A few months ago over dinner with a few friends, my best friend Rui told us he was going to Hong Kong this summer. Jokingly, I told him to take me with him. That joke became serious, and we booked our flights for June. It would be my first time in Asia.
The twenty-one hour flight (including a three hour layover) was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to endure. We only slept four hours the night before due to our excitement, and I only had four hours of sleep on the flight (non-consecutively) due to how uncomfortable the seats were.
I was a little skeptical about taking the MTR at first, but after getting used to it, I much prefer it over the TTC. The only thing I could never get used to were the crowds – especially on the subway and during rush hour.
We spent a lot of the first week shopping at different malls. I actually preferred the very local ones in Mong Kok as opposed to the bigger ones such as IFC.
We didn’t really do any actual touristy activities until we met up with Vivian later during our first week. That day, we went out for dim sum, visited different malls, and explored Victoria Harbour.
We spent our first weekend on a boat with Rui’s family. I haven’t read for leisure in a long time, and it was nice to be able to relax and read Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story after having it on my bookshelf for years. I saw the movie before and I didn’t like it, but I really enjoyed the book.
Afterwards, we went to a seafood restaurant nearby. I saw these beautiful lanterns laid out in front of the water. I also did a post on the places I ate in Hong Kong if you’re interested.
One night, Rui and I circled around the Times Square area for at least a half hour trying to find Genki Sushi. It ended up being literally right where we started. We called it our “scenic route” and I managed to get some nice photos.
We visited Victoria Harbour at nighttime once before, but very briefly. We came back and just sat there on the edge above the water until security asked us to move to a safer spot from behind the gate.
Everyone convinced me that Hong Kong Disneyland wasn’t that great. We decided to go anyways, and I actually had a wonderful time. It was the first time I’d been to any sort of Disney theme park and it made me feel like a little kid again.
We probably finished around 6 or so, but we wandered around and waited until 8:45 to catch the Mickey Mouse Parade and fireworks show. It was worth it.
We visited Cheung Chau Village the next day, and it fascinated me more than any other place in Hong Kong did. It was very local and the atmosphere was completely different from areas of Hong Kong I’d already explored.
We visited Lantau Island on the same day and went to see Ngong Ping Village.
We walked up to see the Big Buddha statue. The view from up there was beautiful.
We went up on the Ngong Ping 360 gondola afterwards. It was a day full of astonishing views.
The day after, we went to go see Victoria Peak. I got at least 10 mosquito bites, but it was worth it for the view.
One night, we went on the Ferris wheel in Central. The view was pretty at nighttime, but there were a lot of reflections so we couldn’t get any nice photos.
The day before I left, we went to Stanley Park. We thought it was an actual park, but it was just an area. We still had a good time.
After two weeks in Hong Kong, I came home. It felt really strange to be in a place where the predominant language wasn’t English. The extent of my Cantonese-speaking skills were knowing a few random words here and there, and locals couldn’t even understand me behind my Canadian accent. My friends have called me white-washed many times before, but never have I ever felt as white-washed as I did in Hong Kong.
Just weeks ago, I told my parents Vancouver was too boring a city for me because I’d previously contemplated settling down there one day. After being in Hong Kong, I know for sure that I never want to settle anywhere other than in Toronto. The hustle and bustle, the heat and humidity, and the culture shock of Hong Kong is too much for me.
Besides the heat and crowds, I actually did enjoy HK. Rui’s family took us to and told us where all the coolest places were, and I’m really grateful to have met them. Check out my two vlogs below to see even more of HK!