Everyone thought that I was insane doing this SE Asia trip solo and staying at some random person’s house/home (via Airbnb). Thus far, I have only had a great experience!
The owner of the HK flat, Tiziana, is a kind soul who has been willing to answer all my dumb questions about the city and provide me food and entertainment. She lives in about a 900 sqft flat on Hok Fook Street in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). I never thought that I’d get a chance to live in a traditional chinese building (think HK shows) and that I’d be walking up 5 flights of stairs to reach the apartment. In these apartments, there’s typically a metal barred sliding door that protects the normal wooden door. The metal door slides only one half to the other and therefore protects the wooden door from being kicked in? I have no idea why there’s a metal door but it seems like it’ll add more protection.
Catching a quick disco nap on the queen sized bed after a 16 hr long flight, I was ready to hit the streets of Kowloon. When I was at the HKG Airport, I purchased a Travel Octopus Card with a 3 day unlimited plan that allows me to ride the MTR an unlimited amount of times and also get a round trip train back to the airport for $300HKD ($50CDN).
Day 1 – Explore Tsim Sha Tsui – Avenue of Stars – Ride the Star Ferry – Visit the Peak and the SkyWalk
Hong Kong is one of the easiest cities to navigate with only several main roads that take you N – S or E – W. Yes, there’s tonnes of alleyways and side streets, but I ditched my map (well, kept it in my purse) and started heading in the direction I wanted to go (towards Avenue of Stars). The journey turned out to be an interesting one – especially when I started going into narrow stores that deceivingly have 5 floors and one way escalators. (WTF store!) Had a mild panic attack when I couldn’t figure out.
HK Protip #1: Hong Kong naming convention of buildings follow the British standard. 1/F = 1st floor, 2/F = 2nd floor, 3/F= 3rd floor. G= ground level
– If “G” level is absent, then 1/F becomes ground level. Sometimes you’ll see UG=upper ground if G level is the street level at the bottom and UG may give you access to another street one level up.
– Cantonese contradicts this since the floor above “G” level is called “yee lau” = literal translation as ‘floor #2″
British Writing Cantonese Speaking Actual
G Yut Lau = Floor #1 Ground level floor
1/F Yee Lau = Floor #2 2nd floor
2/F Sam Lau = Floor #3 3rd floor
HK Protip #2: Star Ferry
Okay, so everyone wants to take the Star Ferry because you get to experience Victoria Harbour. It’s. Not. Worth. It. I don’t care what people on TripAdvisor say, it’s a 5 minute ride from the Kowloon side to get to HK Island side. What’s worse is that my freaking Travel Unlimited Card doesn’t apply for the GD Star Ferry and I would have to use my Octopus Card (which means, I had to pay an extra $2 HKD for this). Guys, just take the MTR line to get from Kowloon to HK Island like the rest of the locals. It’s literally a 5 minute ride and uneventful for those who have sat on a boat before. The only thing I would suggest trying to do is hopping on the Hong Kong Junk Boats which give the city an old-school feel. My Aunt said that the guys operating the boats would allow tourists to hop on for a short period of time if they are able to show their passports.
HK Protip #3: Victoria Peak & Tram
If you are as ambitious as I was, I walked from TST to the Tram. It’s doable. When I asked for directions to the Tram at the HK island pier, the attendants thought I was crazy to walk that far. It’s not that bad – probably a nice casual stroll for 20 minutes. If it’s a nice day, Victoria Peak can actually give you a gorgeous view of Hong Kong’s skyline and also the Harbour. After moseying at IFC mall and grabbing a quick bite, I headed to Victoria Peak Terminus Station. The lineup looked intimidating with at least 3 rows of people in front of me. Hating lineups, I questioned myself as to why I would want to go up another tall building to see the city from up high yet again.
The following is the pric epoint to check the Peak out (not that they only accept cash when purchasingtickets):
|Single and Return Peak Tram Tickets is also available.|
|Somewhat rushed, somewhat annoyed from the lineups, I told the guy that I wanted to just purchase the Peak tram tickets. DO NOT DO THAT. The whole point of going to the Peak is to check out the sights and only doing the Tram tickets doesn’t bring you all the way up aka you don’t see shit. HK was able to build this amazing 5 storey building catered to suck tourists’ money. Ranging from cosmetics stores, to candy store, to a Bubba Gump (wtf?!), and random electronic and clothing stores, it has most things to please the travelling Chinaman.
I had the pleasure to find out after paying $40 HKD to go up the mountain on the Tram, that it doesnt give you the opportunity to see HK from a better vantage point. Of course,the company has another booth set up just before the escalators in which I paid another $45!!! I was so upset at the attendant at the very bottom of the Tram terminus station as he should’ve told me that you cant see for shit inside after riding the Tram up. What the heck man… being the sucker that I am, I paid an additional $45 just to ride a GD escalator to go up the Skywalk. Don’t be a fool and just purchase the Tram, buy the Skywalk as well. It’s well worth it – and when you reach the roof, there are more workers to give you a audioguide along with an interactive map of what you see.