Below is a list of links to the various locations that my wife and I visited during our visit to the incredible city of Hong Kong:
Below is a list of links to the various locations that my wife and I visited during our visit to the incredible city of Hong Kong:
Prior Posting: Charterhouse Hotel
This is the last posting I am going to do on my recent trip to Hong Kong, so I figured ending a series of postings on visiting the city would not be complete without sharing some pictures of the Hong Kong skyline at night. The best place to view the Hong Kong skyline is from the Kowloon peninsula across from Hong Kong Island. The best way to get to Kowloon is by taking one of the Star Ferries that regulary traverse Victoria Harbor. My wife and I took the tram to Central Hong Kong from our hotel in Wan Chai and walked down to the Star Ferry pier. The view of Central Hong Kong just from the ferry pier was quite awesome:
The views of not only Central Hong Kong were good but the view of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center was also quite good:
The views would only get better from Kowloon, but first we had to get there and to get there meant taking a ferry from the Star Ferry Pier:
The ferry costs less then one US dollar to take and arrive regularly at the various piers to take commuters to not only Kowloon but also a number of other locations throughout the entire territory of Hong Kong:
From the pier we could see our ferry boat about to arrive to take us to Kowloon:
The seating on the ferry is not exactly comfortable because it is just bench seats but it only takes the ferry about 10 minutes to cross the harbor:
From the ferry I was able to see the various other ferries traveling across Victoria Harbor:
As the ferry boat approached the Kowloon side of the harbor there was a few cruise ships docked in the port:
Once in Kowloon we exited the boat at the ferry terminal and walked along the side of the harbor towards the area most popular for people wanting to view the Hong Kong skyline. This area is easy to find because there is a big large clocktower:
This harbor side park was packed when my wife and I visited it because the Olympics were being played and there was plenty of attractions and shows going on promoting the Olympic spirit:
However the Hong Kong skyline was a whole lot more interesting then the Olympic show, which was highlighted by Hong Kong’s largest building the 2 International Finance Center:
The Bank of China Tower was also one of the other prominent buildings of the nigh time Hong Kong skyline whose outline lights would light up and flash in various patterns:
Samsung was represented in the Hong Kong skyline with a smaller building with one of the largest neon signs proudly flashing Samsung:
Besides the buildings it was interesting to watch the various boats cruising across the harbor such as this Chinese junk:
After checking out the skyline it was time to head back to Central Hong Kong on the Star Ferry where we continued to watch the Central Hong Kong light show:
Along the way I was able to get take a picture of the Central Plaza building in Wan Chai:
Pretty soon the Central Hong Kong Star Ferry terminal came into view:
From Central Hong Kong my wife and I then took the tram back to Wan Chai:
By the end of our stay my wife and I both agreed that the Hong Kong skyline at night is the most spectacular we have seen, even better then New York. Does anyone have any other recommendation of the best nightline skyline they have seen?
Overall, though we had a great trip to Hong Kong, which is truly an international and extremely dynamic city. It is one of those places in the world where people who have lived there their whole lives will always find new interesting things because the diversity and ever changing nature of this city. My wife and I definitely look forward to returning to Hong Kong one day.
Prior Posting: Tin Hau Temple
My wife and I had neither been to Hong Kong before our visit to this one time pearl of the British Empire. So I relied on doing some Internet searching to find a good but yet affordable hotel that was located in an area that allowed for easy touring of the city. The hotel I settled on was the Chaterhouse Hotel located in the Wan Chai neighborhood on Hong Kong Island:
The first thing I liked about the hotel was that it provided free shuttle bus service from the airport to the hotel. The bus stops at a handful of hotels, but it was still pretty fast and convenient especially for a couple like us that had never been to Hong Kong before. From the start we found the service at the hotel to be excellent with most of the staff proficient in English. The Wan Chai neighborhood can appear a bit run down in areas, but the Charterhouse Hotel was in fact quite nice and modern. Here is a picture of the lobby:
From the lobby we went to our room and found it to be quite small, but it was clean and had everything we needed in it such as a comfortable bed, refridgerator, coffee maker, microwave, and TV:
We did find the restroom to be a bit odd since it is not in a separate room, but that wasn’t a big deal:
Something else we liked was the fact that we also received free breakfast. The restaurant in the hotel was clean and once again super-friendly service. For breakfast it had a buffet setup that served both western and Asian breakfast dishes:
Here is the western style breakfast that I ate:
Here is the Asian style breakfast that my wife ate:
Here are our meals all together:
Like most hotels the Charterhouse also had a comfortable lounge that was useful to hang out at night after spending an entire day walking around touring Hong Kong:
Overall we had a great stay at this hotel which was located close to the tram line and most of the major attractions on Hong Kong Island. The hotel was additionally clean, offered friendly service, plus the great breakfast buffet in the morning. We got all of this for approximately $84 US dollars a night. We had no complaints for that price and would definitely stay here again the next time we travel to Hong Kong.
Next Posting: Hong Kong Nights
Prior Posting: Happy Valley
In Hong Kong there are literally hundreds if not thousands of temples dedicated to various Chinese Gods. For example there are approximately 60 temples in Hong Kong dedicated to just one of these ancient Chinese God, Tin Hau. Of all the Tin Hau temples there are none more well known then the Tin Hau Temple Garden located Tin Hau Temple Road on Hong Kong Island:
The present temple buildings date from 1868 while construction of the original temple dates back to 1747 which was when the current temple bell was constructed. Legend has it that this temple was built after an incense burner was found floating miraculously on the sea. This incident gave rise one of the pre-colonial names for Hong Kong Island, Hung Heung Le (Red Incense Burner Island). Above the entry door there are two fiery dragons that guard the temple to ward off evil spirits:
The temple is famous for the fine Shek Wan figurines on its and eaves and for the quality of its stone carvings around the entrance inside the temple , the main altar is dedicated to Tin Hau, Goddess of the Sea and patron saint of seafarers, with side altars dedicated to Tsoi San, the God of Wealth. Tin Hau is by far the most popular Chinese God in Hong Kong due to the island’s history of fishing and seafaring.
Something of interest about temples in Hong Kong is that they are not just dedicated to one particular religion. This temple is primarily Taoist, but is also used for Buddhism, Confucianism, and ancestral worship rituals:
Other altars in the side halls are dedicated to Tin Hau and to the Goddess of childbirth:
Taoist temples are particularly colorful especially with the color red. The Taoist associate red with good luck which is why this temple decorated extensively with this color:
Within the temple there are several shrines to the black face Pau Kung, the Lenient Judge of the Underworld. He is worshiped in the hope that he will be merciful to the souls in his care:
It is popular with Taoist as well as with ancestor worship to make offerings to the Gods. The simplest offering is to burn some incense, but often Chinese can be seen making fruit offerings to the Gods:
Something I read that is unique to the Hong Kong Chinese is that they will actually leave take out food as offerings at the local temples. Besides being a popular location for the Hong Kong Chinese, Tin Hau Temple has become a growing tourist attraction. The increasing fame of this temple has in recent years caused the nearby MTR subway station to be named after the temple. This has only further helped tourists to find and experience this unique temple that provides further insight into the intriguing Chinese culture.
Next Posting: Charterhouse Hotel Review
Prior Posting: Hollywood Road
Here are some pictures from the Happy Valley district of Hong Kong which is famous for its horse racing stadium:
Next Posting: Tin Hau Temple
Prior Posting: Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan Neighborhood
From the Sheung Wan market area of Hong Kong my wife and I then headed up hill towards the antique district of the city that is located along Hollywood Road. This road is the second road to be constructed in Hong Kong with only Queens Road Central which runs through Sheung Wan being constructed before it. Hollywood Road today connects Sheung Wan with Central Hong Kong and all along this road it is lined with various antique stores:
Many people think Hollywood Road is named after Hollywood, California. However, Hollywood road actually pre-dates the film industry Hollywood by many decades. The street was first named in 1844 after the family home of Hong Kong’s second British Governor, Sir John Francis Davis. However, Hollywood Road and the Hollywood film industry do have one relation and that is the fact that parts of the movie The World of Suzie Wong was shot along Hollywood Road.
However, this road is not known for movies but for antiques:
The road has long been an antiques district because foreign merchants would put antiques up for sale for people returning to Europe to buy to either keep for their own private collections or sell in Europe. Many of the antiques are really quite stunning but the prices in this market are not for the casual shopper expect to pay many thousands of dollars for things as little as a vase:
The prices are not the only thing shoppers have to worry about, there are allegedly quite a bit of fraudulent antiques for sale in the market and thus only wise collectors can tell the frauds from the real deal:
Not having that kind of know how or money to go shopping for antiques, my wife and I just browsed through the various stores over flowing with goods. Even if we did by something, most of these antiques would be to big to fit in our luggage anyway.
I would say the highlight of of Hollywood Road though, was not the antiques but the Man Mo Temple:
This traditional Chinese temple was quite elegant, which can be seen just by looking at the doors on the building:
The inside of the temple was just as elegant and really quite photogenic with its bright colors and smoky ambiance because of all the burning incense:
This temple was built to honor two Gods, the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). However, that doesn’t stop the temple from putting various other deities on display as well:
When we visited the temple it was actually quite busy with both tourists taking pictures, like myself and the various Chinese residents praying at the different shrines in the temple:
Here is where inside the temple people can leave prayers to the various Chinese gods:
In one of the rooms in the temple it actually holds the cremated remains of various people interned in the temple:
On the outside of the temple there is a small fireplace for people to burn prayers and offering of fake money to the dead:
This temple is also one of the oldest in the city because it was first constructed in 1847 just a few years after the construction of Hollywood Road. The temple is now one of the top historic sites in the city and is so popular that it has even been featured in a X-Box game.
After finishing our site seeing at the Man Mo Temple we then went to check out the world’s longest outdoor escalator:
This escalator runs in different directions during the day that corresponds with rush hour pedestrian traffic that have to commute up down the steep lower slopes of Victoria Peak this area of Hong Kong is comprised of. The escalator is officially known as the Central-Mid Levels Escalator and was officially opened to the public on October 15, 1994. The escalator is 800 meters long and rises 135 meters in altitude up the hill. An estimated 55,000 people use this escalator every day free of charge. To ride the whole way on the escalator takes about 20 minutes.
Along the way on the escalator my wife and I could see the various aspects of Hong Kong pass by us such as its various historic colonial era buildings now surrounded by modern skyscrapers:
We could also see the back alley ways turned into food stalls for pedestrians:
Of course there was plenty of Chinese restaurants and stores to see pass by us as well:
We eventually arrived back in Central Hong Kong where the escalator ends, thus completing our full day of touring around the various markets and sites in the Sheung Wan neighborhood. Though the markets in Korea such as Dongdaemun and Namdaemun are much larger then the ones in the Sheung Wan area, the area was still fun to wander around and experience the sights and smells of the great city of Hong Kong.
Next Posting: Happy Valley
Prior Posting: Historic Buildings of Central Hong Kong
Continuing my tour around Hong Kong my wife and I decided to go check out the markets located on the west side of Hong Kong island which is known locally as the neighborhood of Sheung Wan:
Sheung Wan is historically known to the people of Hong Kong as the location where the first British colonists arrived and began construction of what would one day become one of the world’s great cities. There is little of this colonial history left in this neighborhood because it has long been replaced with a variety markets that cater both to foreign and local tastes. The market most well known for catering to tourists is the Western Market which is housed in one of Hong Kong’s oldest market buildings:
The building that currently houses the market was first constructed in 1906 as a Harbor Office. However, land reclamation over the ensuing decades found the Harbor Office far from any harbor and was thus eventually transfromed into a food market. In 1988 it once again transformed into its current configuration as a market that caters to tourists. The market is easy for tourists to get to because the tram stops right in front of this hard to miss building. My wife and I walked inside the marketplace and to be honest we were not all that impressed:
The place was definitely touristy with its imitation British soldiers and phone booths:
But, what really got us was the smallness of the market and how overpriced everything was compared to other areas in Hong Kong. I guess we are so used to the giagantic markets that we have seen in Seoul that this just really fails to compare. The market had a few restaurants, food stalls, tourist stores, and a whole lot of clothing booths:
The coolest store I thought in the market was this military store filled with mostly knick knacks from the Chinese military:
The guy who ran this store had models of just about every piece of Chinese military equipment you can imagine. He even had Chines military uniforms for sale with matching model AK-47s’ to go with them:
If you want models of Chinese hand guns he has those too, though I wouldn’t recommend tourists buying these and trying to bring them back in your luggage though:
The most curious thing I saw for sale in the store though had to be the model of George Bush standing on the head of Saddam Hussein:
Why that was for sale in the store, I have no idea. A toy model glorifying President Bush was not something I expected to see in Hong Kong of all places. However, from the handful of conversations I had with English speaking Chinese residents in Hong Kong not one of them had a bad thing to say about President Bush. In fact many of them were actually quite happy that he attended the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. From my experience it seemed that people had an indifferent to some what positive opinion of President Bush. This is just a perception I received from my limited talks with Chinese residents, but it would be interesting to hear what long time expat residents of Hong Kong have to say about the Chinese views on President Bush.
Anyway we spent about an hour in the market building with most of my time consumed at the military store and my wife browsing through the clothing stores. After finishing up at the market we then made the short walk to Sheung Wan’s wholesale food market that filled with various shop catering to the city’s many restaurants. Of course plenty of sea food can be seen for sale at the wholesale market:
This market is supposed to be the best place to purchase shark fins to make shark fin soup from. The market also has many stores that sells a variety of wholesal herbs and ginseng for Hong Kong’s many restaurants and stores:
These stores were not unlike something you would see in Namdaemun Market in Seoul. However, here is something I have never seen in Namdaemun and that is deer antlers:
There were a handful of stores that specialized in selling deer antlers. A guy I was talking to at my hotel was telling me Sheung Wan is also the place if you know the right contacts to purchase many illegal animal products such as tiger bones or bear bladders. However, I saw nothing of the sort while visiting the market myself.
However, something that I did see that made feel like I was walking around Namdaemun was the amount of stores that sold Korean ginseng:
It wasn’t just in Sheung Wan that I saw Korean ginseng for sale. Just about any store in Hong Kong that specialized in selling herbs or ginseng would have Korean ginseng for sale:
This market with its various seafood, ginseng, herbal, and various other stores was much more interesting then the Western Market. This market had more of an Asian feel to it, but if you have been to markets in Korea you won’t be all that impressed. The major markets in Korea are definitely larger and better then ones I saw in Hong Kong, but the markets in Hong Kong were still fun visit though in order get that authentic Chinese marketplace experience.
After finishing our walkaround the Sheung Wan wholesale market, my wife and I decided it was time to go to Hollywood, but not the Hollywood your are thinking of.
Next Posting: Hong Kong’s Hollywood Road
Prior Posting: Central Hong Kong – Part 1
After visiting the observation platform on the top of the Bank of China Tower my wife and I then proceeded to walk over to St. John’s Cathedral which was located just a short walk from the Bank of China Tower:
St. John’s is the oldest Anglican cathedral in the Far East with it being constructed in 1849. The church’s construction was completed just eight years after the first British naval officers landed on Hong Kong island in order to not only provide religious services for the British colonists but to spread Christianity in the new territory as well. Here is how the church looked before the current metropolis of Hong Kong was built around it:
The building is constructed in the classical cross shape and serves as the Diocesan cathedral for the Diocese of Hong Kong Island. The most famous leader of the church would be Reverend Alaric P. Rose who conducted the morning service in St. John’s despite the fact that the Japanese were bombing Honk Kong during World War II and artillery shells were landing outside the cathedral. The British after a nearly three week fight to defend Hong Kong, eventually surrendered to the Japanese and Hong Kong remained occupied for four years until liberation. Reverend Rose would spend those four years in an internment camp with other allied prisoners before being liberated and returning to St. John’s. He other church clergy restored the cathedral and began to rebuild its congregation after the war. September 9th, 1945 was when the first Sunday church service was held after the liberation of Hong Kong.
I found the shutters on the side of the church to be quite nice:
The inside of the cathedral is really beautiful and has remained little changed from when the cathedral was first constructed:
I could find no information about the congregation of the church but from what I could see while visiting the cathedral, most of the people that were worshiping there were ethnic Chinese with a few caucasian people. Looking at the church’s website most of its services are in English with a few in Chinese and even one in Filipino due to the high number of Filipinos that work in Hong Kong. 1/5 of the non-Chinese that live in Hong Kong are in fact Filipinos.
Across a small park from St. John’s Cathedral is another piece of historic architecture, the Former French Mission Building:
The current structure was constructed in 1917 over the original structure that served as the home for the first British governor of Hong Kong back in 1843. A few years later the building served as the home for the Legislative Council of Hong Kong before being bought by the French Mission who renovated the building into the one seen today:
What the building looked like before the renovation can be seen in the prior historic picture of St. John’s Cathedral above that shows the Former French Mission building adjacent to it. The French Mission owned and operated the building until it sold the structure back to the Hong Kong government in 1953. To this day, all around the building evidence of its former owners can still be seen:
After the sell of the building the Hong Kong government used it as the headquarters for their education department, the district court, and now finally the Court of Final Appeal. Both of these buildings are quite historic with interesting histories that are definitely worth checking out if in Central Hong Kong. How the old blends so well with the new in Hong Kong is really one of the greatest strong points of this great city.
Next Posting: Sheung Wan Neighborhood
Prior Posting: Hiking On Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak
As I mentioned before riding the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak is quite possibly the most popular thing visitors to Hong Kong do. However, another must see in Hong Kong is without a doubt the downtown area of the city known simply as Central Hong Kong or just Central for short. Since my wife and I were staying in Wan Chai, getting to Central is a pretty far walk. So we decided to take the tram over to Central:
All the Hong Kong trams are double decker and are extremely cheap to use. It costs a flat fee $2 Hong Kong dollars to use the tram which is roughly like 25 cents no matter the distance you are going. My wife and I liked sitting on the upper deck because you get a great view of the city:
The trams are a great way to see Hong Kong on the cheap. My wife and I during our stay in Hong Kong rode the trams all over the city to see what the various neighborhoods were like:
Seating in the trams is pretty basic and unless it is rush hour it is pretty easy to find a seat:
For tall guys like myself I had to continuously avoid hitting my head on the ceiling of the tram because there wasn’t much clearance but for 25 cents to use the tram I really couldn’t complain about the minor inconveniences.
After about a 20 minute ride on the tram we arrived in Central Hong Kong to be welcomed by a number of tall buildings to include the tallest of them all the Two International Finance Center:
The building is the tallest in the city at 415 meters and a taxi driver earlier during our visit told us that the locals call it the “Big Erection” which made us chuckle.
Easily the strangest building we saw was not the “Big Erection” but the Lippo Centre:
Due to all the bulging glass on the building it is known as the “Koala Building” to locals because the bulges look like koalas hanging on a tree.
Not all the buildings in Hong Kong are flashy modern looking buildings. There are plenty of older buildings that remain in the city that integrate very well with the city’s modern skyline such as the Bank of China Building that was first constructed in 1950:
This building was once the headquarters of the Bank China before the completion of the Bank of China Tower nearby. The building is now just used as a sub-branch of the bank. This building is no where near being one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong today but from 1950-1966 it was in fact the tallest building in Hong Kong.
Another example of a historic building in Central Hong Kong is the Legislative Council Building:
This building was first constructed in 1912 on reclaimed land. That is incredible considering the building is now in the middle of Central, which goes to show how much of Hong Kong island’s buildings are on reclaimed land. The building was originally built to house the Supreme Court but since 1985 has served as the home to the city’s Legislative Council. The memorial in front of the building is in honor of the people who died during World War II which saw the city occupied by the Japanese.
Hong Kong has lots of famous buildings but the Bank of China Tower in the middle of Central Hong Kong is definitely one of the most recognizable:
The inside of the building was quite nice and not all that busy:
The place was decorated for the Olympics that were going on during our stay in Hong Kong. The people in Hong Korea were quite excited about hosting the games:
The Bank of China Tower has a special elevator that takes visitors to an observation platform to get some great views of the city. Using the elevator is free and really anyone visiting Hong Kong should check it out. From the observation platform the building that stood out more then any other was of course the “Big Erection”:
The Bank of China Building as well as the Legislative Council Building are directly below the viewing platform:
This picture provides a good view of how much the Bank of China Building has been out grown by all its neighboring buildings since it gave up its title as the tallest building in Hong Kong in 1966. The picture also gives some perspective of how much land has been reclaimed over the years in Hong Kong considering the Legislative Council Building was originally built on reclaimed land.
The edge of this reclaimed can be seen where the ferry boats leave from Star Ferry Pier:
As can be seen in the picture the reclaiming of land in Hong Kong continues. It makes me wonder if one day we will see Hong Kong island connected to the mainland if so much reclamation of land continues? Across Victoria Harbor the skyline of the Kowloon peninsula could be seen:
There were plenty of cruise boats I could see at anchor in the harbor but the boats I saw more then any other were these old looking Chinese junks cruising across the harbor:
Some other buildings of interest that I could see from the lookout was the British Government House:
Back during the British colonial days this is where the chief British executive of Hong Kong lived. The building was first constructed in 1855 but was remodeled during the Japanese occupation during World War II which is why the building does not currently look like neo-classical British architecture.
St. John’s Cathedral however is pure British architecture:
This building is the oldest church in the Far East with it first being constructed in 1849. After seeing the cathedral from above we decided after exiting the observation deck that we would next head over to this historic building.
Next Posting: Central Hong Kong – Part 2
Prior Posting: On Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak
For those visiting the summit of Hong Kong’s beautiful Victoria Peak, it is also well worth taking a hike along the trail that runs along the side of the peak that provides even more spectacular views of the stunning skyline and landscape of Hong Kong. The trail begins behind the massive Peak Galleria shopping center that visitors taking the tram exit from. The trail is well maintained and surrounded on each side by thick vegetation:
The summit of Victoria Peak is 552 meters with the trail just below it traveling around the mountain at around 500 meters in altitude. This altitude provides some great views of the city:
The building that stands out more then any other along the peak trail is without a doubt the 2 International Finance Centre which at 415.8 meters is the tallest structure in Hong Kong and the fourth tallest building in the world:
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was another famous landmark of Hong Kong that was easily visible from the trail:
The Central area of Hong Kong which is dominated by the Bank of China Tower:
The Bank of China Tower was designed by famed American architect I.M. Pei and construction of the tower was completed in 1990. The building at the time was the tallest in Hong Kong at 367.4 meters. However the building is very controversial in Hong Kong due to its poor Feng Shui characteristics. The Chinese practice of Feng Shui is used by nearly everyone in Hong Kong, however The Bank of China Tower was designed without regarding any principles of Feng Shui. Because of this many people in Hong Kong consider the building to be very unlucky.
Besides these buildings, every other major building in Hong Kong can be seen from the trail as well:
Besides being able to see the buildings on Hong Kong Island the buildings on the Kowloon peninsula were also readily visible to include this massive building under construction on the peninsula:
I have no idea what this building is but it appears that it is going to easily be one of the tallest buildings, if not the tallest in the city once its construction is completed.
As I continued down the trail less of Hong Kong’s skyline became visible as I walked towards the outskirts of the city:
Besides the construction of new buildings, from the trail I could also see a massive new bridge being constructed as well:
The further I continued down the trail, more the high rise apartments began to thin out:
The trail was also becoming even more thickly forested on each side:
It is a multi-day hike to complete the entire trail so after walking for two hours I then decided to turn back around and walk back towards the Peak Galleria where I started the walk from. From the Galleria I looked back toward the terrain the peak trail traverses around:
The trail comes out to over 50 kilometers which if you are fit could be covered in two days. If I had the time I would definitely hike the whole trail. However even from the short distance I covered, the views were great and the fact I was surrounded by such nature in the midst of one of the most densely populated places on Earth was quite an incredible feeling. If you have time definitely take a short walk on the peak trail or even better yet hike the entire thing. It is the best way to get an overhead view of this incredible city.
Next Posting: Central Hong Kong – Part 1
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