Budget Backpacking in Hong Kong

Budget Backpacking in Hong Kong

We shown up in Hong Kong during a dramatic lightning shower that triggered a bit bit of turbulence in the aircraft. The dense fog and rain seemed like they would never part but then we finally dipped below the  grey storm cloud we were rewarded with amazing views of the Hong Kong skyline. We arrived on Chep Lap Kok Island, where the international airport is located, and took a bus over to Kowloon. a lot of of the method we couldn’t see any of the popular views from the windows of the bus because they were drenched in water which cascaded from the sky like a faucet. finally the rain cleared long enough to see the bright, Vegas-like lights that epitomize one’s visions of the sprawling metropolis.

Hong Kong skyline from our plane

We inspected into our small room at new Kowloon Hostel in Mirador Mansions. I guess I must clear up what “the mansions” are for those who have never been to Hong Kong. a lot of lodging is far beyond a backpacker’s budget in Hong Kong so lots of travellers and locals choose to live or lease a room inside these enormous buildings. There are two “Mansions” in the Kowloon area the Mirador Mansions, where we stayed, and the Chungking Mansions. These towering structures boast upwards of 1800 spaces each all of diverse stages of mould and decay.

Our room actually wasn’t bad. people get afraid into believing that all the spaces here are rat ridden, mould covered cesspools, but in reality there are only a few locations that let their spaces fall under such disrepair. lots of of the “Hotels” within the mansions have clean tiled rooms, with great bathrooms and a/c, but all spaces share the common cool smell that seems to emanate from the cracks in the walls and the floor. Our room at new Kowloon was decent, if oddly shaped, with a couple of narrow beds, a/c, a bathroom, and a window to the outside. but the room did have a dank smell that seemed to go away when we ditched the feet-smelling sheets and pillowcases into the hallway. After our room in Beirut we could probably be satisfied in a slum.

the smallest shower room at new Kowloon Hostel
our first room at new Kowloon Hostel

We had a good sleep and woke up in the morning to start our day. To our surprise the rain had cleared and the sun was shining! A best day to inspect out the popular skyline and maybe hike as much as Victoria height to see a city view. We packed our stuff and got ready to go out for the day, but we soon found out that our room had been booked for the night and they were not able to give us another. We shown up during labour Day holiday time in Hong Kong and it becomes extremely busy. We spent the next two hours desperately browsing the mansions for a rat-less room that we could afford. thankfully we found one that was provided in our guide-book and inspected in to Cosmic guest House. The room wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as new Kowloon, but it lacked the smell of dirty underclothing so we were happy. Cosmic also assisted us sort out our China visa which saved us a long time at the embassy. We finally got to go out and inspect out the city around 11 am, by which time some clouds had moved in and ruined our possibilities of seeing views from Victoria Peak. No problem though, there is so much to perform in Hong Kong, we just chosen up a map and set out on the town. first we headed directly for Hong Kong Island. Some people may be shocked that Hong Kong actually comprises of a small archipelago of 234 islands. We checked out four in overall so I guess you could say that we have a lot delegated see in this small autonomous state. We hopped on the ferry which cost us $2 Hong Kong Dollars on the octopus card and we set out across the wavy waters of Victoria Harbour and finally set foot on Hong Kong Island itself.

The Hong Kong Island skyline from the star Ferry boat

We headed directly for the central Mid-Levels, the longest covered escalator system in the world! You generally just hop on and start the climb up the hill, if you want to go to a particular street to do some shopping you just step off the escalator at the right road sign and carry on walking. It is actually a really amazing (and easy) method to inspect out the area.

Nick on the Mid-Levels Escalator

We got off at the Wong Tai sin temple to inspect out some standard Taoist design and culture. The temple was interesting but the aroma of 4000 sticks of incense burning ended up being a bit as well overpowering so we left the temple to go find some lunch. We made a decision to just stop at the first busy restaurant we saw, which ended up being a great bit noodle soup shop. We took pleasure in our meal with a tasty and low-cost San Miguel ($1), I guess we’re not fully out of the Philippines yet.

Ma & Pa cooking up some tasty noodles for our lunch

Next we took the train over to the “Trendy” area where all the shopping centers and high fashion shopping is. The area was actually really nice, busy but nice. There was music on the streets, and a poverty themed walkway art show that was quite moving. We also stumbled across a extremely stressful street market where they were selling everything from lobster to pigs ears. The fish section of the market was especially interesting, they had all kind of ocean critters to choose from. By this time around we were pretty exhausted, we had walked regularly for 6 hours and we were ready for a rest, so we headed back to the room for a bit.

fresh fish & shellfish to buy at the market

After a 30 minute chill out, we worn out of the cramped, white tile confines of our Cosmic room, so we headed out again. this time around to see if we could get ourselves a table at the least expensive Michelin starred restaurant in the world. any individual who understands about Gordon Ramsey, or has the Food Network at home, understands that the Michelin star is the utmost guide to international fine dining. We shown up at Tim Ho Wan only to see a line up of 20 or so potential diners. It appeared like we would be waiting on a while, but thankfully our confused faces and white skin got us (and the two other tourists that were waiting) to the front of the line. We bought on the street while we were waiting by ticking boxes that were adjacent to indecipherable chinese characters. thankfully a local lady who was also waiting in line, provided us a brief description of the dishes and we went into the restaurant confident that we made some good choices. We sat down and soon thereafter, our table was being covered with various, steaming bamboo weaved dishes.

enjoying sum dim sum

delicious pork BBQ buns at the Michelin star restaurant
Some were dumplings, some were dim sum, some were noodles and all were delicious. Being one of our first “real” chinese food dishes, we may not have been able to determine whether or not it deserved a Michelin Star, but it didn’t matter, the food was light, flavourful and delectable. We left the restaurant stuffed to the brim, we even had to leave some food on the table, and the entire meal cost less than $8 for both of us! now we can say we’ve been to a Michelin Starred restaurant, and because tipping is against the local culture, we can say that we didn’t even tip. Gordon Ramsey eat your heart out.

hilarious sign!
outside of the Michelin star restaurant

our hostel, Cosmic Guesthouse at Mirador Mansions
crystal design at one of the malls

busy intersection in Hong Kong
double decker bus at a busy intersection in Hong Kong

downtown Hong Kong
street in Hong Kong just off of the walking escalator

busy Mac store

downtown art

shopping area
Times Square

Nick figuring out the metro system
high end shopping area

veggie market on a side street in Hong Kong
fried noodles with wontons

Nick eating at the streetside noodle shop
incense burning at the Buddhist temple

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