Hong Kong - 2nd August 2008 @ 5:16 am «   »

Location: Hong Kong : Hong Kong

Having been reminded of our tight budget recently, we aimed for the ‘cheaper’ part of Hong Kong and started looking for a place to stay in Kowloon as soon as we arrived around 14:00 on Wednesday afternoon. We soon realised that our money definitely would not go very far in this place.

Pushing our way through countless touts offering rooms, fake watches and tailor-made suits we systematically checked out five different ‘youth hostels’ in one apartment block, but they were not quite what you’d expect from a youth hostel with seriously small rooms, hordes of people everywhere and cockroaches scurrying around. We had passed by another hostel further down the road a bit earlier, because at that stage it looked a bit dodgy, but now all of a sudden seemed like a real possibility. We checked into a small, yet clean-ish room for way more than what we were used to paying in China.

The first afternoon and most of the next day we spent prospecting the shopping streets of Kowloon. With our budget concerns temporarily gone by the way-side (again!) we were looking for a mini laptop computer for the trip and methodically collected data on specifications and prices for some of the latest models around. We would frequent internet cafes to check up on reviews of some of the ones we had shortlisted and by the 2nd evening we had made our shiny new purchase.

On Thursday we made our way onto the main Hong Kong island with the primary aim of getting a new Vietnam visa. Because of our extended stay in China (the first two months of our double-entry visa for China was up, which is why we had to get out of China and into Hong Kong) we forfeited our Vietnam visa which Marizanne spent days working on back in London. We headed to the Vietnam consulate and withing 50 minutes walked out with brand new visas.

On Friday we went up the well-known tram which leads up to the top of the hill overlooking Hong Kong island and Kowloon. The day had been hit-and-miss weather wise, but we were lucky to get a bit of sunshine when we got up there and enjoyed a drink at a coffee shop with wonderful views of the city.

We walked around many parts of town and had drinks in Soho after taking a very short ride on ‘the world’s longest covered escalator’. Seems that whenever something new is built in this part of the world, it needs to break some kind of record.

Fishing around many electronics and camera shops we worked our way down to the waterfront and took the refreshingly cheap ferry back to Kowloon. We enjoyed the sound & light show on the waterfront, where they light up dozens of high-rise buildings with lazers and spotlights, and we had many great meals around town.

Saturday was a lazy day that we spent familiarising ourselves with the luxury of having 24-7 mobile computing at our fingertips. On our last night in the tax-free zone we took one last dive into the indulgence pool and bought Marizanne her own digital SLR, something that was long overdue.

Hong Kong is a great mix of cultures (sometimes a scary mix) with seriously rich and desperately poor living side-by-side. One can walk past designer shops, turn a corner and be in the middle of dodgeville. We enjoyed our short trip here very much, but are looking forward to return to the real China.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

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