Somehow it's already been a year since Josh and I went to Hong Kong in September of 2015.
A friend of mine messaged me late one summer night in 2015 telling me there was a Peach Airlines sale for Hong Kong. Almost everyone I knew had already gone by that point and I was holding out because Hong Kong tickets are always the most expensive on Peach and never go on sale. While Peach's website usually crashes when their midnight sales start, somehow I managed to get two tickets to go during Silver Week.
Our flight to Hong Kong was uneventful and I was ready to go go go as soon as we landed. We changed over some money at the airport and bought a sim card at the airport 7/11 and got our metro Octopus card all within a few minutes. We'd only been in the city a few moments and we could already tell Hong Kong was always going to be a few steps ahead of us.
Hong Kong immediately captured my heart. I had felt a bit nervous coming because I had heard so many people tell me how rude and rough Hong Kong was, especially compared to Japan, but I was quickly put at ease. And a sighting of a place serving roast goose made me very content to spend a few days in a slightly chaotic city.
We had a few hours to kill till we met someone from Couchsurfing who was going to show us around that night, so we trekked out to our hotel, the Y-loft, near Chai Wan station. Y-loft had been one of the only affordable hotels in Hong Kong I could find that wasn't the size of a matchbox and we decided to sacrifice location for price and comfort. For us it worked out really well, but I wouldn't recommend this place if you're planning on some late nights.
We met our Couchsurfer at Prince Edward station and had the best night of the entire trip. We had recently been hosting people at our place through couchsurfing and enjoyed it so much we thought we'd like to meet up with locals from Hong Kong to show us around and it was the best decision we made for our vacation. I cannot stress how much better our time was because we decided to meet up with locals. That night we got our first taste of dimsum and we went to almost all the markets between Prince Edward and Jordan Station.
We started off at the Hong Kong Flower Market which looked like a technicolor dreamland in that golden hour sun we were getting. There were rows and rows of shops spilling their colorful wares out on to the street and people milling about looking at the fragrant blossoms.
The Hong Kong Bird Garden left us feeling conflicted. Set in a beautiful park there are shops selling parrots and the most beautiful, fragile song birds kept in delicate wooden bird cages. I loved hearing the chirps and trilling sounding out across the park, but the birds flitting around in tiny cages was heart breaking. Gorgeous parrots were chained to their cages and tiny jewel-like birds were crammed together in small metal cages. I wanted to buy them all to set them free.
In between our weaving in and out of the main streets and the small little markets, we ended up at the Gold Fish Market. There were also a ton of pet stores around this area with the cutest little puppies and kitties. I'm still waiting for Josh to just give in already when we go by one of those stores.
Hong Kong's neon maze was spellbinding. So much of the architecture on Kowloon looked like it hadn't been touched since the 60's and since I had just finished a Wan Kar Wai binge before I came, I felt like I was in sensory overload.
We ended up walking around the red light district with our guide for the night. That was enlightening to say the least. The condensation from all the air conditioning units in the buildings was dripping on us and the street, the people became scarcer and seedier looking. Woman were lined up outside of dark buildings in skin tight dresses and dangerous looking heels literally waiting their turn. There were signs in English advertising how much a girl would be based on her ethnicity. Russians were the most expensive. I think Thai girls were the cheapest. I've walked around some of Japan's red light districts, but they were tame compared to this and they felt...cleaner? This was just sad and seemed more like a movie and less like real life.
One of my favorite parts of the night was when we ended up at the Australia Dairy Company. We were so glad we were with a Cantonese speaker while we were there. We had to wait a while to get in and the guys working there mean business. They bark at you to order and to get out of if you take too long. I read a lot of negative reviews about the place because of the service, but I kind of liked it. It was part of the charm. They were out of almost everything so I got their almond tea and egg sandwich. That was one of the best egg sandwiches of my life. I have no idea how they got it so perfect and fluffy. They did have an English menu which was a relief. I felt bad asking our new friend to translate everything for us.
We had walked so much that first night we had blisters on our feet (the first of many) and as we limped back to our hotel, we were filled with excitement for the coming days.
There are a variety of different ways to get into the city from the Airport, but I did a lot of research and the Airport Express really is the fastest and the most comfortable. It is more expensive, about $100 HKD (around $13USD), but we were at Hong Kong station in 30 minutes after a really enjoyable train ride that was mostly empty. On the other hand, I really don't recommend going with the 7/11 sims. We got really awful service and couldn't use it underground at all. We were going to buy the CSL Discover Hong Kong sim that's so popular, but when we got in in the early afternoon the 5 day pass was already sold out and I was feeling too cheap to buy the 8 day pass. While it all worked out fine in the end, I would have bought the more expensive sim from them if I had known how bad the 7/11 sim would be. On that note, I would definitely recommend getting a sim while you're there. The streets are very confusing and the translation app was more than helpful to have. I'm never traveling around without a sim phone again. They're never much money and I think they're good to have for peace of mind.
Have you ever been to Hong Kong? Tell me what you loved about it!