Its taken a while but finally got around to a travelogue for the Hong Kong trip in April 2003. Since we followed the Fodor's "City Pack for Hong Kong (3rd Edition, 2001)" four day itinerary (crammed into three).
Day 1 & 2 (Tuesday, April 9th to Thursday, April 11th) - Ottawa/Toronto to Hong Kong (via Anchorage)
Long (about 19 hours) uneventful flight via Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, with a 90 minute stop in Anchorage to refuel and change crew. I was very impressed with Cathay Pacific's service, even in economy the seating was comfortable, good food and personalized entertainment systems.
Day 3 (Thursday, April 11th) - Hong Kong
Arrived in Hong Kong early Thursday morning and picked up a Hong Kong MTR Tourist Pass (Airport Express Tourist Octopus) which provided the Airport Express highspeed train and 3 days unlimited subway & bus use. Took about 40 minutes to get to the Park Lane Hotel, a very nice hotel at Causeway Bay (Circular Street Overpass), across the street from Victoria Park (Soccer Field, which is famous for its morning Tai Chi classes) and around the corner from the Hong Kong Central Library (where we were able to do our e-mail stuff).
We started our sightseeing in the Causeway Bay area, so the first attempt the Tiger Balm Gardens (Ah Boon Haw Gardens) but unfortunately that was closed.
Had more success though at Pak Tai and Hung Sheng Temples. But that was after some endless wondering around Bowden Road, learned that just because road run side-by-side on the map they may not be that close as Hong Kong is on the side of a hill, so while Queens Road & Kennedy looked like they were intersected by Bowden, you actualy had to -
Then off to the Central Market - quickly knew we were not in Canada anymore when someone walk by with a hind quarter of a pig over their sholder and all kinds of interesting stuff for sale (live chickens, semi-live fish, clothing, jewelry in every price range).
We finished off the day at Victoria Peak. The highlight of any trip to Hong Kong, with a cable car ride up to the observation deck and a panormanic view of Hong Kong. The observation deck was large and relatively uncluttered. Inside though it was very touristy, but we did get a window seat at the Movenpick/Marche resturant with a great view of the city.
Day 4 (Friday, April 12th) - City Centre, Lantau Island & Temple Street Night Market
Started the day off with a quick tour around Victoria park, downtown (statue square, city hall) and the waterfront (Arts Centre, docks).
Then it was off to Lantau Island, we caught a boat to Silvermine Bay (~40 mimutes). While on the boat we quickly realized that once we got to Lantau Island we had no idea how to get to Po Lin or Tai O but we ran into a couple from Vancouver who had the bus schedule, which really helped. When we arived at Silvermine Bay there was a McDonald's conviently at the pier, but aside from a few merchants along the street it wasn't that busy.
Caught the bus to the Po Lin Monastery where there are a number of small monasteries but the main sight is a huge Buddha (34m high). Listed at 268 steps to the top but we counted 284 and very nice but not very historic (completed in 1993) and lots of tourists (13,000 visitors a day).
Another bus to Tai O, a fishing village where most of the buildings are on stilts over the water. But the fish sure was fresh & good. The village was very poor and there were rumors it would be relocated to make room for a Disney park.
After some shrewed negotations for souvenirs, we went to catch the bus back to the boat. Unfortunately we missed it by 5 minutes and the next one wasn't for 2 hours. But rather than waiting we saw that the next bus went to Tung Chung Town Centre which was at the end of the subway system. Interesting bus ride, the bus was full and we were the only tourists. Bus went very slow as well since the hills were very steep.
Took about an hour to get to the Tung Chung Town Centre and it was as if we were in the suburbs of North American city so spend a couple of hours just going through the mall.
In the evening it was off to the Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon - what an 'interesting' place, lining the street there are food kiosks, the most current electronics, clothing (even tailors to do custom suits), cheap Rolex's and I even saw a pair of hockey skates for sale.
On the way back to the hotel was Great George Street, around corner from the from the subway station & very busy in the evenings but nearly empty during the day.
Day 5 (Saturday, April 13th) - Stanley Market & Aberdeen
A day for exploring the outer areas of Hong Kong -
Day 6 (Sunday, April 14th) - Kowloon & Back to Toronto/Ottawa
Since we used the Airport Express we could checkin for our flight home at the downtown air terminal, so dropped off our luggage and got our boarding passes.
Then it was off to explore Kowloon, across the harbour from the main city - Harbour Front (One ... Two ... Three), Performing Arts Centre and a Cruise Ship.
After lunch at TGIF (for traditional Hong Kong cuisine ?) it was off to the airport and a 20 hour flight back to Canada. Got a bit of a scare at the airport when Cathay Pacific indicated the flight was oversold, because we were on a special fare we would be the first to get bumped but we managed to get on. Back to work on Monday.
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