Monday, March 3, 2014

off the tourist path... in Hong Kong

Chill and I were in Hong Kong for a total of three days for the Asia Society HK food program. It would've been too bad if we weren't able to explore this cosmopolitan city... especially since we were not in any tour group. This meant we didn't have to spend time in a jewelry shop (at last!) and that we'd decipher how to ride the subway and the cable car. Basically, we retraced some of the steps I've taken when I was last in Hong Kong with the Grain Quality group and then added a few more stops.

Victoria Harbour and Avenue of the Stars
These two venues got very crowded even with the low temperature. 

Despite the cold, Chill and I decided to suck it up and watch the Symphony of Lights. It's a 15-minute entertaining show of light beams shooting from some of the skyscrapers lining the Victoria Harbour in time with a music. The best thing about it is that it's free since we opted to watch from the Kowloon side of the harbor. However, this did not lend the best view. If we wanted to see everything, we should've ridden one of the ferries along the harbor for a fee; then we'd see the lights as they bounced off the buildings on both sides of the harbor. It was still a fun show, though. 

The Avenue of the Stars is a tourist spot that I don't get yet. But maybe I don't get thrilled because I don't know a lot of the celebrities whose names dot the walkway. I mean, I only recognize Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, and Bruce Lee! I'm sure the other artists are also popular in this region; I'm just not the proper audience, given that I was a visitor from a different country. Though I didn't know many of the celebrities, I felt that this venue really must be an area for the stars. There were street musicians, lots of cameras, and lots of people excited to see an artist's handprint.

Temple Street Night Market
I remember going to the Ladies' Market the last time I was around. So for this adventure, I brought Chill to the Temple Street Night Market. I'm not sure if it's because of the timing but I felt that there was a smaller crowd than I'd expected. I was able to test my haggling skills and discovered that these were still no match to my Mom's. Hehehe. She is one of the best bargain shoppers I've seen in action.

Central District
I've never explored this side of Hong Kong during my previous visits. Rarely do tourists get veered by guides into the city center; the tours I've been in mostly focused on the "tourist traps": theme parks, jewelry outlet stores, and bargain shopping areas. If busloads of tourists did visit the business district  when I went around, they'd have been less conspicuous... I was the only one who's obviously new in the area, complete with the SLR camera!

International Finance Centre
The highlight of my off-the-beaten-track tour. I insisted on seeing the building Batman jumped onto in The Dark Knight... I didn't want to just see the facade (visible from the Kowloon side); I intended to see what's inside the two buildings. I mean, I've seen the buildings' exteriors before. It's about time I go in and check out the interiors.

The opportunity to explore 1IFC and 2IFC came hours before Chill and my flight back to Manila. Inside, we saw an upscale shopping complex and one of the birds' eye views of this side of Hong Kong. The view was nothing short of awesome. I am not used to seeing skyscrapers in such a close range and in such density so being at a level higher than many of them was quite a bit of a shock... like a country mouse's first time in the big city.

Overall, my first Hong Kong exploration adventure outside of the tourist pack was a fulfilling experience. I want to do it all over again!!