Hong Kong held up to my initial expectations. The minute I landed in the airport, I was super thrilled and excited to experience the unique flavor that the city has to offer; I was not disappointed. The pace here is much faster than previous cities I have had the chance to reside in, especially San Francisco. Convenience and efficiency is top priority here, this is achieved by the Octopus card, with this one card, one can quickly pay for anything that accepts it such as vending machines, convenience stores, etc. As a result, life here, albeit fast paced, is extremely smooth and systematic. Everywhere you go there are towering apartment complexes up to 30+ stories. The people here are friendly, but probably due to the cultural atmosphere, they are pressed to express themselves as “loud and clear” often belting their phrases across a distance. This phenomena predominately emulates from the older residents here, which I am totally fine with, growing up in San Francisco has prepared me for this. The combination of the people, the landscape, and it’s rustic vibe, Hong Kong is definitely a place I would come back to visit often.
Things To Do
Places stay open to very late here. You are also never away from any destination via MTR, the Hong Kong equivalent of the MRT in Taiwan, Singapore, etc. With this combination, one can hit up multiple locations and attractions within minutes. Restaurants, cafes, dessert places, and whatever you can possibly think of are plentiful here, and you can imagine how delicious they all are. In addition, for the gamers, there are cyber cafes and arcades to satisfy your gaming munchies.
As for tourist attractions, one can head towards the two islands by taking the ferry. On the Lautau island, you can see the Big Buddha and the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas, as well as see pink and white dolphins at Tai O. The Lautau island is very beautiful, peaceful, and free. It’s vast and expansive forest surroundings with the sea coast borders allows your permission to get lost in it’s preserved ancient appeal. Cheung Chau is equally visually captivating, and it resonates a tranquil vibe that will surely calm your spirits as you get lost in it’s blue seaport. The local food here is also, as you expect, great! It’s distinct from similar foods in Hong Kong since the local restaurants preserves it’s traditional methods of cooking.
Places visited: Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong Art Museum, Avenue of the Stars, Big Buddha, Lautau Island, Tai O, Sky Terrace (The Peak), Zoological and Botanical Park, Cheung Chau, and other locations unknown.
Best Part: Family
What made Hong Kong more enjoyable and spectacular was the fact that I was able to stay with my relatives here for the whole duration. Moreover, I had the privilege to participate in Chinese New Years with my extended family in Hong Kong and Macau. The pleasures of this is extremely sweet and satisfying. Another memorable experience was the fact that I had to utilize four langauges (Burmese, Cantonese, English, and Mandarin) to communicate with my relatives. As frustrating and challenging as it was, in the end, I really enjoyed it all.
*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship
2.11.2015 – 2.23.2015