This charming village is full of history and culture dating back to the early 1900s. Stanley Market is the most famous market in HK due to it's beautiful beaches and coves surrounding the area. In the past few years, a new pier and a stone beach walk have been developed, which will help bring in more business. You will find a wide variety of restaurants ranging from French bistros to American taverns.
Stanley Market is similar to Mongkok's Ladies Market. However, the biggest difference between the two are the upscale restaurants and boardwalk.
The bay alongside Stanley Market.
Fishermens' boats in the bay.
The bay from above at Stanley Plaza.
A panoramic shot of the bay.
Stanley Market from the rocks in the bay.
When in Hong Kong, McDonald's is a must try due to the unique flavors and quality of the food. I usually eat healthy, but McDonald's is one of the cheapest eateries around. I ended up ordering at Stanley Market. I thought I was ordering a normal burger and fries, but ending up getting this:
That's right, a black bun..
The burger had two patties, ketchup, mustard, ham and mashed potatoes. You read that right, mashed potatoes... I was a little worried the burger would be repulsive. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a tasty burger. The meal also came with fries, a bag and seasonings. The fries and seasoning are shaken up inside the bag. I ended up having seaweed flavored french fries. YUM.
After lunch, I took a bus to Repulse Bay to check out the beach. Repulse Bay, located in the southern part of Hong Kong island and near Stanley Park, is one of the most spectacular areas of Hong Kong. Its name comes from the 19th century battle of the British army fighting pirates on the beach of now, Repulse Bay. Today, the area is a luxurious residential space for dining, lounging and beach activites. Unfortunately, I picked the worst day to visit because of the scorching heat and cloudy cover. So, my experience wasn't as great as I would've expected.
Me on the beach at Repulse Bay.
Residential apartments on the beach.
After Repulse Bay I took another bus to Waterfall Bay in Aberdeen. This was my favorite part of the trip. I had heard there was a waterfall in the heart of the city that had some nice views overlooking the bay.
It took me about an hour to find the waterfall due to the locals giving me directions in broken English. There was a forest near the bus stop I had gotten off at early. Thinking that was where the waterfall resided, I took the stairs down through the overgrown jungle. I ended up in a make-shift shack village.
One of the shacks in the middle of the forest.
A small stream the locals use to water their crops.
A banana tree.
Expensive apartments overlooking the shack village.
I had guessed right. After walking through the village, I finally got to my destination. I was blown away by the character of the surrounding area.
Apartments overlooking the waterfall.
As I was checking out the waterfall, I noticed other parts of the inlet. To the right of the waterfall was an abandoned concrete lookout and house overlooking the bay.
Below are a few more photos from the same area as the waterfall and abandoned concrete structures.
The lone window of the abandoned building.
A local's dwelling.
A Chinese plate in the middle of the rocky beach.
Kennedy town fish market
As the day was winding down, I took the final bus to the MTR station in Kennedy Town. It had been 35 degrees celsius and 85% humidity that day, so I stopped for a cold beer at the 7/11 near the station. Across the street was a meat/fish shop. I decided to see how the meat in Hong Kong is prepared before being sold and cooked. I was a bit shocked by what I saw while there. U.S. companies don't allow customers to see how their meat is prepared. I was intrigued by how the locals in Hong Kong treated the meat of animals.
*Some of these photos may be a bit disturbing.
Ladies Market, Mongkok
Ladies Market, also known by the locals as "Women's Street" is located in the heart of the Mongkok District. It resides in the section of Tung Choi Street between Argyle Street and Dundas Street. The market started out as a place where the local women went shopping for bargain clothing and small household goods. Nowadays, it is mainly clothing, dolls, small rugs, towels, and touristy trinkets.
I started out my day by going to the Ladies Market in Mongkok. Ladies Market is a great place to shop on your last day of the trip. The market has some great gifts to bring home.
tian tan buddha (big buddha) and Po lin monastery
After the Ladies market, I grabbed the MTR from Mongkok station. I transferred to the Tung Chung line, which ends in the middle of Lantau Island.
Once I made it to Tung Chung, I grabbed the #23 bus that took me 45 minutes to the entrance of the Po Lin Monastery. Being a budget traveler, I couldn't afford to take the tram up the mountain at $19US. The bus ride, at $1.25US, was well worth it. The views were wonderful until the fog started rolling in.
The view of Lantau before the fog rolled in.
After 45 minutes, I arrived at the Po Lin Monastery. The fog was so heavy I couldn't see 50 feet in front of me. It wasn't the best day to see the Big Buddha.
The entrance to Po Lin Monastery.
Two of the Twelve Divine Generals of Po Lin Monastery.
A circle in the middle of Po Lin Monastery.
The Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha).
The Big Buddha at night.
Tai O Fishing village
My next stop after the Big Buddha was Tai O Fishing Village. I took the #21 bus to the village, which was 10 minutes from the Po Lin Monastery.
As I got off the bus, a woman come up to me offering a boat ride through the town and out into the bay. I paid $25HK for the 20 minute boat ride. The views were spectacular.
This area of Hong Kong is known for it's jumping fish and pink dolphins. While in the bay, there were guppies jumping alongside the boat. I did not see any dolphins.
The view from the dock in Tai O.
The boat I took.
The views from the boat.
Once the boat ride ended, I walked around the village. Each shop had different varieties of dried seafood.
wan chai nightlife
After a long day of travelling via bus and MTR, I went out with my friend Waleed to Wan Chai. On Wednesday nights Wan Chai is the place to be due to the bars handing out free champagne to all women. The most popular bar is Carnegie's.
the morning 4am
Still jet lagged, I woke up at 4am to write a post. I ended up sharing a table with one of the hosts of the hostel.
My companion at the table.
With nothing else to do at 9am, I decided to go out and explore the city on my own. My first stop was a neighborhood called Tsim Sha Tsui or TST. It is a well known shopping district with high-end stores ranging from Gucci to Michael Kors.
Gold waterfall in the center of a popular shopping center in TST.
As I walked around TST for a few hours, I decided to grab lunch at an authentic Chinese restaurant. However, it was difficult to pick what I wanted due to the menu being in Chinese. I ended up pointing at the menu and choosing a beef vermicelli noodle dish with a milk tea at Traditional Chinese Noodle.
Milk tea and beef vermicelli noodle dish.
Lunch at Traditional Chinese Noodle in TST.
During my trip to TST, the rain was becoming an issue. I thought Seattle had it bad. Hong Kong has some of the worst torrential downpours of rain.
A rainy day in TST.
After lunch, I decided to walk across Kowloon Park as the rain subsided. Kowloon Park used to be an Army base in WWl and WWll. In 1970, the Hong Kong government turned it into a city park.
One of two ponds in Kowloon Park with Flamingoes.
Trees in Kowloon Park.
After Kowloon Park, I went to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The ticket was extremely cheap, which surprised me. It was only $1.25US. There were three exhibits on three different levels of the museum. The first level was 1600-1700 era Chinese artifacts. Every piece was hand carved with different types of Chinese wood.
The second floor had Chinese paintings from the 1600-1800 era.
The fourth floor had hand carved wooden sculptures by Tong King-Sum, a famous artist in HK. I found these sculptures to be extremely complex. Tong- King-Sum was part of an influential group of post-WWll artists whose passion for art and creativity showed proof that Hong Kong is not only about money hungry entrepreneurs, sweatshop labor work and property development. King-Sum used models to carve his creations. Many of these sculptures took days on end to complete. This was my favorite exhibit because of the skill it took to make these life sized wooden bodies.
After the museum, I walked around the rest of TST and took photos of the area.
This is a typical apartment building in Hong Kong.
The Victoria Harbour view point looking at Hong Kong Island.
These boats are called Junk Boats. They can be rented out for parties, travel or just a leisure trip around the Harbour.
After the city tour, I met up with Waleed, his girlfriend Gabi and his two friends Rob and Navi. We decided to go to Taco Tuesday at Tequila Jack's in TST. On Tuesdays, Tequila Jack's has $10Hk tacos and $35HK Mexican beers on tap. This was a tradition my friends and I had when I studied in HK in 2012.
Arrival and a Walk around Hong kong island
After two flights and 16 hours of traveling, I arrived in Hong Kong. I hopped on a Double Decker bus that runs from the Airport to Causeway Bay. The ride usually takes 25-30 minutes and, is the cheapest way to travel from the airport at $40HK or $5.19US.
With no sim card for my cellphone, I had to ask locals where to find the hostel. I picked the Comfort Hostel HK due to price and location. The hostel is 1 MTR stop from Wan Chai, and 3 MTR stops from Central. Both neighborhoods are the most popular party areas in Hong Kong.
The view from the street level of my hostel.
I called my friend Waleed to meet up. We met at Raw Hookah with another mate who's from St. Martins in The Caribbean. We ordered the Double Green Apple shisha with two shots of Jose Cuervo Tequila and a Corona. We then headed to an Egyptian restaurant, The Nile. Here we had chicken hummus with round pitta bread. It was the best hummus I'd ever had, hands down. The Nile also has great shish from what I hear. I will have to stop by again to try it.
For my first post, I would like to explain how wonderful a place Hong Kong is. Since the British handed over Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997, there have been many changes in that period. For the most part Hong Kong is still a colorful, chaotic, unbelievable place to live and visit. Here are just a few reasons why I think Hong Kong is the "it" destination in the world:
Transportation rules all
Hong Kong is no place for motorists of any kind, with about 400,000 private vehicles for a population of over seven million in the inner city. But it's a public transit utopia. Double decker buses, 10-seater buses, ferries, taxis, railways, a tramway (they call it the MTR), you name it, they have it. And, they’re all interconnected, making Hong Kong’s network one of the most sophisticated in the world. There is no need to own a car in this city. With the likes of these types of transportation, anyone can get to and from their destination with one quick hop on any of the above. The transportation here is what makes Hong Kong such a hustle and bustle city.
a ton of diversity
There are 115 consulates in Hong Kong, more than any other city in the world. This translates into a diverse population in certain areas of the city.
Hong Kong has some of the most breathtaking views a hiker can ask for. Dragon’s Back is my favorite hike in HK due to it’s incredible views of the mini islands surrounding the area. Once you get to the top of the highest mountain of Dragon’s Back, you can see the many islands and beautiful beaches below.
Another hike I enjoyed is Lion’s Rock. This hike gives the individual a different viewpoint of the city. Placed behind the northern part, Lion’s Rock gives breathtaking views of the entire metro area.
Mega-convenient convenience stores
Hong Kong has the highest density of 7-Elevens in the world, with one per 1.5 square mile. This doesn’t count the other competitors in the city such as Circle K.
cultivating city, tropical oasis
About 40 percent of Hong Kong's land is protected by the government, representing one of the highest in the world. A 10-20-minute MTR ride from just about anywhere in the city will take you to pristine beaches and hiking trails through lavish green mountains. In 24 hours, you can experience Bungee jumping off a bridge, diving off a water fall, spotting dolphins swimming in the surf and cruising on a speedboat through the Harbour, with time left to hit the town at one of the popular bar scenes in Hong Kong.
Having a wallet is second nature to us in the U.S. Nowadays, all you need in Hong Kong is an Octopus card. This card allows everyone to pay for all public transportation, fast-food meals (KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut), vending machine sodas, late night 7-Eleven runs, Wellcome grocery runs and even movie tickets. This card is the easiest way to get around if you are worried about thieves.
the shopping scene
Hong Kong is well-known for it’s crowded markets with shoes, electronics, knock-off designer clothes, street food carts, fish stands, flower shops and the famous “Ladies Market” in Mong Kok. From custom tailored suit shops to foot massages, Hong Kong has everything you’d ever need and more.
Hong Kong owns the world's largest collection of skyscrapers with 7,650 and counting. If you are scared of heights like me, I would recommend not stepping foot into these massive structures.
these are where legends are made
Three of the world’s biggest kung fu stars had their breakout moments in Hong Kong: Bruce Lee in “The Big Boss” (1972), Jet Li in “Shaolin Temple” (1982), and Jackie Chan in “Drunken Master” (1978). All three have their names engraved in the walk-of-fame sidewalk at the Harbour.
you are never alone
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world at 16,469 people per square mile. Mongkok is the most populated part of the city with the likes of "The Ladies Market” and popular Hong Kong movie scenes being filmed. The popular shopping district gained entry into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most crowded shopping district in the world. Mongkok's busiest street, Sai Yeung Choi Street, is now sealed off from traffic and home to street performers as well as shoppers.
With one restaurant for every 600 people, Hong Kong boasts one of the highest per-capita combinations of cafes and restaurants in the world. It also makes Hong Kong the worst place to be on a diet. Carbs everywhere!
Hong Kong has some of the best bars and restaurants I have ever been to. Lan Kwai Fong is a neighborhood on Hong Kong Island that has some of the most diverse bars around. From hookah bars, Egyptian tea, Middle Eastern eateries, Dim Sum, burger joints, Australian and English gastropubs to the typical dance club, you are getting a wide range of food and beverage choices. Wan Chai is another favorite of mine. Wednesday nights at Wan Chai has free champagne for all women all night long. Lana Kwai Fong does the same thing on Thursday nights. These two neighborhoods are the most popular nightlife areas of the city.
Almost COMPLETELY climate controlled
f all shopping malls were to close at any period of the day, Hong Kongers would be in a lot of trouble. The average 60 to 65-degree temperature of the 50 malls in Hong Kong is what keeps the population cool during the 100% humidity riddled 100-degree days in the summer. Be prepared to bring a lot of thin clothes if you ever decide to visit Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is such a diverse city in many ways. When people ask what Hong Kong is like, I say it has a New York City vibe with Hawaiian beaches and mountains surrounding it - the best of three worlds!