Well, the longest summer break of our adult lives has begun. Earlier this week, we started it with a quick trip to Hong Kong, another destination that aroused my curiosity. It was what I had expected, but also full of pleasant surprises.
Here are a few things I really liked about Hong Kong:
1. While we were there, the weather was beautiful with clear blue skies. We really lucked out as so many people we know complained about the smog there and being unable to get a view.
2. The public transportation system, while not as cheap as the one in Taiwan, was still easy to access and easy to use. The system uses a card called the Octopus Card, which can be used to pay for fares for trains, buses, trams, and ferries, as well as retail shops, grocery stores, movie theaters, and parking. Kids under a certain age are charged half price. Best part of all: before we left Hong Kong, we were able to return our cards and get refunds of the money we put on them, minus a nominal processing fee.
3. The diversity in Hong Kong surprised me. There were people from all over the world, and we heard more languages being spoken than we have in a long time.
4. The mountains and waters, the green space, and hiking trails available.
5. The magnificent Hong Kong skyline.
6. The variety of things to do in Hong Kong: there is a little of something for everyone, with prices ranging from the extremely pricey and sophisticated to the very cheap and even free.
7. For a city so crowded, it is surprisingly clean and not as noisy as I would've expected. The traffic was orderly and the people didn't shove and push as much as those in Taiwan!
8. Hong Kong is truly a place where the east meets the west -- in between the skyscrapers are little alleyways with markets of stalls selling food, clothing, watches, shoes, and handbags; and nestled among the traditional Chinese medicine shops, restaurants, and Chinese schools are churches, jockey clubs, and cricket clubs.
What I didn't like about Hong Kong:
1. It is extremely crowded with people and skyscrapers everywhere, and felt claustrophobic to me.
2. The city reminded me a lot of New York City with its fast-paced lifestyle; everyone seemed to be rushing all the time.
3. It is a very expensive place to visit, especially the hotel and food costs.
Having seen the city now, we know it's definitely not a place where we would want to live. Still, we had a fun time and took advantage of the outdoors and the beautiful weather while there. This trip also was tinged with some sadness for me as it was the last trip out of Thailand for us before we return to the U.S.