Room is tight in Hong Kong, so there is only way and that’s up. And Hong Kong is right up there as one of world’s Alpha+ Cities. Imagine a concrete forest with one skyscraper next to another, like trees holding each others hands, throughout the city. Strolling around you get the feeling the steep valleys of high rising buildings are saints protecting their residents.
More than 7.2 million people living here make Hong Kong one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It is also one of the most efficient cities. Their MTR system is cheap, fast and easy to use. They have wifi practically everywhere. If you can’t find wifi, use one of the iCentre- wifi stations for free in the MTR stations. Last month I had no issues using wifi in Colombia’s airports, but as soon as I landed in the US getting connection was a major task. It will take the rest of the world, especially the US, ages to catch up on leading asian cities. But that’s a whole story to itself.
I love cities that have public transport beyond usual trains, trams or buses. I loved the cable cars in Medellín, that connect poorer areas in the hills to the central parts. Now I am a huge admirer of Hong Kong’s Ferries. There are several ferries swimming between Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and other districts. Rides are fairly cheap and take only a few minutes. Plus, the views offered are incredible. I’d recommend taking the ferry to other districts, even if you don’t necessarily have something to do there. You won’t break the bank and the views are worth it.
The ferry won’t take you everywhere. But if you are willing to combine a couple train lines you can get to the ‘Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery’. It takes about half an hour from Kowloon Harbour. There are no signs leading there, as it is not intended to be a major tourist attraction. That said, there are not a lot of tourists strolling around. There would be thousands, if more people were fond of it. Finding the way with the help of google is fairly easy and well worth it. You start a short hike up the mountain accompanied by literally thousands of smiling buddhas to your left and your right. Once you get up there you got an amazing view and beautiful temples. I didn’t count, but I guess you’ll see even more than 10.000 Buddhas upon that mountain.
As I’m writing this I’m on a China Eastern flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai and I’m really stoked to compare Shanghai’s Bund to Hong Kong’s other-worldy Harbour Skyline. And as a complete visa and passport nerd I can’t wait to get my chinese stamp. On my first trip to Hong Kong and Macau several years ago I got beautiful stamps with chinese signs and after receiving my new empty passport two weeks ago I was desperate to get it stamped as fast as humanly possible.
Disappointment doesn’t even come close to what I felt when I was handed back my passport at Hong Kong’s Immigration, with a small piece of paper, that should be my visa. Of course I asked immediately if I could get mine stamped. After a charming “No Sir, No stamps!” I moved on to the baggage claim. Gutted!
Those who never have collected anything won’t understand and will think of me as crazy, but for a lot of travelers foreign currencies, visas and stamps are a big influence that add up to the fun while travelling.
Hong Kong is truly one of world’s finest cities with such warm and friendly people. There are tons of things to explore, great food to be found in small hiding streets and amazing luxury hotels I can’t afford to stay in, but for now, gaze at in awe, all in between the valleys of high rising buildings, you never lose out of sight.
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