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“You Want in on This?” Travel Hong Kong


For many centuries, Hong Kong was under the control of Imperial China. However, following the First Opium War, control of the islands shifted to the United Kingdom but for a brief period in World War II when the Japanese occupied. As a colony of the UK, Hong Kong westernized and became rather democratic. In 1997, however, control of the city was returned to China. Initially, the PRC promised to give Hong Kong more democratic freedom in electing their leaders in 2017. However, earlier this year China announced it would continue to screen candidates, resulting in leaders who put China’s interests ahead of Hong Kong’s. You can read more about the Umbrella Revolution in Sean’s October article. With fortuitous timing, we visited this historic enclave two weeks before the demonstrations erupted.


Getting There and Around

              As the cheapest option, Peach was our go-to for getting to Hong Kong. On both flights, they suspended the use of the lavatories, so make sure you relieve yourself before boarding. The seats didn’t recline very far, preventing maximal relaxation, but you really can’t beat the price.

The train system, MTR, is very easy to use, especially with an Octopus Card. It is fairly well connected to all of the major attractions in the city. We only used a bus once, but that was a stroke of bad luck which I’ll lament about in due time.


Where to Stay

The airport terminal offered a decent place to rest the first night. There’s a second floor above the first terminal that seemed a little quieter than next to the MTR entryway, where we ended up.

sad statue              At the extreme end of luxury during the trip, we stayed at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. I found a deal through Asia Travel for park tickets and the hotel that was fairly affordable for Disney. They have a well-chlorinated pool and the room had several goodies I could pillage, including slippers and toothbrushes (you know you’ve lost your childhood when these are the things that excite you).

For most of our trip, we stayed at Dragon Hostel in MongKok. There were several bugs in our somewhat-claustrophobic private room, the curtains were more decorative than useful, and there wasn’t much a of a central area for travelers to meet, but the location was great, there was hot water, and they sell discount tickets which they will refund if you cannot use them (oooh, look; more foreshadowing!).


What to Do

              The first stop was Hong Kong Disneyland. It is the least visited Disney park in the world, leading to my longest wait time being around fifteen minutes. For most rides, it took longer to walk through the queue than to wait. There are also a couple unique attractions (my favorite was the Grizzly Gulch Mine Cars) and the Iron Man Experience is set to open up sometime in 2015. The food and souvenirs are at typical Disney prices, but the park itself is quite affordable. One day is more than enough to do everything you could want to, and its location near the airport makes it an easy first- or last-day trip.

buddha               I ended up seeing the Tian Tan Buddha twice. The first time, we rode the cable car up to Ngong Ping, which was beautiful. We also walked along the Wisdom Path and felt all the wiser for it. The second trip was not quite as smooth, unfortunately. We had bought discount cable car tickets at our hostel only to find upon our arrival that the cars were under scheduled maintenance for the rest of the week. We were forced to take the bus up, which was not terribly comfortable and, as it was the only means of public transportation left, took forever to get on. While waiting, a few behind our group fled in terror due to the prospect of a typhoon, to which one of us scoffed. Naturally, this meant that we were violently rained upon after reaching the peak. There were also heavy winds, which were fun but also concerning whilst near the Buddha. There is also a lovely vegetarian cafe at a nearby temple with delicious spring rolls.

Victoria Peak offers a stunning view of the city. The tram is an entertaining method of reaching the peak as it rises at a 45â—¦ angle for a good portion of the journey. The lines are pretty lengthy (granted, we went at perhaps the worst possible time–Saturday evening), though there is always the option of walking back down. My favorite part of our walk was encountering the skittish cats. Also near the Peak Tram is the escalator/“travelator” walking tour. There were several interesting-looking shops and bars along the way.

The Temple of 10,000 Buddhas was a unique place, though I could have done without the rivers of sweat. There are many unusual golden statues on the hike up. My favorite one had arms coming out of its eye sockets. There is a tower you can climb up, a vegetarian cafe, and a waterfall with many turtles.

For nightlife, the area around Victoria Peak seemed to have several bars, and close to MongKok is Portland Avenue, which had at least one bar (with karaoke!) that we found. Just try to not get pushed out by an off-duty cop like we were.


Last Minute Points

-       Most dim sum restaurants will charge you for tea. This was obnoxious to me, a non-drinker of tea.

-       You can get nearly a full refund for an Octopus card at the airport station.

-       Alcohol consumption laws are similar to those in Japan. You are “of course” allowed to imbibe whilst walking in public, according to a local.


group picture by Erin DianeHong Kong is a fascinating city. I would highly recommend a visit. Hopefully the city is able to come to a peaceful resolution with China concerning its elections and remain the vibrant tourist attraction that it is.


Brittany Teodorski


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