Part 1 – Hong Kong in 36 hours

I started writing this article because it bothers me that I’m in China and can’t explore the country and take André to new places because of this virus. For more than two years we have limited ourselves to nearby cities or within the province, the fear of going out and ending up having to quarantine is disturbing, apart from the costs. Little did I know that this week Russia was deciding to attack Ukraine and the world would become an even more disturbing place.

In memory of the good times, here’s a little bit of Hong Kong. 

I went to Hong Kong twice, once in 2013 and return in 2018. Hong Kong was the first city I visited (I’m not considering Tianjin because I used to live there), both times I went, I had little time and a very limited budget to explore the city, but I was not lacking in curiosity to know one of the most famous cities in the world.

2013

Before even boarding, I spent a lot of time searching online for places I could visit in the 36 hours I would have in the city. It was difficult to choose, even more so because one of the places I wanted to go to, the Tian Tan Buddha, none of the Chinese I asked knew about this tourist spot. They told me about the food and cosmetics or perfumes that I could buy cheaper. In Hong Kong, imports and electronics are 20% cheaper due to import taxes.

It wouldn’t be a direct flight, I would arrive in Shenzhen, I would have to take the subway to the border, cross the border on foot and take the train to the city center of Hong Kong. Sounds simple, but it’s a little nerve-racking when you understand very little of the language. I remember wasting at least 30 minutes at the subway station. I wasn’t sure if I was on the right line or how to buy the ticket, no one there could speak English. 

I spent one hour on the subway, a mixture of tiredness and tension started growing, after all, I would be leaving China and anyone who has passed customs knows that even when everything is right there is still a fear of being stopped. ( I won’t get into the geopolitical issue, but if you’re curious, learn more)

When getting off at the station, there was still a long way to go, and I just followed the crowd, hoping that we had the same destination, I remember there were a lot of people. The plan worked, apparently, everyone wanted to go to Hong Kong, I went to buy my train ticket, but I had crossed the border and therefore my money was not valid in Hong Kong. I had to change my money, at least enough to get to the center, I didn’t want to take the train with a lot of money, after all, I’m Brazilian.

Another hour on the train and I arrived downtown, I had made a reservation at a hostel and I didn’t know what to expect. Half an hour looking for the hostel and nothing. I was on the right street, the numbers were close, but I couldn’t find the number that was in the address. After walking up and down the street a few times I realized that I was looking for a building that had no signs of the hostel. I arrived around 23:00, it was late and I didn’t know if anyone would be awake to help me with the check-in. For those who intend to go to Hong Kong someday and do not plan to stay in any big hotel, prepare to stay in a hotel/hostel that normally occupies one or a few floors of a building, and in the others, you will find all kinds of shops (spa, dance schools, other hotels, etc) and even other hotels. 

I was staying in an apartment, an actual flat, where the female room I was in was supposed to have 4 people, but there were 5. After all the stress I couldn’t sleep. I even went out for a walk nearby. Unlike Brazil, I feel very safe here, and I never had any problems walking around cities at night, the same goes for Hong Kong. Of course, I double my attention in bigger cities, but it’s still much safer.

Hong Kong, art piece
Hisilicon K3

The next day I woke up very early and left for my destination. In Hong Kong everything is very expensive, so the subway was the best option. I wanted to visit the Buddha that no one had heard of in China, it is on top of a mountain and there were two ways to get there, by cable car or by bus. The cable car line was short as I had planned, but it only started at 10:00 am and it was still before 8:00 am. I saw the bus pulling over and I was not willing to wait another minute, I got on the bus, which was much cheaper than the cable car, and I was surprised to see the curious looks of the other passengers on the bus, I believed that people would be more accustomed to foreigners there.

Hong Kong, Mountain, sunny day
View from the bus

I don’t regret taking the bus, but I was really glad I didn’t have breakfast that day because there were a lot of curves and the driver was in a race against God knows who.

cable car cabin

The day was cloudy when I left the hostel, but it turned into a nice sunny day. The view from the top of the mountain alone was breathtaking, but seeing the structure they created for the Buddha was also very interesting, with Starbucks and cable car cabins from different countries, including Brazil.

Buddha

The curious thing about going to certain places is that it takes a long time to get there, when you’re there it’s beautiful, but 10 photos later there’s not much to do and it’s time to go back.

I came back by cable car, the view was beautiful, a pity that all the photos reflected the cabin glass, but in my memory, I can clearly remember nature, the day that was so pleasant, even more so for those who were in the cold of the North of China, and the feeling of finally getting some rest.

View from the cable car
View from the cable car

Coming back to the city early, I had the whole day to explore the city. There was one temple I wanted to visit but I ended up visiting seven and an orchid nursery :), they were free and fit my budget. The money I didn’t spend going to other places I used to have a very good lunch at a restaurant next to one of the temples.

In Hong Kong every night there is a light show, it’s very popular and I’ve never seen one. I didn’t know exactly where I should go to see it, but half an hour before the show I was already close to the waterfront. Suddenly the fireworks started, perhaps because it was towards the end of the year, and then the light show. It was nice to look at, but nothing too impressive. It was still early, but I was exhausted, it was time to go back to the hostel when I was almost there I remembered that I had forgotten to have dinner. 

The next day I got lost a bit to explore the city, sometimes I get lost on purpose, I visited the Sony store but I couldn’t buy what I wanted, the Playstation 4 was sold out, I bought my favorite perfume and a bag. Then train, customs, crossing the border on foot, subway, and hours of waiting for the plane that was delayed.

I didn’t know, but I would return to Hong Kong five years later to spend some days with my son, and traveling with a pre-teen made me reflect a lot on how I usually travel when I’m alone. 

Next week I’ll post part 2, Hong Kong in good company.

Published by Tassia Kespers

Escritora, professora, tradutora, revisora, mãe e exploradora nas horas vagas.

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