It was weird getting off a plane in a foreign country half way around the world and feeling like I knew exactly what I was doing. Last year when I landed in Hong Kong I was a deer in headlights. This year I had an idea of what to expect from the airport, and I knew where to get the bus that would take me to my hostel. I’m staying at the same hostel, Yesinn, in Causeway Bay. It worked out well last time and I liked the vibe from the other people staying there so I decided to go back.
I didn’t have a lot planned for my time in Hong Kong, last year when I started my trip there toured most of the sites, so there were only a few things I wanted to see. The main thing I wanted to do in HK was get adjusted to the time change.
Last time I didn’t have a chance to make it over to Macau, so it was something I really wanted to do. I landed in Hong Kong Thursday evening, and when I woke up Friday morning I decided Macau would be my first stop. Just as I was leaving my hostel I grabbed my passport, I wasn’t sure at the time if I’d need it, but as it turns out you do, so I’m glad I did. I took the ferry over to Macau. It’s about an hour and a pretty comfortable ride.
Macau is known for it’s casinos. I’m not much of a gambler, but I wanted to walk around the casinos as well as make my way to the Historic Centre of Macau, where you can still see the Portuguese influence and architecture.
Upon docking in Macau and clearing customs there are dozen of casino shuttles ready to pick you up and take you to their casino. I saw a few names I recognized (MGM, Wynn) but a shuttle for the Casino Lisboa was there and ready to go so I hoped into it. Little did I know the Casino Lisboa is one of the oldest, and most beautiful in all of Macau. The building resembled a lotus flower. Inside the casino looked and felt like any other casino I’ve been in (albeit I haven’t been in too many) but the architecture from the outside really was amazing. I had planned on gambling about $50HKD, more as a formality, but that would wait. I was first off to find old Macau and make my way to the Ruins of St. Paul.
A concierge at one of the hotels was nice enough to give me a map, but I still managed to get lost. I ended up wandering around in circles for about an hour before I found old Macau. On the way I came across a bakery selling egg tarts. I’ve had them before, but never warm. These were fresh out of the over and really good.
Historic Centre of Macau
You’ll know you’re there, not only by the pastel colours and European styling, but also the number of tourists taking photos. I wandered through old Macau to the Ruins of St. Paul. I wouldn’t call them awe inspiring, but they were nice to see. I walked around the ruins and then moved onto Fortaleza do Monte (Mount Fortress). It’s the former military centre of Portuguese Macau. It was on the top of the hill and offered a panoramic view of Macau.
After walking through the Historic Centre of Macau I began working my way back to the casinos to catch a shuttle back to the dock. I wanted to see the Wynn and MGM up close so I headed in that direction. The MGM appears to be 3 different coloured rectangular blocks stacked on each other, and also features some impressive statues. I decided they would be my target. With $50HKD in hand I headed to the video roulette. I thought the minimum bet was $5HKD, but as it turns out it was $30HKD, and I lost it betting on black. I wasn’t off to a good start. I decided to move onto a slot machine (in part because I didn’t have enough gambling funds left for the minimum bet). I mindlessly clicked away at a slot machine until bells rang and I was back to my $50HKD starting point. I figured I’d go back to roulette and keep going until I was either up $50HKD, or had lost it all. In the end I got lucky with a 17 and I finished up about $77HKD. I really showed them whose boss.
After my gambling high I hoped back on the shuttle and was headed back to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is full of all sorts of markets. Last time I made it to a number of them but missed the night market. I don’t have a lot to say about it, it’s full of a lot of counterfeit goods, like many of the markets. I did have a very disappointing chicken and vegetable dinner. It was swimming in salt.
On my second day in Hong Kong I really wanted to make it to the other side of the island. There was a bus that started literally right outside the door of my hostel and went there. The Stanley area has more of a resort feel. They really show off the water and have lots of greenery. At the market there were a number of artists selling cantonese calligraphy on different products. It had a much more upscale feel than the other markets. I wandered through the markets and then along the pier. There were a dozen restaurant that overlooked the water. I’m glad I made it out to see this park of Hong Kong.
On my way to Stanley I went right past Repulse Bay, it’s allegedly the most popular beach in Hong Kong, though it wasn’t very busy when I was there. One thing that surprised me was the lack of food and drink available in the area. Some sort of building in being constructed between the road and the beach, but I figured there would be all sorts of food options. I spent an hour or so lounging around on the beach and taking in the view, it was a good way to spend the afternoon.
Prior to my departure for Hong Kong I had heard about the protests. It was my understanding that they were civilized and not a problem. One of the protests was taking place just down the road from my hostel. My first night I was walking around the area and I saw a number of tents. There were some people milling about so I assumed it was a market. When I got closer I realized it was the protest. I couldn’t read most of the signs, but everything was pretty calm. There were police close by, but there didn’t seem to be any concern.
I didn’t plan to start running right away when I got to Hong Kong, but I woke up early that first morning and couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I decided to go for a short jog. Last time I was in Hong Kong I jogged in Victoria Park, so I decided to head that way again. The route from my hostel was pretty straight forward and I managed to remember it. Early in the morning the park is filled with people doing Tai Chi, dance classes, meditating, and other activities. There’s a red path in the middle of the park for joggers only that stretches 650m. I did a very lazy laps in the park that morning, taking in the sights and the fact that I was in Hong Kong.
The next two mornings I also ran in Victoria Park. These mornings I did a lap of the park and then did a few sprints across the soccer fields they had there.
I didn’t head to the peak at all during this trip, but I remember last time there being a few runners up there. Also, when I was in Stanley I saw a number of runners and cyclists. The roads are very hilly, so there aren’t too many easy runs to be had in this area.
HERE is one of my Garmin files from Hong Kong.
I wasn’t taken by any of the food in Hong Kong. On a budget I didn’t have plans to eat at any of Hong Kong’s finer restaurants so I ate quite a bit at the market. With that said, there was a small pastry shop near my hostel that had very good coconut tarts and pineapple buns.
Hong Kong was a great chance for me to get back into a travellers mindset without being too different from home. From here I fly into Chiang Mai, that’s where the real adventure will begin!