So is it Eastern or Western? Well actually, it is both and it is neither. It is certainly unique! It is Hong Kong!
To be honest, originally my choice to visit Hong Kong had more to do with convenience than actual interest. I’m a firm believer in utilising stopovers and I do them as often as I can. I mean, why visit one place when you can visit two, right? Not to mention that, depending on your route, you get a little break on those horrible long flights!
So when my girlfriends and I found a good price to Bali with Cathay Pacific we didn’t even think twice in doing a stopover in Hong Kong on our return flight.
Our time in Bali was quite an adventurous one. We travelled all over the country by cars, boats, horse-drawn carriage, you name it! We stayed in very basic accommodation, some of which didn’t even have fresh water to shower. Yes it was a little rough and yes every day was a bad hair day, so we all agreed that Hong Kong had to be done in style (we are girls after all!).
Arriving at the beautiful and modern Hong Kong airport (voted Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century) we made our way to the designated desk where our arranged Limo transfer was waiting for us with refreshments. Needless to say, it transported us comfortably to the beautiful 5 star Langham Place hotel in Mongkok, which was to be our home for the next 48 hours.
The hotel was absolutely beautiful. Excellent location, with walking distance from the Markets and connected to the Mongkok MTR and the Langham Place Shopping Mall. There are no words to describe how amazing it is to just get the lift down from your room, quickly cross the reception area and arrive at the mall (which is particularly handy when you are dying to shop but your feet are killing you from walking all over town!).
The Langham Place really is a superb hotel. Full of quirky little things, it is beautiful, young and fun with attentive and caring staff (that even took the time to convince us that leaving the hotel at 11pm to find a traditional Cantonese karaoke bar was not such a good idea as we thought it would be…). The amazing rooftop pool & Jacuzzi is just perfect for relaxing after a full day of shopping and exploring while you gather your energy for the night ahead.
We just loved the Langham Place and the Backyard bar SO much that we lost track of time (and cocktails…), subsequently ending up never going out that evening but having, to this day, one of our best and most memorable nights ever.
The Langham breakfast was just amazing, with a huge variety of fruits, traditional full English, continental and Asian breakfast options. No doubt, it is by far the best breakfast I have ever tasted.
With time working against us, we set out for our little adventure straight after breakfast (a true challenge after eating so much)!
We set off on a walking/train tour of the parks and temples, with my favourites being the Wong Tai Sin Temples. The temple area is home to three religions: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and claims to make every wish come true (well, except for mine apparently).
Next stop was the Buddhist temple Chi Lin Nunnery, a complex of beautiful wooden architecture, and finally the tranquil meticulously landscaped Nan Lian Garden.
The Hong Kong transport system is great, rest assured there is no need to be concerned when using it. It’s easy, cheap and clean. The trains and platforms are fully air-conditioned and provide bilingual signs and announcements in English as well as Chinese. Plus, travelling with the locals make for a great cultural experience!
Our second day was also our last day in Hong Kong so we checked out straight after breakfast and took a taxi to the airport to store our bags. From there we visited the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, which in my opinion is an absolute must (and it must be done by cable car on the crystal cabin, where you and your friends will absolutely NOT lay on the glass bottom and take pictures pretending that you are flying..).
The ride is 25 minutes each way with stunning views of the city and the round trip will cost you approximately $213. From there we continued to the Peak, which is the highest point on Hong Kong Island. It has the most amazing views of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers and Victoria Harbour and you get there easily by the super cool Peak Tram, with return tickets costing you approximately $40. We stuck around the Peak until 8pm so we could watch the very impressing Symphony of Lights, which is also HIGHLY recommended!
In summary, Hong Kong was a fantastic surprise. It was great for shopping, the food was amazing and I just loved their culture. Even though we had a very short period of time, I felt very lucky to experience such an amazing city which gave me a little taste of China (a place that I always wanted to visit). And speaking of China, please make sure that you always have a card from the hotel with the address in Chinese on it as not all cab drivers speak English!
And finally, for the love of all that is good and holy, never ever tell a Chinese cab driver that you are late to catch a flight.
Alessandra at Letsgo2
For more information about Hong Kong and the packages that Letsgo2 offer, visit: https://www.letsgo2.com/holidays/far-east/china/hong-kong/default.aspx