Exploring Hongkong

Here, I’ll talk about some of the favorite sights I saw in Hongkong. Hongkong is a fascinating place in general. I’m not gonna go into aspects like its recent history and political struggles regarding the ‘one country, two systems’ mantra, and so on. It’s really fascinating stuff though, so read up on it a bit if you have the time. Most people probably know Hongkong as one of the world’s biggest financial centers and for its corresponding omnipresent skyscrapers. But it is also an important cultural hub, mixing Eastern and Western influences and producing very popular cultural artefacts like the well-known Hongkong cinema. It is a massive and truly global city.

Anyway, I’m neither qualified nor inclined to give a history lesson, so let’s get into tourist-y stuff:

 

10.000 Buddha Monastery

This is a famous Buddhist temple that – as the title indicates – is home to over 10.000 Buddha statues. It’s a large complex spanning multiple buildings thar are located on a hill. So be prepared to walk up quite a lot of stairs, which can be taxing in the Hongkong heat. This challenge is sweetened by the fact that the stairs are lined with countless beautiful Buddha statues, so there are always plenty of excuses to take frequent breaks on the stairs to catch a breath and admire the statues.

Once you reach the main temple sites, there is plenty more to admire:

During my travels in Asia, I have seen countless Buddhist temples, and you might think that they get old after some time, especially if one has no religious attachment to them. I still really enjoy their architecture and peaceful atmosphere every time, but this temple in particular really stands out due to the countless statues, making it a very worthwhile visit even if you have already seen a lot of temples.

 

Skyline

There are already some photos of the famous skyline from Tsim Sha Tsui in the first post. Of course, the skyline is also very impressive from Hongkong Island, either standing between the biggest skyscrapers or looking back at the other side of Hongkong.

In addition to that, you can get a fantastic view from the massive Sky100 tower.

Mind you, all of these buildings are also gigantic, but they are dwarfed by the Sky100, which hosts Hongkong’s highest observation deck at almost 400 meters above sea level.

 

Shek’O + Dragon’s Back

However, Hongkong is not just all about skyscrapers and also offers a lot of nature. My plan was to hike on the famous Dragon’s Back hike and then hang out at nearby Shek’O beach for a bit. In classic Konas fashion, I got lost and couldn’t find the path to get to the Dragon’s Back. So I was stuck on a camping spot that led nowhere when heavy rain set in. You might think that the rain might be refreshing and cool things down a bit. You would be incorrect. At least I got to see a rainbow, which made up for the previous bungle.

I decided that I wouldn’t find the entrance and that it was way too hot for a hike anyway, so I just went to the beach and hung out there for a bit. It is a really nice beach, but I got a pretty bad sunburn.

 

Wong Tai Sin Temple

I’ve seen quite a few temples in my travels, but only one that comes with its own mall.

Wong Tai Sin is a huge and absolutely stunning temple. I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.

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Ngong Ping

Ngong Ping is a remote area on a hill on Lantau Island. Lantau Island also hosts Hongkong’s airport and Disney Land. Ngong Ping is a popular attraction and includes many notable sights. Since it is high up in the mountains, the most convenient (and stunning) way to reach it is via cable car, also known as Ngong Ping 360.

For a small additional fee, you can travel in a ‘crystal cabin’ with a glass bottom that allows you to look below. Not for the faint of heart.

The cable ride itself is already a great experience and gives you fantastic views of the surrounding area and the nearby airport.

Once you reach the end of the trip, you enter a little traditional village including lots of restaurants, shops, and a few more attractions like theatre and tea house.

The two main attractions are the giant Tian Tan Buddha that you can see from a large distance, and Po Lin Monastery.

If these fantastic sights are not enough for you, there are also plenty of hiking trails that are a bit less crowded than the big attractions and which also offer plenty to see, such as the Wisdom Path.

But don’t overexert yourself, bring plenty of water, and beware of the crazy heat. I almost collapsed around the place the last picture was taken. In hindsight, it’s pretty remarkable that I didn’t give myself a heat stroke. Hongkong takes a lot out of you, bro.

 

The Peak

Speaking of smart decisions, I also thought it would be a excellent idea to hike around The (Victoria) Peak around noon. Smart.

Victoria Peak is Hongkong’s highest mountain and thus offers an incredible view. There is a tram that can get you to the Peak from near the lovely Hongkong Park. The tram is quite iconic, so of course I missed it and instead took a long and winding bus up the mountains, which was quite an experience in itself.

There is a lot of stuff you can do up there. There are various cafés and restaurants, a wax museum, and much more. They basically built an entire (mini) mall on top, so you probably won’t run out of stuff to do. There is even an entire shop dedicated to nothing but various merchandise that combines Hongkong landmarks with the face of Che Guevara, for what I can only assume are very plausible and sensible reasons.

There are also various observational decks, some of which charge additional fees. The view from the free platforms is breathtaking as well though.

I decided to hike around some more before taking a much needed rest from the midday sun under a porch.

Since there was no way I could go out into the blazing heat right away, I had to pass a bit of time and did so by reading about the Brexit referendum fallout. Somehow, these news did not exactly help me recover from my exhaustion. However, it drove home the absurd situation I had found myself in quite succinctly. Who could have imagined that I would ever go on an adventure like this, only to spend it reading about Europe falling apart?

There is plenty of more stuff to do in Hongkong, from visiting multiple Bruce Lee statues and paying homage to Hongkong cinema, to driving around in the adorable tiny Ding Ding trams, and so much more I won’t be able to go into here. Needless to say, I had an absolutely exhausting but fantastic time!

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