As I write this Hong Kong is experiencing a bit of turmoil. The photos of protestors I see are quite striking and a reminder that when one’s freedom is taken away, trouble is not far behind. But for me, this is Hong Kong. The city is filled with spirited people who are not afraid to stand up and be heard. While Communist China will ultimately win, perhaps positive changes can be made tho’ I’m cynical to believe freedom will win.
That said, Hong Kong is a vibrant and vigorous city that rivals New York City with it tall and massive skyscrapers. It is easy to feel dwarfed walking along the streets. You might even feel as if you’re in a deep hole as natural light seems so far in the distance. If you reach your hand toward the sky, perhaps you’ll touch the light tho’ you never seem to touch the light.
I’ve spent a relatively short amount of time in Hong Kong as the city is always a stopover as I travel to/from Bali. Sometime I’d like to spend an extended period of time in Hong Kong to touch the soul of the city. I want to know all of its curves, quirks, tastes and sounds. Up to now I’ve experienced the top tourist things to do and this isn’t quite so satisfying for me. It’s almost as if I’ve only seen the superficial while I know there is a heart and soul to the city.
As you can view in the video presentation in this blog post, I can only recommend the Star Ferry Harbour Tour, the Tram and Tramoramic Golden Ticket Tour and Temple Street Night Market. Let’s not forget the cable car ride to Big Buddha on Lantau Island, which is officially named NGONG Ping 360.
The tram ride through the heart of Hong Kong will allow you to conveniently explore various parts of the city with a hop on – hop off feature. You will be treated to running commentary throughout the ride so you know where you are and what you are seeing. I highly recommend the purchase of the golden ticket as there really is no easier way to navigate a city you don’t know.
The same is true for the Star Ferry Harbour Tour except you will be on the water instead of the streets of Hong Kong. The ferry leaves at designated times and takes you along the edges of Hong Kong. The views are splendid as you’ll see the city’s impressive skyline and understand just how compact Hong Kong really is. The ferry ride lasts about an hour. I went just near sunset so it was a real treat to see the golden sky reflect on the choppy harbour water.
Hong Kong has many markets tho’ the Temple Street Night Market probably gets the most attention. There are plenty of local eateries to enjoy. If you like fresh seafood, be sure to arrive at the market a wee bit hungry. I found a cool local artist and bought small embroidered artwork as my souvenir. Expect to find numerous stalls selling typical tourist wares. If this is your thing, you’ll love every minute of your visit. I especially loved the photo opportunities that are in abundance at the night market.
A journey to Big Buddha on Lantau Island is worth the effort solely for the long cable car ride that takes visitors through lush green mountains. The views during the ride are phenomenal. Don’t be surprised to find your head in the clouds as they rapidly move through the area. Oh. And Big Buddha? The statue of the Sitting Buddha is indeed big. Your guide will tell you the statue is the largest in the world, though the one in Bhutan is definitely larger.
Otherwise, I had always wanted to try acupuncture. I thought – ok, I’m in China. What better place is there to try acupuncture. My hotel made the arrangements for me so all I had to do is show up at the office, which I did. I met grace, the doctor, who pinched my hand and immediately told me what ailed me. After that came the needles and one of the most relaxing self-indulgent treatments I’ve had in quite some time. What’s more is I slept better that night than anytime before in my adult life. I’ll be sure to stop back again during my next visit.
If you’re into photography, be sure to read my tips below for capturing the best possible photos of Hong Kong.
Neighborhood: Victoria Peak, Hong Kong
One of the most famous spots in Hong Kong to capture the beautiful Skyline is Victoria Peak. Victoria Peak is a mountain in the western half of Hong Kong Island. Weather will always be on one of the variables you face. Thick fog can cover nearly the entire city, creating challenges for Hong Kong photographer. Try to pick a perfect time right before a storms move in. The Peak can close down due to heavy rainfall so be aware of this. Be patient and any weather conditions will reward you as you capture one of the most exciting city skylines in the world.
Hiking throughout the vast nature Hong Kong has to offer can be well worth your while as you search for photo opportunities. The Shek-O hike can be memorable. Shek-O has quite a few trails, some harder than others. Shek-O is quite easy to get to, multiple buses run throughout the day that take you straight to the trail.
Kowloon encompasses the northern part of Hong Kong, on the mainland across Victoria Harbour. Compared to Central, Kowloon offers more of the raw part of Hong Kong, where all the locals reside.
Photographing Hong Kong at night time is one of my favourite experiences. Throughout Central, there are numerous overpass bridges for pedestrians to travel to one side of the road to the other. The roads are always super busy, which makes for a great long exposure to capture the light trails.
Neighborhood: Fortress Hill
Hong Kong is filled with Food Markets offering fresh meat, produce and anything you can think of. Throughout the Neighborhood of Fortress Hill (Located in West Hong Kong Island) markets are tucked away in streets. With it being tucked away between larger buildings, you can find great light here at any time of the day. Through the markets people are constantly pushing around product on carts, creating for some cool photo opportunities.
Neighborhood: Lantau Island
Another must see in Hong Kong is a trip out to Lantau Island. It is home to NGONG Ping 360, which is a cable car rides (with the option of glass floor) that takes you up and around the mountains. The long cable car ride might possibly be one of the best experiences you could have in Hong Kong. The scenery that you glide over is absolutely stunning and more impressive than Big Buddha itself.
HONG KONG PHOTO TRAVEL TIPS
1. Wear your most comfortable runners as you will be walking A LOT.
2. Purchase and use an Octopus card. Click here for more info on Octopus cards.
3. Dress lightly as Hong Kong is very humid.
4. Be prepared for rain at any time.
5. Most people under 35 speak English. I met a man on a trolley who struck up a conversation about being a photographer for many years. You never know who you’ll meet so be open to almost anything.