Hong Kong Day 2 – My adventures in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
“The rain had stopped, leaving the air fresh and easy to breathe. A stark contrast to the streets which were littered with trash from the day’s activities. Walking down the street, with drops of water from the buildings rising above, passing dozens of people scurrying to unknown destinations, shops closing, except for the 7 Eleven during a brisk business selling something. I reached the 24 hour McDonald’s, made a right towards my hotel sitting there like a beacon of light calling me to bed – it’s midnight Hong Kong time…” – quotes from my travel journal
Thursday 9:00am Hong Kong time
I had a fairly good night in my small room at the Dorsett Hotel in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
No real plans for today, just need to get some cash, food and start walking. It’s abundantly obvious that there is too much to see in my short two-day stay in Kowloon, but I will make it a grand adventure to see as much as possible in the time I have.
First stop ATM!
I withdrew $800 Honk Kong dollars, which is about $100 U.S. Dollars as of this writing. [Insert exchange arm fees and cost]
Crazy, but I couldn’t resist!
My first meal in Hong Kong … McDonald’s, the one place that I rarely ever eat in the U.S., Sausage McMuffin, hash browns and the famous “milk tea” of Hong Kong. For only $12.80 H.K. Or about $1.65 U.S. I experienced a traditional McDonald’s, with all of the same decor and basic menu items, a half a world away.
O.K., damage to body done!
Time to get walking.
Well, its more like meandering, than walking. The streets of Kowloon are an interesting maze of asphalt crisscrossing throughout the city with each intersection pulling you in four different directions, begging you to travel down each street and explore its charms. Traffic, as you can imagine, both people wise and motor vehicles are relentless in their flow. Don’t stand in the way or you could end up in the path of someone or something moving much faster than you.
Every street is and island to itself, enclosing one section of the block it brushes. Four sides to a block encompasses its own neighborhood, with a multitude of shops circling the first level and apartments flowing from the second floor to the sky, connected by single entrances leading to the unknown above.
The commerce of each block was a fascinating look at the lives of the people living above. Many blocks, or both sides of one street were composed of specialty shops, unlike anything we commonly have here in the U.S.A.. If you needed to build something, you don’t drive down to the local home improvement store, you go to the street that has all of the specialized building stores on it. Plywood, go to the plywood store which might be next to the spring store which might be next to the paint store, next to the Sheetrock store, etc. Need kitchen supplies? Then you would go down the kitchen store street lined with kitchen stores stocked to the ceiling with every item imaginable.
On almost every block you would find a bakery, produce stand, meat market, and local restaurant all supporting or benefiting from the apartments above.
Turn down another street and you could easily find yourself walking down a street market filled with produce, fish, chickens, meat and trinkets. These street markets are a must visit destination when you find them, they are filled with locals shopping, haggling, visiting and living their lives. It is a beautiful, yet raucous picture of daily life in Asia.
Eventually, after a few hours of wandering, I found a beautiful park to take a well needed rest in, shoot my first ever vlog and find a restroom. One thing I immediately noticed was how clean and well maintained the park was, a theme I found throughout Hong Kong. The landscaping is well maintained, the walkways are swept clean, no graffiti, the beautiful sounds of birds chirping in the shady trees, water features were always a presence in the parks that I visited. It was amazing how well the parks solitude drowned out the deafening noise of the city.
After spending several hours meandering around Kowloon’s amazing streets, I decided to head back to the hotel for a much-needed nap. Slept for about an hour, woke up refreshed and ready to tackle to “tourist” sections of Kowloon, a mistake I didn’t realize until much later …
The first part of this adventure led me back to the Olympic MTR station a few blocks from my hotel, with the plan to get off at the Kowloon station, thinking that would drop me of right next to the Kowloon park. I soon found out that this station dropped me of inside a mega shopping mall several long blocks away from my destination. So I walked and walked and walked to get to one of the many beautiful parks in Kowloon.
Kowloon Park is just beautiful! Located near the heart of downtown Kowloon, it is an island of tranquility in the middle of a maelstrom of people, cars and concrete. Clean walkways meandering through several sections of themed park areas including ponds, fountains, bird sanctuary so, garden mazes, statuary’s and traditions Chinese architecture. It was so enjoyable, that I spent over an hour just gazing at the beautiful landscape features within the park. Truly a must visit destination if you are ever in Kowloon.
This is the downhill adventure of my visit to Kowloon, foolishly heading into the downtown section of massive congestion, people rushing up and down , across and about. My plan was to head down to the Promenade section of Kowloon which is along the harbor, providing a spectacular view of Hong Kong across the water. After fighting my way through several blocks of madness I arrived to a very closed and blocked off Promenade. Not a huge issue, but certainly a disappointment after having gone through some much effort to get there. I should have done my homework here …
Note to self: you don’t like touristy areas!
As it was getting dark by this point, I decided to turn around and head back uphill, through downtown and find the Stanley Street Night Market. The quickest route, downtown, meant suffering through the endless number of street hawkers try to sell me a watch or a suit custom-made by a Taylor they know or are in some cases.
This was on Nathan road if anyone wants to avoid this themselves! Personally, I could walk fast enough to get out of there, though the stores where amazing and the culture was diverse, it was just to painful for me to enjoy.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I hadn’t eaten all day and there was a good reason for this, I was unknowingly starting to get sick with a flu bug. Normally I eat multiple times a day and personally I was very excited to try out the foods of Hong Kong, but my body wasn’t going for it.
I did, after an hour of brisk walking, arrived at the Stanley Street Night Market. One long street filled with outdoor stalls on both sides, in front of the many stores that already lined the street, a shoppers paradise and my first stop for a bite to eat from a street restaurant.
What made this restaurant fun was their expansion from the corner restaurant that they were during the day to a full on, take up half of the street, corner restaurant they became at night. Place the plastic tables in the street, add plastic chairs, table cloths, redirect the flow of pedestrian traffic, add menus and there you have it!
Still not very hungry, but realizing I hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours, which is not normal for me, I sat down and orders a steaming bowl of garlic broccoli and steamed rice with a bottle of water. As many can attest to, sitting in a street late at night, eating a bit of anything makes the food so much better than it can possibly ever be. I was so delighted to just sit there, eat and watch the people pass. Truly food for the soul.
As I returned to my hotel room that night, I realized that I had tried to fit in too much to fast.
But do you really think that was going to slow me down!
Join me for part 3 as I journey over to the island Hong Kong, a little bit sicker but still eager to explore.