We woke up early and sampled our ‘Moon Cakes’ that we bought from a local bakery the night before. Ours were filled with a pineapple filling and it was a very dense cake so we were pretty full after eating one. They must be really important because people were going out the door with boxes and boxes of moon cakes. We were feeling anxious to get to Hong Kong and see what the Mid-Autumn Festival was all about.
We organized our bus ticket from Yangshuo to Guilin with Lucy at the hotel. She told us that a minivan would pick us up at 8:00am and bring us to the main bus station where we would board a ‘big bus’ to the train station in Guilin. Well 8:00am arrived and our minivan driver did not. Luckily Lucy showed up right about the time I was starting to feel that anxious feeling well up in the pit of my stomach. She brought us out to the main road and flagged down the bus (more like a large minivan rather than a big bus and I don’t think it had any shocks – oh my sore butt). It’s been our experience the entire time in China that things do not happen the way they tell you they will, and everything always seems to be a bit convoluted but thankfully it just works out and the end result is okay.
We took the bullet train from Guilin to Shenzhen. As a side note, one thing I noticed while on the train was the number of high rise buildings, mostly apartments that were just empty. I have seen this a lot throughout our travels in China and when I asked various people about it they just nod and say “yes they are empty” – but why? So I had to look it up and there are many different theories as to why these buildings sit empty. When we arrived in Shenzhen we took the subway to the Fujian Checkpoint and cleared customs and immigration for entry to Hong Kong. After immigration we got on another subway train and took it all the way to the TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) where we were staying. The location of our hotel was fantastic, it was only a five minute walk from the TST station and we were also within walking distance to the pier where you could take various ferries around the city.
We had read the Fiery Dragon would be making its way around some of the streets near Victoria Park for the Mid-Autumn Festival and also there would be a lantern display. So we had a quick bite and took the subway to Victoria Park in hopes to the see the Tai Hang Fire Dragon. Locals believe that it can ward off disasters and bring good luck. They also believe that the full harvest moon shines the brightest. It was extremely crowded and we could smell the dragon long before we could see it. It’s made up of thousands and thousands of incense sticks and it’s around 67 meters long. It takes 200 people to hold it up and parade it around, it was quite something to see!
It took us a really long time to leave the area where the fire dragon was because of the amount of people but we finally made it out of there. Before heading back to the hotel we strolled through the park to see all the lanterns on display. It was pretty with all the lights.
The next morning we decided to take the subway to Lantau Island. We enjoyed a long and very high cable car ride up to Ngong Ping Village. It was a great way to spend part of the day and take in the views.
We also visited Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. Both of these were well worth visiting and we enjoyed our time here.
The entire inside of the temple had small Buddha’s inserted in the wall (that is not wallpaper), it was incredible.
We managed to get back to the waterfront at the TST for the ‘Symphony of Lights’ laser light and sound show. This should not be missed while in Hong Kong, it was cool not just to see all the buildings light up but to see it coordinated to music made it fun. It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest lighting and music show.
On our second day we did a self-guided walking tour of Wong Tai Sin and Kowloon City. Our first stop was at the Nan Lian Garden, it’s very old and was built in the Tang Dynasty – wow this garden really was impressive. It was so beautiful and meticulously manicured, not to mention a great place to chill out for a while.
Connected to the garden was the Chi Lin Nunnery so we visited that as well and we’re so glad we did, it was beautiful.
After the Garden we visited the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. It’s one of the largest and most popular temples in Hong Kong. According to a local legend Wong Tai Sin is able to make every wish come true. The temple houses three different religions, Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
We made a quick stop at the Hau Wong Temple. It had some interesting cultural artifacts but it’s a small temple so our visit here was short.
We ended our walking tour at the Kowloon Walled City Park. This place really piqued my interest because of the sordid past it had a short time ago. It used to be the Kowloon Walled City which was a densely populated and ungoverned city within a city. Somehow it remained outside British jurisdiction when Hong Kong became a colony. From the 1950’s to the 1970’s it was ruled by organized crime and drugs, gambling and prostitution were commonplace. It was dirty and unsafe, sickness was prevalent here. By 1987 it was a small city with around 40,000 people and at that time the Hong Kong Government announced that it would demolish the city. The only building that would be preserved would be the Yamen Building and a park would be built on the site. The park officially opened in late 1995.
This is what the walled city looked like before it was demolished.
In the evening we took in the Mong Kok market and the Temple Street market. Both markets were ‘okay’ but I could have easily skipped both of these.
On our last day we hopped on the bus and went out to the Village of Stanley which is on Hong Kong Island’s south side. There were many nice beaches in the area and the scenery was beautiful. The little Village of Stanley was fun to walk around and it also had a nice market to browse. We had lunch here by the sea and visited two small temples before taking the bus back.
Since we were already on Hong Kong Island we took the opportunity to visit the ‘Peak’. It’s listed as the top ‘to do’ in Hong Kong. The views over the city and Victoria Harbour were fantastic! We took the bus up and the funicular down, the funicular was way faster.
We loved Hong Kong. It’s a vibrant, lively, cultural, wild city that has us thinking about returning again!
Where we stayed: Hotel Pravo
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel