My first ever solo trip was to one of the most densely populated areas in the world, Hong Kong. I went there for a short three day trip.. just enough time to explore around Hong Kong Island and experience a little bit of the Cantonese culture.
I was not worried in the least bit to travel around the city on my own.. I figured that if HK was anything like Chengdu, the city was probably very easy to get around on public transport. Also, if I can get around Chengdu where basically no one speaks English, I could get around one of the most international cities in the world.
So when my plane arrived in the city, off I went on the train to get to my hostel. I was recommended to stay at the Hong Kong Hostel (such a creative name, I know) which actually ended up rocking! It was in a perfect location, right by the subway and still within the hustle and bustle of the city. Not to mention they had free coffee in the mornings.. WHAT!
The first night I was there I was determined to get a style of food that Hong Kong, because of its Cantonese population, is known for.. Dim Sum! Dim Sum is basically small bit sized food that comes in what appears to be bamboo steamer baskets.
I took the recommendation of someone at the hostel to go to this Dim Sum restaurant that he swore was amazing. A side note real quick: Restaurants, or anything for that matter, are hard to find in Hong Kong. Rather than the city being built horizontally, it functions vertically. That means that there could be a 10 story building with restaurants on each floor.. and unless you know someone that can tell you the location, you ain’t finding a restaurant on your own!
Back track back to this have-to-try Dim Sum restaurant i was recommended.. after spending about 45 minutes wandering about several buildings, I found the restaurant! The excitement soon faded when I took a look at the prices and they were not at all backpacker friendly, but I was starving and decided to bite the bullet. The food was ok and I basically sat by myself in a nicer restaurant that does not in any way promote conversation with other customers. Awkward, bland, and pricey.. Ideal, right?
I walked off the Dim Sum by giving myself a night-time walking tour of the area around my hostel. Don’t worry, Hong Kong is a very safe city and I am also not a dumbass; I was not walking down alleys by myself or stopping to talk to strange men. Anyways.. I got to see the remnants of an already ended festival in Victoria park and stopped to get a delicious kumquat fruit tea.
The next day, I was determined not to let my not so great Dim Sum experience get me down.. I set out to explore Hong Kong which was actually a much greener city than I thought. I went to Hong Kong park and explored all of the beautiful gardens, walked through the bird enclosure, and even met a fellow foreigner from Germany! As per backpacker code, we buddied up and walked to the tram that takes you up the mountain to the scenic Peak Tower to marvel at the beautiful city below.
The day we went was quite cloudy; we weren’t able to see very far past Victoria Harbor. None the less, the view was beautiful and I was able to see even more of the luscious green landscape that Hong Kong has to offer. There was even a cafe with outdoor seating that we took advantage of.
Later that night I went out with several guys and a girl I met at my hostel. We went down to this street that was lined with foreigner bars and strip clubs.. to my surprise A LOT of strip clubs actually. After stopping by basically every 7-11 we saw so the guys could get a to-go beer, we wandered into a British-style pub. I’m not much of a drinker, but I am definitely an avid people watcher. We managed to meet some very interesting characters and our night eventually ended when a very loud Australian ex-rugby player got a little too rough with me and the other girl.
But, a scary taxi ride later (where I was again reminded that even the taxi drivers can understand English in Hong Kong.. an embarrassing lesson to learn) and we were back at the hostel. The only thing worth mentioning after this point is that one of the girls staying in my room happened to have graduated from the SAME College as me on the SAME day! (Fight on!) Seriously, what a small world.
I wish I had known that Hong Kong had so much nature to explore.. if I go back I will surely skip the city in favor of the lakes and waterfalls. I mean, the city was great but once you’ve seen one city/downtown area.. you’ve basically seen them all. But Hong Kong was so much fun regardless. Even though my first Dim Sum experience was sub par.. I had another that surely made up for it and I even enjoyed some delicious and extremely fresh sushi.
I can’t wait to visit Hong Kong again.. it was like New York City, but better!
Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What was your favorite part?