So long, Hong Kong
The second stop on the Asian Adventure was Hong Kong. As a city girl, I was pretty excited to spend a week exploring one of the busiest places in the world but damn, nothing prepared me for the sheer amount of people and buildings that Hong Kong boasts. As one of Asia's most international and happening cities, the SAR (Special Administrative Region) is a melting pot of things to do and see - as well as Hong Kong Island and Kowloon there are lots of other greener and beachy areas to explore. We didn't get a chance to see everything as a) Hong Kong is exhausting and b) you could probably live there for a year and still not see everything, but we managed to get a real taste of what the city has to offer as well as delve into its rich history and culture. Some recommendations: Central Pier and the Botanical Gardens We made the mistake of leaving our hotel and 'going for a wander'. In Hong Kong you do not wander. It's too hot and too busy, however once you get to the coast, taking a stroll can be pretty pleasant. The Botanical Gardens are a nice bit of tranquility within the concrete jungle.
Central Plaza As a sucker for free sh*t and good views, I made sure to check out Central Plaza. Central Plaza is located in the heart of the business district and is the third highest building in Hong Kong; on the 46th there is a Sky Lobby, which is devoid of tourists and perfect for soaking up Hong Kong's incredible skyline.
Victoria Peak A bit more of a touristy experience but still 100% worth seeing, Victoria Peak is another great Hong Kong location which provides travellers with insane views over the city as well as the sea. The tram ride up the mountain is invigorating if not pretty hair-raising - the tram system has remained the same since colonial times - and there are also souvenir stalls, places to eat and shops along the way. You do have to pay a fee but it's not that expensive.
Mong Kok Mong Kok is perhaps the most buzzing area in Hong Kong. Located on the mainland, it is a maze of narrow streets, shops and restaurants (here we found some of the best dim sum, too.) There were colours and smells to take in at the Flower Market, nick-nacks to shop for at the Ladies' Market and Hong Kong's only remaining night market on Temple Street to wander through. Behold the home of the glorious bubble waffle!
Hike Lion Rock It seemed walking around Hong Kong wasn't getting our blood pumping enough, so we did some research on some of the great walks and hikes to be found just outside the city. Lion Rock was one that we were adamant we should do (can you tell I like views?) It was a bit of an ordeal, however. There had been a typhoon just before we arrived and a lot of the damage was still very evident; virtually all the taxi drivers refused to take us up to the base of the hill because of the detritus. This meant we had to walk - in 30 degree heat, this was a workout in itself. We then ended up using most of our water and didn't leave enough for the actual hike (it was only afterwards that we found out there was a little shop selling ice cold water just around the corner...) The walk took around an hour and it was crazy because we felt so far away from any sort of urban life whatsoever. The views were stunning - probably better than Victoria Peak.
Lantau Island Lantau is the biggest of Hong Kong's islands and made for a great day trip. The cable car trip is pricey but worth the impressive views and it takes you to Ngong Ping, which is the home of the famous Tian Tan Buddha. There are shops, places to eat and a monastery to explore before hopping back on the cable car.
Day trip to Macau In true Rhi style, I had to take a day trip to nearby Macau (why visit one place when you can visit 2?) Macau is a Special Administrative Region similar to Hong Kong in the sense that it was once colonised by a European power but today would not necessarily be considered wholly Chinese. We caught the ferry from Sheung Wan, which was also the neighbourhood we stayed in whilst we were visiting Hong Kong, and spent a few hours wandering around Macau's centre. The Portuguese influence means Macau's architecture is startlingly European and you can easily acquire noodles and a pasteis de nata in the same hour. One silly thing we did was go on a Chinese national holiday, however. This was not fun, I repeat, not fun.
Other recommendations: Watch A Symphony of Lights at Victoria Harbour Everyday at 8pm you can witness a beautiful light show - best of all, it's free! Who knew skyscrapers could look so pretty? History Museum A really incredible museum dedicated to Hong Kong's geological, cultural and political history. It's big, and we spent around 2 hours here, which was just about long enough. Drinks at the Ritz-Carlton Travelling doesn't have to mean slumming it all the time. I like to treat myself here and there throughout a trip, and there was no way I was going to miss out on experiencing the world's highest bar! All in all, Hong Kong was an absolutely crazy place and we packed in a lot of stuff over the course of a week! Like I said earlier, despite its small size there is a lot to it, and I think living here for a time would be a really cool experience as it is a commercial and financial hub as well as incredibly happening and diverse. Not gonna lie, I did start to question whether I should seek my fortune here at some point but then again, it is very far away from home and I don't know if I'd be able to deal with the constant threat of natural disasters! Maybe I'll be back for a visit one day...