It was immediately evident when we arrived in Hong Kong that it is very different from Southeast Asia. The Airport Express train was located incredibly close to the baggage carousels and sped us into the city in about a half hour. Taking the metro around the city was quite easy and the streets felt open and peaceful relative to some of the other cities we recently visited.
Surrounded by green mountains, the dense city is quite built up but still has plenty of expertly landscaped parks and some beautiful temples. On our first full day we visited the Chi Lin Nunnery, which also had a variety of small rare tree species on display.
Next we wandered over to Kowloon Walled City Park. There are very few remains of the old complex and it’s difficult to imagine that the world’s most densely populated area once existed on what is now a peaceful park full of gardens, elegant pavilions, and water features.
The next morning we took the old tram up to Victoria Peak. It was cloudy and hazy throughout our time in Hong Kong, but we still appreciated the view of the city below. In the afternoon we visited the Hong Kong Space Museum – it’s quite small but admission only costs about $2 CAD and they had some very well designed exhibits to explain natural phenomena such as the Coriolis effect, aurora borealis, and the phases of the moon.
We were lucky to stay with Wendy’s sister’s friend Danya who is currently teaching in Hong Kong. She did a fantastic job showing us around the city and bringing us to amazing restaurants, filling us to the brim with dumplings.
The most interesting experience was wandering up to the 8th floor of a random apartment building in Lan Kwai Fong (LKF, the clubbing district) to try Nepalese dumplings called momos – incredibly tasty. We ate at one location of Din Tai Fung, our very first Michelin star restaurant. Famous for its Taiwanese soup dumplings, the restaurant has become a large chain and they now have several locations on the West Coast of the US. We also tried Filipino fried chicken from the Jollibee chain… it seems each Asian country has its own take on deep fried poultry.
On our last day in Hong Kong we caught a bus to the southeast end of the island to hike the Dragon’s Back trail. The route runs along the rim of a chain of hills and provides excellent views of the bays to either side.
As we descended back into the city after our hike, we passed through a Hong Kong cemetery built right into the hillside, another example of the city’s efficient use of its limited space.