Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hong Kong and Macau (Part 2)

I didn't mention this in my first HK/Macau post (mostly because I didn't think about it till the end of the post), but I decided to talk about my trip in installments. Sometimes my posts can go on and on. After I finish a long post, I tend to think (please imagine me breathing hard), "" because marathon posts tend to wear me out. I think this may be why I've left past blogs un-updated for so long. Hopefully writing in chunks will keep the posts a bit more fresh.

Alright, blog confessional over.

Anyway, I woke up in my hostel bed with a plan to go to the LDS temple and then make my plan from there. Of course, before I made the morning trip, I had to start out with some genuine Hong Kong breakfast:

I then headed to the subway station. The subway in Hong Kong is fairly easy to use if you're used to public transit in big cities. That said, even if you're only visiting for a few days, I'd recommend getting an Octopus Card so you can reload fare. You can get it at any information booth in a subway station, and I'd imagine that you could get one at a convenience store like 7 Eleven. I suggest this because paper fare cards can't be reloaded and are generally a pain (at least I found them to be).

Back to the reminds me of the subway in Seoul, except it there are no doors between the cars, so you can easily walk from car to car. It was pretty trippy to see the cars turn as the train rounded a corner!

After about 30 minutes, I got to my destined subway stop, Kowloon Tong. I walked a short distance and saw the temple in a neighborhood.

Please forgive an aside at this point: Mormon peeps, I totally thought this building was a bluish-white color before I saw it. It ain't. It's light brown. Thank goodness for the angel Moroni on the top, or I may have walked past it. Alright, aside over.

I noticed this couple taking pictures in front of the temple. We chatted, and it turned out that they were married. He was from Idaho, and she was from the Philippines. Awesome couple! He had been to several countries, and her first trip abroad was this trip. It turned out that the guy and I, at different points in our lives, both lived by the same family. This family, the Longhursts, moved from Ogden up to southern Idaho. World, you've been accused of this many times, but you are small.

His wife took this picture so we could send it to the Longhursts. Don't worry, I got a picture of both of them.

We joined forces, thenceforth, and started the band Two Giants and a Filipina became travel compadres. We went to a mall and found a food court. There was a McDonalds there, but I was NOT about to have Mickey Ds twice in a row on this trip, so I got some katsu udon (breaded chicken and noodles) instead. We also found THIS:

I don't know how much AC/wizardry was used to allow this ice sheet to exist, but note that it was inside.
Post-lunch, we were determined to change out of our church clothes and head to Victoria Peak, which has spectacular views of the Hong Kong skyline. By the time we left the food court it was about 3pm. I figured that if I got back to my hostel, changed, and left for Victoria Peak (only 3 subway stops away...I was in an awesome location), I could get to the top to see the city at sunset before the lights all come on.

I mean, it's a Wednesday night. How many people could there be?


You know the feeling of waiting for a ride at a theme park? You're standing and inching forward. For a long time. I waited for about an hour before getting onto the tram.

The tram is one of the few ways to get up the mountain. The other ways were by bus (I didn't know the bus system well enough to risk it) and by taxi (way expensive). It was an experience! The tram was full to capacity, and it was standing room only by the time I got on. The tram was pulled up the mountain via ground cables, and there were times that I felt like I was going to slide on the poor Asian tourists behind me. Thankfully for everyone, I kept my footing.

After a sojourn up 300 (or seven, it's all one and the same to me) escalators, I made it to the viewing platform. Though it was well into the night at this point, the view was awesome.

Jesse and Annavelyn (the couple I mentioned earlier), made it to the top a little less than an hour after I did. We enjoyed not only the view of the city, but also the reaction of the other people when the rain (oh, it was drizzling a bit, by the way) increased. The once-crowded viewing platform suddenly became deserted as people dashed back inside the building.

We eventually realized that we were hungry, and we wanted something semi-authentic. We found a noodle restaurant in the building - I think it was on the 4th (or 154th, it's all the same to me) floor - that was about to close. We started to turn away, but then they said we could come eat. Yes! Awesome! Then the host took us to our seats and said the following:

"Please order quickly. We're closing."

Alright, dude. We were actually not going to come here when the "closed" sign went up and your colleague invited us in. You just lost five customer service points.

In spite of that, the food I had, whatever it was, was good (and obviously memorable).

I learned one big lesson from this outing: Go to well-known sites early, or pre-order tickets online. That said, I'm glad I went.

And wow, was I exhausted.

Here are a few more pics from the first full day. Part 3 coming soon.

Hong Kong Island in the morning.

The calm before the Victoria Peak tram line.

E.T. phone Jackie Chan.

Pretty awesome!

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