We arrived in Hong Kong at 7am on a Saturday morning. The weather was chilly and the airport was buzzing. Our first mission was to buy an octopus card and load it with hk dollars. We used this card throughout our trip, and I would highly recommend using one of these to get about the subway system. We boarded the airport express to Kowloon station, where our hotel shuttle did hourly pick ups and drop offs. Unfortunately we got there just on the hour and didn’t know where to look for the shuttle, so we ended up taking a taxi to our hotel (journey cost about hk$55).
We had chosen to stay at the Dorsett Mongkok hotel because of good reviews and close proximity to the subway station (about 5 minutes walk). We were very happy with our choice. We fully prepared ourselves for a ridiculously tiny room (we had read about the small hotel rooms in Hong Kong), but we were very happy with this spot. Unfortunately we weren’t able to check-in until 2pm, but the hotel staff were nice enough to keep our luggage and allow us to freshen up in the lobby bathroom.
Once we had a fresh change of clothes and a quick clean of the face and teeth, we set off for our first stop, Ngong Ping cable car and village. Our main intention of going to visit the village was for the giant Buddha overlooking the village. The 5.7km cable car ride up into the mountains was magnificent, and considering we pay almost the same price for our 5 minute cable car journey up table mountain, we were happy with the hk$250 price tag. It was misty and overcast, which gave it a lonely, eerie feeling. When we eventually got to the top, we took a slow stroll through the misty village.
We hadn’t realized that Chinese new year had recently been celebrated, so it was a lovely surprise to see all the decorations and red lanterns everywhere. We took a few photos before stopping for some side cart food. John was brave enough to try oily balls of fish meat on a stick, while I stuck to spring rolls. (He didn’t enjoy his snack as much as I enjoyed mine). There were lovely little shops all along the small village – mostly catering to tourists. The walk leading up to the monastery was lined with zodiac warrior statues, looking fierce and strong. The monastery was beautiful, there were mosaic details and stone carved statues everywhere. There were also a lot of people praying with large incense sticks. We peeked in a few of the temples, then set out to find what we had really come here for – the giant Buddha.
In order to reach the Buddha, you need to climb a few flights of stairs (all outdoors). We had read that you should only do this climb if you are fit, but I had to disagree. It wasn’t very difficult, and you could easily take it at a slow pace. Please don’t be scared off, it really is a beautiful sight. It also has a lovely view from the top. It was still misty when we reached the top, but as we descended back into the village, it had completely cleared up. We climbed back into the cable car and headed down into the city, catching a last glimpse of the giant Buddha sitting above the mountain trees. I would personally allow about 3 hours for this trip, cable car included, unless you are planning to eat lunch at the top. Once back in the city, we walked around a few different grocery stores to get an idea of prices, then bought ourselves some drinks and sweet snacks. Off we went, back to our hotel to finally check in.
We were very happy with the view from our room – looking over tall skyscrapers and the city. Our room cost approx R1200.00 per night, which was extremely affordable for what we wanted – clean and close to the subway. We had a shower (bathroom was very small but perfectly fine for 3 nights), got changed into some clean clothes and then hopped on the hotel shuttle. This shuttle stopped at various places every hour (ladies market, kowloon station, the ferry etc). We walked around the ladies market and ended up buying quite a few things. I found myself a lovely peacock patterned silk dressing gown – I ended up buying 3 more as presents!
After walking around non stop through markets, we had worked up quite an appetite! We stopped at a small yet busy Chinese restaurant that spoke no English. After using an online translator, we settled on sweet and sour chicken, and a beefy vegetable dish. the food was amazing! Once we were done, we decided it was time to climb into bed. When we had arrived at the ladies market, we hadn’t payed too much attention to exactly where we were getting out of the bus, and we ended up walking in circles trying to figure out where that spot was to be collected from again. The street are overwhelmingly large, lit up and overcrowded. Eventually we admitted defeated and followed the signs to the nearest subway station – hopping on the train back to our hotel room for a full night of peaceful sleep 🙂