Sunday, March 22, 2015

Exploring Hong Kong: Part 1

After enjoying a very restful night's sleep during my first night in Hong Kong, I took my time in the morning before making my way to see the famous Tian Tan Buddha.

This Buddha is located on the outskirts of the city, which meant that I had to take the subway to get to another station to take a cable car to the island that the Buddha is located on.  I was really impressed with how simple it was to use Hong Kong's subway.  Not only was it easy to navigate, but it was also fast and clean--all around a good way to travel around the city.

Once I got to the station for the cable car, I was shocked to see how long the line was.  I stood in line for nearly two hours just to buy my ticket.  Luckily, there was WiFi, so I was able to talk to friends while I waited, which definitely made it go by much quicker.

Once I finally got to buy my ticket, I was able to get on a cable car for the approximately 20 minute ride to the island.  Although cable cars are always slightly scary to me (I seriously don't understand how they work), the view was absolutely beautiful.  The water around Hong Kong is a beautiful light blue color, and there are lots of mountains all around.

To get to the Buddha you first have to climb up tons of stairs.  At the top you can walk around the Buddha, which made of bronze and is quite large.  Honestly, I wasn't all that impressed by the Buddha itself because after a year and a half in Asia I've seen more than my share of Buddhas. Yes, this one was especially big, but I wasn't really blown away. However, what was really nice about this trip was the view of the mountains and water.  It was an absolutely beautiful day too--not too hot, but not cool either and a perfect blue sky.

There was also a beautiful temple that was located on the island, which in my opinion was more impressive than the Buddha.  One of the halls had 10,000 Buddhas, and the lighting inside was stunning.  Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Once I finished walking around, I got back on the cable car and made my way back down.  This time I had the pleasure of sharing a cable car with a teenage couple, who literally took selfies the ENTIRE way down the mountain.  Lucky me.

Once I got back to the city, I took a little break then figured out where to go to get a glimpse of Hong Kong's famous skyline, which turned out to be by the harbor at the TST Promenade and Avenue of Stars.

Hong Kong's skyline is consistently ranked among the best (and sometimes THE best) in the world.  As I walked towards the harbor and it came into view, it was easy to see why.  The lights seemed to go on and on, and they reflected beautifully into the water.  This skyline is just one of those things that is difficult to capture in pictures. Of course, I did take pictures, but take my word that it's far more impressive in person.

Even though I got to the harbor a little before the light show began at 8:00, there were already tons of people.  Naturally I ended up next to a group of Koreans, who had no idea I could understand bits and pieces of what they were saying (and some of it definitely wasn't nice).  I just couldn't seem to escape the Koreans throughout this trip--funny how that happens.

After the light show finished, I walked around for quite a while trying to find a place to eat.  Traveling solo in Hong Kong was really different from traveling in Laos in Cambodia, where places really cater to tourists.  When you're in Hong Kong there are definitely tourists around, but the city isn't necessarily catering to them--you're surrounded by way more locals than fellow tourists, which isn't really the case in the major tourist places in Cambodia and Laos.  The streets were so crowded and hectic, and without knowing where I was going or what any of the food was exactly, it was hard to make a decision about where to eat.  I finally found a place though, and after that it was definitely time to call it a night--I had had enough city for one day!

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