But I soon realised I've visited Hong Kong at its prime, with Chinese New Year decorations lighting up the city with red and goats (or sheep, or rams) everywhere. The city is turning out to be wonderful with its numerous cheap bakeries, double-decker trams and the maze of the mid-levels. However three experiences so far have been the highlights of my quick stop in Hong Kong.
The Peak Tram should be one of the first stops you make in Hong Kong, but you'll have to battle with the crowds. After 9am they can get quite long. But the tram is worth the wait. Steep since the 1880s, you feel as if buildings are on a strange angle as you get pulled up. But the really beauty is all the lush greenery of the peak surrounding you as you travel up.
Going up early at about 8:30am was a great idea. Being one of the only few people on the tram going up Victoria Peak... But being up there was quite eerie. The fog was dense and you couldn't see much further than a few metres in front of you. All the tops of the skyscrapers were hidden from view. But I would go up early again to enjoy the peace of observing the beauty of the peak and the city without the hundreds of tourists.
Macau (or Macao) should be another must-do if you're visiting Hong Kong. With more gambling revenue than Vegas, it's packed full of extravagant casinos. But even if you're not a gambler, don't let casinos put you off. Macau is a former Portuguese colony with beautiful European architecture lacing the cobblestone streets. After spending two months in China, going to Macau felt like I had landed in Europe, particularly with all of the signage having Portuguese. However with the Chinese characters everywhere, you still feel the Chinese influence. It's a fascinating blend of culture.
Walking around the Largo do Senado (Senado Square), the Ruins of St. Paul and the old fortress are a great way to see how the blend of Chinese and Portuguese culture still existed back in the early formations of the colony. My favourite part of my day in Macau was just walking around the streets and seeing the Chinese-style buildings next to old Portuguese-style ones.
Truly a beautiful place to spend a day or even two. Not being a gambling fan, I didn't venture into any of the casinos, but from the outside they looked very impressive. Also like jerky? You'll love Macau as vendors try to win you over to their stalls with free samples of jerky. I probably ate a whole sheet just through the various samples. The portuguese tarts there are also plentiful in number and deliciously tasty.
3. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
After seeing The Bund in Shanghai, I felt like Hong Kong's building skyline would have to be pretty impressive to beat how much I enjoyed The Bund. But Hong Kong's is definitely a sight. The fog didn't matter as the lights permeated through the fog, screens everywhere with goats dancing around for the New Year. There's a laser show called the 'Symphony of Lights' at 8pm on the promenade. Although it's quite exciting seeing the buildings shoot lasers into the sky, the buildings themselves are the impressive part. A walk along the promenade would have been a lovely end to the evening, but with the Chinese New Year parade coming up tomorrow, the walkways are very restricted. I'm getting the sense that I'm only just seeing the beginnings of what Hong Kong feels is a good light show.
Do you have three other favourites in Hong Kong? Let me know in the comments below.
I think the city is only about to get more exciting come the Chinese New Year. Happy New Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram everyone!