Sharon and I traveled to Hong Kong and the Phillipines in November 2009. We spent 3 days in the Phillipines doing a bit of shopping and saw a few sites. We then flew to Manila where we stayed with some friends, doing lots of shopping drinking and touring. Thanks for Neil and Avon for having us and being such great hosts.
We arrived in Hong Kong at 5:00 AM after a 12 hour direct flight from Toronto. We flew Cathay Pacific. After hearing so many good things about Cathay, I was expecting it to be amazing. It was very average, especially compared to Emirates. We took a cab to our hotel, the Bishop Lei. It was on the Hong Kong side at Mid Levels. We had a small suite with a great view of the city. It was also affordable, around $125 USD per night. H1N1 was a big concern and they had plastic over all the commonly used surfaces which they said they changed every hour.
Walking in the bathroom, there was a big sign that said “Tap water must be boiled prior to drinking”. Welcome to Asia, this is a common problem and so we made sure to buy bottled water. We slept for a few hours and then Sharon insisted we begin shopping and sightseeing.
The gallery is of a mix of pictures of Hong Kong that I couldn’t really categorize. The pictures that look like paintings are high dynamic range photos. Its a technique where you take 3 pictures of the same object with different exposures and it produces an image with all the detail from each picture.
It was very hazy in Hong Kong and about 22-25C which was a perfect temperature. One thing that surprised me about Hong Kong was how built up into the side of the hills and mountains everything is so the roads and sidewalks are really steep. There is an outdoor escalator that goes from the Mid Levels down to sea level (or Central) and it goes down in the morning and up at night. Getting around in Hong Kong was very efficient and generally cheap. We purchase an Octopus card which gave us unlimited use of the subway and bus routes. Cabs, which were readily available, were $5-10 CAD and always used a meter, something that wasn’t common in other Asian cities we visited.
We spent the day shopping and visited the main markets in Kowloon as well as going up the Peaks to get a great view of the city. Food was good and available in all prices ranges.
The next day Sharon had planned to go see the Sitting Buddha and followed by a night cruise and the seafood market. The Sitting Buddha is located outside the new airport. You take the subway to the end of the line and then can take a cable car or bus to get the site. We opted for a cable car with a clear bottom. I recommend the experience as the views are great. If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to opt for a car with a regular floor.
The cable car takes about 30 minutes to get to the site. You have to walk about another km and then climb up a long set of stairs to the Buddha itself. You walk through a Disney like village with little stores and they also have an excellent massage store which does divine foot rubs. After climbing up and down the Buddha, my feet needed it. Price was reasonable, about $50 USD for an hour massage.
Overall the whole site was well done. It was clean, well laid out. In comparison to the Buddha in Phuket, it was much more modern and better done. The Buddha in Phuket may be taller but it wasn’t complete when we visited in 2007 and the drive up to get to it was a bit horrific. This was quite genteel by comparison.
We went back into town, did more shopping and then wait to the main tourist pier to await our boat for the night time harbour cruise. We had pre-booked but had forgot to confirm. I gave Sharon a bit of shit for that but it worked out in the end. Once again, I must accept that Sharon is always right.
The boat was nothing to look at but it did include as much booze as you can drink. Hong Kong at night is simply amazing. The buildings are all lit up and I have never seen anything quite like it. We sailed towards the end of the harbour and then stopped and walked through the seafood market. Pretty much anything that lived or crawled along the bottom of the seas appeared to be for sale. I didn’t check prices but I suspect it would have been good value. Our cruise included a meal which unfortunately wasn’t that great and certainly didn’t contain many of the goodies that we saw on the walk through the market. Overall, the cruise was good value but did make for a late night. We were shagged by the time we got back to the hotel around 10PM. The thumbnail for the gallery is actually the escalor down from Mid Levels.
We spent another day in Hong Kong and then went over the Phillipines were we spent the bulk of our time. We had a great time in the Phillipines including the nicest hotel experience of our lives.
Here’s a taste of what it was like:
More to come so please check back over the next few weeks.