This last weekend we took out first real trip to Hong Kong. We went to Hong Kong briefly when we went home in January, but only just passed through and mainly saw just the airport. This time we went for a few days and with our friend Shaun who is a Hong Kong afficianado and was able to show us the ins-and-outs.
Getting to Hong Kong. This is the one area that Shaun was wrong about. He insists that from Shenzhen North train station, take a taxi to Huang Gang port, then take a bus through the border (with having to get out and go through immigration/customs and then get back on the bus) and then taking the bus to a random stop in the city then finding a local bus or taxi to take you to the hotel. But I find the subway to be much cheaper and easier (as to which is faster really depends on traffic which is really bad in Hong Kong). The subway connects directly fro Shenzhen North to FuTian Port. I prefered FuTian to HuangGang. There were far fewer people so we got right through. And that leg of the subway is only 4 RMB per person while a taxi for that portion is over 35. On the otherside of the FuTian customs is the Hong Kong subway system, so it is super easy to just jump on and go wherever you need to go in the city. Definately get an Octopus card. It is good on all transportation in the city (and even some shops and resteraunts!) and will even give you a small discount for using it so it is cheaper. So, long story short – take the subway to FuTian Port to save money, possibly time, and it is definately easier.
Stuff in Honk Kong. Anything you could possibly want or need from the States, they have in Hong Kong. The bookstores sell mostly English-language books. We found Body Shop, Bare Minerals, Mrs. Fields Cookies, Velveeta Cheese, Hummus, Spagetti House, Outback Steakhouse, and on and on and on. Hong Kong is where foreigners can go when they need a taste of home but don’t have the money or time to go all the way back. But Hong Kong is expensive! You are going to pay slightly to significantly more than you would in the States on most things. And when you are living on an English teacher’s salary, that can be one expensive trip.
What to do. There are lots of things to do in Hong Kong. Disneyland, Ocean Park, Museums, the Peak, ferry rides, festivals, concerts. Anything you want. And of course, SHOPPING! Hong Kong has several “famous” night markets. Different blogs and travel sites will tell you which ones are “the best” but it really is up to personal interests and what you are looking for. If you are looking for antiques, definately hit up Hollywood Road. Be discerning, you will get ripped off. But that is part of the fun. Haggle and scrutinize so you don’t look so much like a tourist. Also, be careful what you buy because some things might get you stopped when you go back through customs. If you are going to the States, be very careful about purchasing ivory. There are several shops that sell real ivory jewelry and carvings. But if you are going back to mainland, they don’t seem to care too much about what you are taking back through. I bought an antique iron bow that was quite big, heavy, awkward, and old, and they didn’t even look twice at me (though this is probably also attributed to the fact that they don’t want to stop an American if they don’t have to).
We only had time for one night market, so we went to Temple Street. The first half was crap. Like, literally, cheap-ass yard-sale grade crap and lots of porn/sex toy shops. We were not amused. However, the tents kept going and so did we. Eventually we go to the real temple street (actually had a big red sign saying Temple Street) and the stuff there was OK. They have a few antiques (mostly fake), oil paintings (done by hand, so those are OK), but the real find is cheap Chinese style clothes. They have cheongsam dresses and mandarin style satin shirts for less than 200 HKD (about 180 RMB, about 25 USD) which is a deal you can’t beat. I will be going back to temple street just for this when we go back with Zoe in July. Other than that, I would probably try to hit up a different market.
This trip was mainly a scouting trip for us and some shopping. Seth wanted a new phone and knew it would be cheaper in Hong Kong. And we wanted to find the best ways to get around. We will be going back to HK in July to take Zoe to Disneyland so I’ll be doing a lot more shopping on that trip. We didn’t do much sightseeing really. We went to the Catholic cemetary because it was near our hotel and looked interesting. What was mainly interesting was how crowded it was, just like the city. I found one gravestone with 15 names on it. I guess they are all just stacked up down below.
Then Seth wanted to go to more anime shops and I didn’t, so I went to the Hong Kong History Museum. The musuem is only 10 HKD and is open every day until 7 pm. It was very interesting. They have some very elaborate areas dedicated to Hong Kong’s early settlers (they don’t really have indigenous people, the earliest people were Chinese mainlanders who moved to the island for one reason or another) and some great information on the Opium Wars and Japanese Occupation. It is also right next to the Science Center. Hopefully we will have time to take Zoe there in July.
You can see all the pics I took here.