Hong Kong, a calm giant, surrounded by green paradise
When you visit a big city, you always expect noise, too many people running around, cars everywhere, pollution, plastic, chaos and insanity, but Hong Kong showed me the otehr side of the coin. This marvel of a city has everything you would want, from amazing architecture, to peaceful environment and a huge amount of green, more than you could expect.
As I had to leave Vietnam to renew my Visa, I was thinking of a place surrounded by nature, to relax and get some rest from all the dust and noise, but as flights to Hong Kong were as cheap as 20$ because of protests, I decided to take a turn, and it came out to be the best idea I ever had.
Arriving at the airport and taking the shuttle to the heart of the city, at 7pm, I noticed all the lights everywhere, going high up to the sky. I've never seen that many buildings in one place in my entire life, and still, it was as beautiful as overwhelming. Finding my hotel in that maze of streets and big grey blocks surrounded by neon lights and serious people was a challenge. Time never stops here, the traffic lights change to green and people walk, cars run, until they go back to red again, and everyone looks forward, waiting to continue. Noone looks at anyone, I saw all those faces focused on their phones, sometimes even on the ground or just foreward. Not much noise, just steps and engines, and the ticking of those traffic lights every time they indicate that there is a little break. Was this the normal, calm but awkward atmosphere in Hong Kong? Or have the protests left a strong mark on everyday life?
There are many things that I found interesting about this place. The first was their amazing public transport system. It works, it is punctual, it is clean and it is mostly fast. They use this octopus card, with serves as a payment method for not only transport, but also many small shops, supermarkets or even smaller restaurants. It also gives a discount on everything, so it's worth buying at the airport or after. After the amazing light game and the relatively calm streets, I was also surprised by the amount of parks, green zones and forest that are in and around Hong Kong, which allows citizens to get some rest from the overcrowded metropole. What also surprised me, was that most of these green zones were free, even the zoo-park.
Another very interesting thing was the market. Vietnamese markets were new and interesting fro me, but there is a huge difference between those and the ones in Hong Kong. Not only the food changes, but also the colores, the mood, the smells and variety of things you can get. I took my time to visit four different markets, two were food markets, one was like a huge outlet to get any kind of clothes and souvenirs, and the last one was more for the working people, where everything was a little bit cheaper. And here I also found a great amount of street food, that I enjoyed very much. From dumplings to grilled corn, there was so much to offer. The food in restaurants though, wasn't the most impressing. Maybe I didn't have that much luck.
The day before I left, I decided to go out of the city and hike to one of the beaches. I really didn't expect much, but what I got to see blew my mind absolutely. The beauty of Hong Kongs surroundings was beyond my expectationes. My hike started at Pak Tam Chung, where it took me around 2-3 hours through the forest and along the river to get to Sai Wan beach. There were many waterfalls on the way, and the last 30 minutes gave me a more than pleasant walk throught the river itself, ending in where it meets the sea. The first couple of steps felt like entering paradise. Many tones of blue and yellow welcomed me with an almost empty beach, warm weather and relaxing wavesounds. This place is so worth to visit, I was really happy I did. There was also a small restaurant, not that good, but still enough to give me some energy for the rest of the day. A couple of hours of rest at this beach might have been the peak of my trip.
Many people asked me through social media about how protests affected my trip as a foreigner. Well, I was very careful at nights to not run into any conflict, but the days I was there, public transport wasn't affected and I felt safe at any time. I met some protesters, which were mainly students, one night I was out late, but their fight is against the government, not the people. I won't give my opinion on the matter. What I did see was streets full of political graffitis, lots of damage to metro stations and street cameras, and a huge amount of unhappy people. Maybe it wasn't Hong Kongs best moment, but I sure did see the beauty that this place has to offer, and was very happy after this experience.
Some of the costs of my trip broken down for you, if you ever want to visit:
Most bus, ferry and metro rides with the Octopus Card: 4-20 HKD (0,40-2,50$)
Bowl of soup, noodles, meat and vegetables: 80-100 HKD (10-12$)
Street food snacks: 10-30 HKD (1,30-3,80$)
Hostel x night: 100 HKD (13$) (I highly recommend my Hostel: Ranibow Lodge)
Parks, zoo, hiking, beach, promenade: free
I really hope you enjoyed this blog. You can always check out my posts on these trips on my Instagram @robert_mikoleit for stories or @robwandering for photos.
I also made this short video of the trip, so you can get inspired and motivated to visit too: