the MTR station at Tsing Li where we then made the connection to head into Central (the HK equivalent of Downtown). Matt presented to us our very own Octopus pass which we could use on trams, MTR, Ferries, and busses all around town. At the MTR station, he showed us how to add fare to the card (pretty easy despite the distraction of the information booth that was in the shape of a boat). From there it was off to Hong Kong Central. Matt needed to pick up his travel docs for a trip he was taking before he heads back to the US. He was not sure where exactly the agency was, so we wandered around the CBD and took in some sights – including the tallest building in Hong Kong – the IFC (not International Fried Chicken, but the International Financial Center). Matt finally had an epiphany where the agency was and found it.
It was then off on a whirlwind tour of some of the sights of Hong Kong. First up was Statue Square where we saw a building that looked like it was made of Legos (the HSBC center) as well as an original British government building. Hong Kong is actually a very modern city that looks a lot like San Francisco. We then headed down to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. People have compared it to the Sydney Opera House, and I admit it does add a stunning point on Hong Kong’s spectacular skyline.
Also at the site is the reunification monument dedicated when Hong Kong was transferred back to Chinese rule. We had heard that the tram to the top of the Peak was closed so we took a taxi up to the top, One thing that Hong Kong is full of is South Coast Plaza-esque malls. Here is no exception. At the top of a scenic overlook is a nice indoor mall that you might find in a random LA suburb. Part of the area is under construction so the main scenic overlook building could be refurbished. We discovered that the Tram (actually a Funicular) was still operating and decided to take that back down to the Central Area. Along the way down, I was able to stand at a 45 degree angle on the funicular and not fall down.
Not wanting to miss out on another Hong Kong staple, we took the Star Ferry (thank you Octopus!) over to Kowloon. Kowloon is across Victoria Bay and is home to places such as the Hard Rock and the Peninsula Hotel. Matt showed us where the Hard Rock is so that we could come back later in the trip and get souvenirs for home. We then MTR’ed it over to the Ladies Market near Mong Kok. This area is what I imagined all of Hong Kong to be. It is one of the most densely populated places on the planet (6 people per 1 sq. ft.) and home to some of the coolest little shopping booths. Everything you want can be found here. Matt got me to try Dim Sum on a stick which was actually quite tasty. Around this time I was beginning to get sleepy, but wanted to stay out as long as possible so I could get adjusted to HK time (at this point it was only 5:30pm – but we had been going strong since we landed at 7am). We headed over to meet up with a friend of Matt’s who was in town and staying at another uber-swank hotel – the Langham Place. We chilled for a bit before heading out.
It was time to go to Lan Kwai Fong – one of the big nightclub and bar areas in Hong Kong. It is located near where the travel agency was, and we had a few drinks. After some schmoozing, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at this local Chinese food place. I wasn’t very hungry and was really tired so I didn’t feel like being adventurous with the food. Matt then hailed a cab for Vance and I to head back to the condo. The driver didn’t speak any English, but Matt’s friend gave him directions in Cantonese. It as a long scary cab ride back. We didn’t really know where we were going (since we came into the city a different route) and we were afraid the Cab driver might be confused and drive us to some other town. Thankfully, after drifting in and out of consciousness I recognized some landmarks. Sure enough, we made it back to the condo. I am glad Vance remembered the details of which tower and which unit we were staying at because I only had a vague remembrance from earlier.
We crashed hard almost immediately. I am glad we took time to get the overview of the city. Since Matt will be working most of the time we are here, Vance and I will be exploring a lot on our own. We now have a shaky overview to build on, but at least we can be relaxed about it and not worry too much before we go to Hong Kong Disneyland on Tuesday.