Hong Kong – Capturing the Oriental Spirit, Good Bye Hong Kong

Hong Kong, April 2018: My last day on Hong Kong is spent mooching around Tsim Sha Tsui with a tinge of sadness. As the sun sets, another look at the iconic Hong Kong skyline with the Star Ferry fixed permanently in the foreground. Tomorrow I’m packing up and shipping out to Malaysia and ultimately Penang where a new chapter with Backpacker Paul will begin. Air Asia to Kuala Lumper with a short layover before taking the 30 minute flight north to Penang Island.

Hong Kong leaves one with a mixed bag of emotions. At first I didn’t really care for the urban jungle of Kowloon, incessant traffic and the overcrowding. As part of a learning curve if you will, one learns that this is in essence the ‘rhythm of the city’ that has to be embraced. One also learns to dig deeper and discover life beyond the shopping malls, plazas and tourist paths. So, as the sun sets and the airport bus beckons tomorrow morning, I’m left feeling that Hong Kong is unfinished business. Yes, 12 days wasn’t really enough and I’d like to return next year and discover more of the place’s recent history.

So, while I wing my way down to Malaysia, here’s a photographic summary that I hope you will agree captures the ‘Spirit of Hong Kong’

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Good Night Hong Kong, until we meet again…

Hong Kong – The Cost of Solo Travel

Hong Kong, April 2018: Having spent just under 2 weeks in Hong Kong and I can tell you its not by any means a cheap destination, but then what developed nation is? Ranked with the likes of Singapore and Seoul, Hong Kong is in the top league of the worlds most expensive places to live. The wheels of commerce in Hong Kong bow to the highest bidder thus inflating the cost of living for everyone, not least those at the bottom of the economic spectrum. Over the last 12 days I have managed to stretch my travel £s without having to sleep on the local park bench, forage for food in dumpsters or beg with some kind of sob story.  Not knowing much about the prices of stuff, I set a budget of £1000 including flights. To see how my Hong Kong expense account shapes up, read on.

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The first of 3 white beggars over the 12 days!

Accommodation: For the cost conscious traveler, Chungking Mansions will likely be the first and only port of call when looking for a low cost single room. When every penny counts bunking down here will save hundreds of £s. The best I could do was a tiny single room at £24 per night  multiplied 12 times equals an accommodation bill of £288.

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Chungking Mansions for the adventurous!

Food: When it comes to food I have one golden rule to follow – skip the tourist stuff and eat local, with locals! Tourist food is often fancied up to justify the higher prices and is essentially the same foods found elsewhere anyway. I often ate at porridge and noodle bars at lunch and I would try to find Cafe de Coral at all other times. Its a chain of cheap and cheerful cafes, found everywhere, and serves wonderfully tasty food at a reasonable price and with good portions too. Its good way to stretch the food budget at dinner time, and breakfast.  The average daily food bill was around £12 multiplied 12 times equates to a reasonable chow bill of £144. 

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A cheap and cheerful way to stretch the £s. Packed with locals every night.

Getting around: Using public transport across Hong Kong is easy and surprisingly good value. The MRT rides range between 40p to about £1.30 the the end of the line. The buses too are exceedingly cheap with a 30 minute journey costing  just 90p maximum. The whole public transport system is integrated with Google maps so navigation is a simple as ABC including the Airport Bus, only £3 single trip ticket. Not forgetting the famous Star Ferry, costs just 27p each way and is a great 7 minute ride. Total spend on getting around plus 4 airport transfers came to £21.50 give or take a few pence.

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Buses from Nathan Road according to Google Maps

Groceries: Good coffee comes at a high price in Hong Kong. One won’t get much change from HK$40-50 for that Americano or Latte. Some chains are getting away with charging around £7 for a large one and clearly folks are happy to pay up. To save on beverage costs I’d find a supermarket and surprisingly a jar of Nescafe comes in at a reasonable £3 while a box of 40 Liptons tea bags costs £1.50 – so really not that much more than UK prices. Milk is in good supply to, so were all set to save big on hot drinks. Toiletries too are similar to UK pricing – toothpaste, deodorant   etc. Total groceries spend comes at around £8 across 12 days.  

I’m more than happy to go without booze (I don’t drink it), night clubbing (finished the 18-30 stage in life), drugs (never), smoking (never) and Disneyland (Nah!) thus a 12 day stay in Hong Kong costed me (Excluding £120 airfare) a grand total of £461.50. 

Hong Kong – 10 Top Sights Well Worth Seeing

Hong Kong, April 2018: As this trip to Hong Kong draws to an end its time for my customary summation post. Hong Kong is a place that can be best described as an eclectic mix of personalities. Outside some of the well beaten tourist paths one can find mystery (Walled City Park), excitement (Victoria Peak) and tranquility (Checkerboard Hill). So, here’s my 10 sights worth seeing in Hong Kong in order of preference. I’m not one for Disneyland or tourist cable car rides, museums or art galleries and I’m not big on nightlife either, so that’s why they won’t feature here. Instead, if you want a good rundown of a cultural experience then read on!

Number 10: Lei Yue Mun. As though time has stood still here at this fishing village. In the shadows of skyscrapers see traditional Sampan boats and a modernised junk in the little harbour. Great spot for seafood lovers. That Post here

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Lei Yue Mun

Number 9: Cha Kwo Ling. Discover a little patch of heritage on Kowloon – Dragon boat, 1956 village hall… read the post here

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Cha Kwo Ling

Number 8: Pok Fu Lam Village. The last historic settlement on Hong Kong Island. A tranquil mix of old and new. Visit now before the bulldozers move in! . Read the post here

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Pok Fu Lam

Number 7: Shau Kei Wan. On Hong Kong Island its a town with character and without tourists. Why not ride the historic tram there. Read it here.

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Shau Kei Wan

Number 6: Shek O. Great village, great scenery, good food at reasonable prices and a great big beach. Read all about it here. 

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Shek O Beach

Number 5: Hong Kong Bird Park. What better way to spend an afternoon than with a bunch of exotic birds. Situated within Hong Kong Islands city park, easy to get to and its free. Read about it here.

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Hong Kong Birds

Number 4: Kowloon Walled City Park. A facet of Hong Kong’s recent history not to be missed. A fine display here, free too. Oh, don’t forget to visit the nearby temple! Read that post here.

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Kowloon Walled City Park

Number 3: Checkerboard Hill. Visit here for tranquil views across Kowloon City. No traffic noise, just the tweeting of birds and a few ghosts of the old Kai Tak Airport! Read the post here.

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On Checkerboard Hill

Number 2: Cheung Chau Island. Almost a step back in time as one encounters traditional wooden sampans lining the harbour. A good beach destination too. Read that post here.

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Cheung Chau

Number 1: Lugard Road, Victoria Peak. Yes, its number 1 on everyone’s lists and for good reason. The views from Victoria Peak or nothing short of unique and stunning. Take the short walk along Lugard road to avoid Chinese pushing and shoving. Read that post here.

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On Victoria Peak

Hong Kong – Sex in the City, after Dark in Hong Kong

CAUTION: This post contains dialogue of an adult nature and thus not suitable for under 18’s. 

Hong Kong, April 2018: Under the cover of darkness one will observe a completely different accent of life in Hong Kong. Here in Tsim Sha Tsui shady characters emerge from the dark lanes with something to offer – quite what I don’t know since I won’t stop. What I do know is if one engages with these people it often ends up as an expensive mistake. Then there are those ladies of the night. yes, prostitutes, maybe ladyboys, are lurking in dark doorways and on street corners, smiling politely at all the passing boys! Out of the shadows though and the place is a vibrant bloom of neon’s, LED’s, traffic and people. Yes, its all just as busy by night as it is by day, perhaps busier with an atmosphere that one can only describe as ‘on the edge’. When wandering around here its a good idea to hold onto ones wallet and not flash too much expensive bling.

Hong Kong Island is just as vibrant. The skyscrapers playing a major part in keeping the skyline colourful by night. As soon as darkness falls, they illuminate from top to bottom creating a light show that some might compare to that of Las Vegas.

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Hong Kong Island by night

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Hong Kong City Hall

Temple Street (Google Map) is the hotspot for tourists at night. The place is known for its spicy crab restaurants and street market. Yes, hundreds of tourists flock here to gulp down their spicy crabs before taking a stroll around the endless array of stalls selling all the good stuff tourists come to buy. Also its the first night market I’ve been to that comes with prostitutes! Skulking in the shadows behind the stands are some scantily dressed girls waggling their fingers with a wide grin. Then in the shadows of the doorways to housing units that are adjacent to the market stalls are some rather dodgy looking old-timers, sitting, pretending to read a newspaper. As one passes by, they glance up and with a sideways nod invite their potential customer to take a look inside. For £12 one can choose a girl and get a nice massage for 20 minutes so I am informed! Do I have the nerve to take up the offer? After all its only a massage, what could go wrong? Its a prospect that excites while at the same time may be asking for trouble. Well, thanks but not this time.

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Personally, tourist night markets don’t interest me all that much. A seemly endless line of repetitive stalls – all the same stuff at the same price and one is board after about 5 or 10 minutes. Here in Temple Street its just like that, but those people in the shadows gives this place an exciting twist! I suspect those massages may have ended up being more than one had been expecting.

 

Hong Kong – On the Kowloon Peninsular

Hong Kong, April 2018: The Kowloon peninsular is home to a variety of world class hotels, a handful of not so world class hotels and a smattering of shady joints. About 80% of Hong Kong’s tourist accommodation is here on the peninsular creating the insanely busy ghetto of Tsim Sha Tsui. Having spent the last 9 days coming and going from the place one tends to make observations and form opinions on what must be the planets most densely packed square mile. The most obvious fact is that the place is full of Chinese. About 70% of the visitors here are main-land Chinese with plenty of cash to burn. They form queues to get into top shops like Gucci and then fill suitcases full of chocolates and cosmetics! The second most obvious fact is that visitors to Hong Kong are here in the main to shop. The place is crammed with jewellery stores, glitzy malls and so much swankiness it actually gets a bit boring after 10 minutes – especially for those of us that don’t have the means or even inclination to frivolously spend thousands of Dollars on diamond rings and such like. Nonetheless, a bit of window shopping can’t hurt – can it? But first lets try to comprehend the concept that the Chinese are flooding into Hong Kong to buy stuff made in China – no, me neither!

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Just like MacDonalds, there’s one on every street, almost!

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Can you spot Starbucks? Well, done here’s 10 points!

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Something British, made in China, sold in Hong Kong

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Come and get some bargains, Hong Kong Style!

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How extraordinary!

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Shops, malls and plazas all the way to the Star Ferry

If one needs some posh digs in Hong Kong, here’s a few of names to be getting on with…

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Bentley’s and Rolls Royce’s queue to the front door…

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“Please Sir, how much is your cheapest room?”

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Rooms at HK$ 120 on Agoda.com

In-between the opulence one can find a more down to earth experience in the side streets and alleyways that cross Tsim Sha Tsui. Counters selling electronics and touristy knickknacks are in plentiful supply but are not cheap – those days during the 70’s and 80’s of dirt cheap seem to be over! Prices here are more or less what one would pay in the UK. Rubbing shoulders with fancy restaurants one can easily find a place that sells reasonable priced chow – its called MacDonald’s and is easily spotted. Actually, being serious for a moment, there really are plenty of non swanky places to eat for those of us on a small budget – just walk around between Nathan Road and Temple Street, you’ll see.

Next stop after the Kowloon Peninsular is of course Hong Kong Island. While there are thousands of tourists crossing to the other side there is at least another thousand milling around on the promenade taking selfie photo’s with the worlds most eligible background, The skyscrapers of Hong Kong, especially during sunset.

Across the water..

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A Replica Junk Boat for Tourist Effect

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£32 for a 45 minute ride from Tsim Sha Tsui Pier 1

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A Genuine Junk, the last known of its kind and now a tourist boat

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As the Sunsets across the water

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On The Tsim Sha Tsui  Promenade

Other than shopping and taking selfie photos at the waterfront there’s plenty more to Tsim Sha Tsui. A few museums under construction and renovation plus an avenue of stars and a celebrity garden, or something like that! Also a couple of colonial buildings reside in the place. Personally, I’m not that interested in museums and such but for those seeking a more comprehensive guide to the tourist ghetto I’d recommend clicking over to Google maps where there is a mind-blowing guide of whats around the place.

Hong Kong – Shau Kei Wan, A Town With Character

Hong Kong, April 2018: Shau Kei Wan is a town on Hong Kong Islands eastern flank. Its origins date back to the early 18th century as a small fishing village at the base of the hills and is notable for having a natural bay suitable as a storm shelter and a great hideout for pirates. As with everywhere else in Hong Kong, Chinese immigration forced a substantial population increase post World War 2 and with the erection of squatter camps along the shore and in the surrounding hills the place was set to become a squalid shanty, not to mention the hundreds of boats anchored in the bay. By Mid’s 70’s the place was bulldozed, land reclaimed  and with the construction of mass housing blocks Shau Kei Wan became the clean modern new town it is today, but with the shoreline now some distance from the centre (info gleaned from Wikipedia).

I’m here in Shau Kei Wan having just arrived from a days excursion to Shek O Beach (that post here). Glancing around the place one can immediately detect a whole load of character. Next to the bus station is a hive of activity with a few shop houses under the tower blocks and a traditional street market here too.

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Thankfully the plethora of hi-rise isn’t blocking out the lovely afternoon sunshine. The colours and smells adding a degree of vibrancy I haven’t seen in a while. Locals going about their business completely ignoring the fact there is a tourist amongst them – and that is something I don’t mind at all. The town core is pretty much residential while on the fringes towards the reconstructed shoreline are a few boat building sheds and car repair garages, with old oil seeping onto the road! Further on and one can spot high on the crest of a hill some kind of military installation. On closer inspection, its a museum – The Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence. Closed on Mondays, oh well that’s on the list for another day. Back to the town centre then and a tram ride to Central.

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Town Centre Residencies

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Taking it easy in the town square, former boat dweller perhaps!

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Making the most of warm sunshine

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The High Street

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Mid 70’s housing

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Hong Kong Tram

The Hong Kong Trams began life back in 1903 connecting pretty much the entire length of Hong Kong Island from here in Shau Kei Wan, through downtown and onto Kennedy town in the far west. The price, a flat 20p for however long one rides for. Yes, end to end for just 20p, but I’m getting off at Central hopefully. The stop guides are actually difficult to fathom out, so its a case of carefully following Google Maps until one get close to Central. The rather vintage looking cars are packed to the rafters, its a squeeze to get on but in the end one has to push like a Chinese tourist! Its a painfully slow ride with the thing stopping every 4-5 minutes but after about an hour and 15 the tram closes in on downtown where one has to alight for the Central pier. I got on in daylight, I’m getting off in darkness! well, not complete darkness of course since the skyscrapers around here are well illuminated, especially the HSBC building.

 

 

Hong Kong – Aldrich Bay Typhoon Shelter, Shau Kei Wan

Hong Kong, April 2018: Aldrich Bay is just a short stomp north of Shau Kei Wan town on Hong Kong Island. Since the sun is shining and in a good position for some decent photographic shots across the water, I’m heading towards the typhoon shelter on the north shoreline (Google Map)  where one should get a good view of east Kowloon and the Kowloon Bay. Just a 10 minute stomp then, passing under the east/west highway and one arrives at Aldrich Bay Typhoon Shelter and some pretty nice views across the waters, bathed in evening golden sunlight.

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In the old days of Sampans and Chinese Junks –  here was a natural bay where those who spent their lives on the waters around Hong Kong could seek refuge from inclement weather. Mid 20th century and this place would have been heaving with hundreds of the traditional wooden sampan boats and Junks housing entire families and communities calling Aldrich bay their home. Thanks to land reclamation the bay has disappeared under several tons of concrete and thus a typhoon shelter exsists for the few that are left. Today I can see a handful of sampans mixed up with a trawler or two and some swanky plastic cruisers, plenty of space in the harbour then for about 300 more sampans. Here’s a great 10 minute Youtube video of Sampan life Hong Kong 1980 . So, what happened to all those boat dwellers? Well, here’s what Wikipedia writes about Aberdeen on the south coast but I would guess can be equally applied across the whole of Hong Kong’s former boat communities.

“Aberbeen Floating Village community has decreased due to rapid fisheries development in the nearby Guangdong Province and the increase in operating costs of the fishing industry in Hong Kong. Instead of living on the boat permanently, now the majority of the boat people only fish on the boat during the day. Today, most of the descendants of the floating people at Aberdeen chose to be relocated to high-rise accommodations on dry land”

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Boat dwellers, where are they now?

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Traditional wooden sampan in Aldrich Bay 2018

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A Historical view of Aldrich Bays natural harbour

 

Moving along the promenade towards quarry bay and one gets a marvellous view across to east Kowloon and the Kowloon Bay. The plethora of housing towers has a somewhat mesmerizing effect in the golden light of the evening sunshine while the cruise ship terminal on Kai Tak’s old runway reflects its silver linings on the horizon. Oh, and there’s a little village right on the edge of suburbia.

Views from Aldrich Promenade… 

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Lei Yue Mun Village, a natural shoreline.

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Cheung Lung Tin and Lam Tin

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Old Kai Tak Runway Cruise Ship Terminal, Lion Rock on the horizon

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Kowloon Bay

On the promenade here there’s a rather large old red boat in some kind of preservation mode. A quick look around here as they are about to shut for the day (16.45) reveals its former use as a fire fighting boat. On Google maps as Fireboat Alexander Grantham an is a fine memorial with plenty of interior exhibitions to look at. Sadly I don’t have time for a comprehensive look, maybe next time. Now, I have to get back to town and catch a tram! In the meantime here’s what Wikipedia writes about Hong Kongs old fireboat.

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Fireboat Alexander Grantham

Hong Kong – Shek O Village Beach

Hong Kong, April 2018: Located on Hong Kong Island’s southeastern peninsular is the village of Shek O. Google maps satellite imagery indicates a small settlement with a big beach leading to the Shek O Headland for some possible hiking. Since today is one of those rare sunshine days, escaping the insanely busy Tsim Sha Tsui with a jaunt to the beach sounds like a good plan.

Another ride on the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Central, then a ride to Shau Kei Wan MTR station on the blue line. From here, exit A3 into the bus station will find the number 9 bus to Shek O (Google Maps). A Kowloon Motor Bus double-decker rolls up within a few minutes and after handing over about 80p, one is on the way to Shek O village and beach. Rolling green hills, a beach and blue(ish) sea, its a picture postcard view as the bus descends towards the village from a ridge known as the Dragons Back.

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A Long Queue for the 9 to Shek O

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Picture postcard view, Shek O beach

A quaint as Hong Kong gets I’d say. SheK O is a very small place with one small high street branching right at the roundabout – the beach road. A high street full of selfie obsessed Chinese tourists clearly enjoying the old character and charm they probably don’t get to see to often. And charming it is! While the place wont win any architectural awards it does boast plenty of mid 20th Century character.

The high street rolls into Shek O Headland Road at Just about a 15 minute stomp from getting off the bus. The road narrows into a track and as there seem plenty of folk heading that way the best thing to do is follow the crowd! Actually to say crowd is something of an exaggeration, not really that many folk here, although on a weekend I’d say the place could be heaving. As its a weekday day, Shek O remains a sleepy little place under the hot morning sunshine. Onto the headland then for a little hike, fresh sea air and some scenic photos.

From the Shek O Headland…

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Well maintained paths make hiking the headland easy

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Looking back towards Shek O and the Lovers Bridge

Hiking the headland doesn’t take long, just about 20 minutes is enough to capture the scenes and get some fresh air. Its connected to the village by an iron bridge, on Google maps as ‘Shek O Lovers Bridge’. Probably a good spot for some romance at sunset then! By day though there are plenty of folk coming and going across the narrow bridge that also provides access to the nearby rocks. With waves crashing, its a popular place for a Chinese selfie!

As Lunchtime beckons time to head back in Shek O Village. The village roundabout seems to be the focal point being surrounded on one-side with a few cafes jam packed with white tourists! Thankfully, lining the beach car park on the otherside are some local joints where one can grab some cheap and cheerful local chow and eat with the locals. With my non-existent Mandarin and their pigeon English I’ve ended up with another tasty bowl of noodles and the coffees good too. Time to hit the Shek O beach now that my energy levels have recovered to near normal.

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Local food at the beach car park

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Time to hit Shek O Beach

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Easily the best beach I seen in Hong Kong to date. A wide stretch of clean white sand with clear blue water glistening in the afternoon sunshine makes for a very inviting few hours. No motorised jet skis or speed boats to tangle with and there’s plenty of shade under the nearby trees. The place even has showers to wash away all that sand between ones toes. A serviced beach aimed at families I’d say given that there are 4 lifeguard towers, one is going to feel pretty safe – Jaws, well, I hope not! For those who really wan’t a drink with a view, there is one place right on the beach but be warned, its expensive, enough to make even Lord Sugar weep!. That regular coffee is going to cost £6.50 and that pint of Heineken beer will cost £9.50.

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No Service Charge! Unsurprisingly the place is empty

A Few more photo’s…

In Summary...

Shek O Beach is a great excursion being just a short bus ride from the metropolis. It’ll be heaving on Summer weekends and holidays but with such a wide expanse there’ll be room for everyone. Great local food without price surcharging is available next to the car park but right on the beach you,ll pay for it heavily. If Jaws turns up, don’t worry as there’s plenty of life guards to save the day!

 

 

Hong Kong – Kowloon City

Hong Kong, April 2018: Situated between the Kowloon walled City Park and the old Kai Tak airport is an area known geographically as the Kowloon City. About a dozen streets in a north/south configuration crammed with restaurants and shops on top of which are residential blocks. Due to the proximity of the now disused Kai Tak airport development had been restricted somewhat for fear of pilots and passengers spotting naked ladies taking their rooftop baths! well, perhaps an urban myth, but essentially the area of Kowloon city should be little changed since post war development escalated Kowloon into the metropolis it is today. Let’s go and take a look.

About 20 minutes walk from Lok Fu MTR Station along Junction and one will arrive first at the Kowloon City Plaza – a once famous spot for plane enthusiasts. Opened in 1993 the place has a roof top car park where plane spotters from across the world gathered to watch aircraft landing at the nearby airport. Today, its largely empty – half a dozen cars and me but its a good spot for some rooftop photos of Kowloon city.

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The Roofs of Kowloon City

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Kowloon City’s Rooftop Slums

Kowloon City’s infamous rooftop slums, illegal but home to those left behind as Hong Kong’s economy evolves from a once thriving manufacturing base to land speculation and stock market gambling. This all equates to the most expensive housing on the planet thus those at the very bottom of society have no option but to survive on rooftops, out of sight of the authorities. Another sight to see from here on the Kowloon City Plaza car park is of the Kowloon Walled city area, now a park but still one can imagine what the place must have looked like with plenty of images floating around the internet.

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Sited here was the Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong’s most well known slum – now its a park.

Here’s a few aerial photos of the Kowloon Walled City at various point in time between 1945 and 1993. These photos are gleaned from various sources around the net and I believe them to be in the public domain although I’m happy to be corrected.

 

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Centre: Kowloon Walled City, Top Right: Kai Tak Airport Terminal, Centre Right: Kowloon City, Bottom Right: Kowloon City Plaza, Centre Left: Mei Tung Estate, Bottom Centre: Carpenter Road Park

At street level and one observes a less frantic pace of life compared to the tourist ghetto of the Kowloon Peninsular. School kids roaming the streets, old-timers hobbling across the road trying to beat the crossing lights and Dim Sum steaming gently at the street corner food counters. Also steaming happily are those big old soup cauldrons – witches brew or not, a tasty concoction with noodles! I’d say with a big wide grin “welcome to authentic Hong Kong”

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Hong Kong – Kowloon Walled City Park, Kowloon City

Hong Kong, April 2018: Yet another damp overcast day here in Tsim Sha Tsui as I step out of Chungking Mansions and onto the frantically busy Nathan Road. As the crossing lights change to green, a tidal wave of tourists from 3 directions crash in the middle creating a peak of activity that must represent the most populated spot on the planet in that 2 second time frame!  Today, I’m off to discover a unique and fascinating piece of history – The Kowloon Walled City. Actually the Kowloon walled city became history as recently as 1993 when the authorities pulled the place down. So, now whats left? well, lets go and see. First, for some background to the place here’s a good Youtube video I’d recommend viewing.

The Walled City Park is easy to find, even without Google Maps! Alight at Lok Fu MTR station and stroll along Junction Road for about 15 minutes. Just before reaching the park one encounters an urban temple – Hau Wong Temple according to Google. These temples are often worth a quick poke around especially now, since its just started to rain. Chance then to dry out a little while marvelling at some of the ornate architecture here. These clay figurines are a common sight in Chinese temples, clearly there to represent a story or myth, but quite what its all about is anyone’s guess – except the Chinese of course!

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Hau Wong Temple

 

Just a few meters further along the Junction road is an entrance to the Kowloon Walled City Park. A well presented landscape covered in trees, various plants and a few ponds. One could say a thriving little oasis of greenery in what is a rather drab district of Hong Kong. The parks has only been established since the mid 90’s and its doing pretty well by the looks of things. Prior to that, this piece of land was said to be the most populated patch of soil on the planet – 50,000 residents packed into 6 1/2 acres. A ghetto of illegal migrants from China mostly and with plenty of underworld activities within, the Kowloon Walled City was considered to be off limits – even to the police! In 1993 it all came tumbling down. Faced with the wrath of a wrecking ball, residents were rehoused in the local area, dissipated skywards in these huge mass housing blocks. YouTube has ton of material on the Kowloon Walled City and the myths that surrounded it, including a fine documentary by the BBC’s Alan Wicker.

Its hard to imagine that here on this spot were dark and often dangerous alleyways filled by day with kids playing, but by night with prostitutes, drugs touts and Triad gangs. No wonder it eventually all had to be demolished. All that’s left of the Walled city today are a few remnants and some foundations, a befitting memorial to what would have been an interesting place to visit had I known about its existence on my last visit here in 1987!

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Foundations within the Kowloon Walled City Park

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A Fine rendition of the Kowloon Walled City @1993 Looking north to south

The Park itself is of course in dedication to those who survived and those who didn’t, within the Kowloon Walled City. Regardless of the urban myths floating around, the place was home to an awful lot of law abiding citizens – All 50,000 inhabitants couldn’t really have been members of the underworld, could they?

A stroll around the park takes about 1/2 an hour depending on how long one spends reading the historical display. A fine presentation taking visitors back to Hong Kong’s mid 1800’s era.

Kowloon Walled City Park…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kowloon Walled City looking west to east. Hills to the north are being excavated with public housing blocks on the eastern flank, probably Mid 1970’s

 

Kowloon Walled City Park 2018…