I recently had a layover in HK on the way to San Francisco. My incoming flight landed 1 hr late- so we had 12 hrs arrival-departure. Luckily immigration was quick, and by 13.15, we hopped into a cab.
The first view of the landscape is 2 minutes after exiting your plane.
Unfortunately, smog is very much part of the HK experience...
Next, you proceed to the People Mover and cross immigration- which is pretty efficient. You are now in the arrival hall.
Now, cross customs and you're ready to explore. Take one of these red cabs if you're going to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island- the main areas.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is located on Lantau, one of the biggest yet sparsely populated island of HK. N, however, lots of new developments are coming up, be it the Disneyland or big apartment projects like these.
I seem to remember this bridge clearly from previous trips...
As you move on, the skyline appears. Isn't this just wonderful (OK, if you take away the smog).
Whooo ~~ those apartment buildings!! They're so big, so tall, so close together. I guess I could try to count, but any idea how many stories? Since you say Lantau is the most sparsely populated area of Hong Kong, I suppose the massive buildings are meant to ease population crunch on the other islands. ~?~
And moving right along with big, tall, & close together, that's quite a skyline.
Looking forward to seeing what you all did and saw on your layover.
More than easing the population crunch, I'd say these are being built for good investment prospects. Lots of open land, and of course there's demand for housing, mean that these are now the only areas to build in. Because I think most of these projects are private.
Like much of China- or rather urban East Asia- HK is densely populated. So you will see tall residential towers everywhere.
We had now reached our first stop- the International Financial Centre- the main building is among the city's tallest. There is no observatory deck- but there are some restaurants there- which we didn't go to. Rather, we went to the mall there. It's one of HK's most famous and posh ones.
View from IFC Mall:
Another reason for getting off here was its location. Smack in the heart of HK Island's Central district, this was in close proximity to many areas nearby as you'll see further in this post- Mid-Levels, Statue Sq- and also nearby are piers for ferries to Kowloon- another of HK's popular areas across the bay, and Macau, another Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
The elevated walkway to cross the busy street in front offers great views.
We were now walking towards the residential district of Mid-Levels. Located on the hilly part of HK, slightly south of Central, this area is home to types of construction that will be illegal back home.
Just see how thin that building is!
It is home to the Mid-Levels escalator- connecting Central and Mid Levels. Built to try to reduce traffic congestion, it offers good views of the density of the area- and how the area changes to something distinctly local behind the main streets with its skyscrapers, McDonalds and Starbucks.
Mid Levels is home to a very famous temple, known as Man Mo Temple- known for its amazing array of coils. It's so much that you will need a hanky- unless you'd like to come out coughing continuously.
After visiting the temple, we decided to take a tram and get to the area around Statue Sq- near the IFC. Below, left is the tram.
It's a cheap ride- one ride- even as far as across the island- will set you back only HK$2.5- about USD0.30 or so. And if you get the upstairs window seat- you'll enjoy great views. We were lucky to snag them just before anyone else.
It was a short ride till Statue Sq. This square is in a busy location- almost next door are important institutions such as the Bank of China Tower, HSBC- as well as the terminus for the tram to Victoria Peak and a tourist attraction: St John's Cathedral. Statue Sq:
WOW, Ansh ~~ this latest addition to your report has finally made me understand why people want to visit Hong Kong. You really do a super job of taking us from the dazzling modernity and stunning high-rises to a whole other world of humanity and tradition.
So much to take in -- the mid-level escalator is fascinating. Are there similar ones in other parts of the city?
You got some wonderful photos -- so many angles, heights, details.
The Mid-Levels Escalator is the only of its kind in HK I know of- and hence is very unique. It was built to transport residents from Mid Levels to workplaces in Central, and back later. In the morning it runs towards Central, and afterwards back.
Sorry- no idea what the catherdal's roof is made of.
To continue, now. Here is the exterior of St John's Cathedral.
And here's a closer look at HK's double-decker buses.
Now, it was 4pm- 8 and a half hours from our next flight's departure, we took a cab and headed for Times Sq Mall in the bustling area of Causeway Bay. Both times when I've actually stayed in HK, my hotel was in this area- so I've come to like it- commerce and business everywhere and always buzzing.
However, we got stuck in a traffic jam on the way.
Times Sq Mall was bloody crowded- after all it was a Saturday evening. Take a look at the escalator.
And here's the interior. It's very much a usual mall. Good place for shopping and lots of restaurants. Ideal location, too, because of many surrounding hotels and thoroughfares.
The mall is in a tall building but the crowd thins out- there seem to be only restaurants up (on levels 10 or so +) but the views are good. Good way to feel the densely packed area around. Pardon the reflection, please.
I have always been a bit overwhelmed by the crowds of Hong Kong, especially during the business day. Nevertheless, since Paris is quite crowded and busy also in certain areas, I am able to deal with it.
One thing that I was not ready for was Sunday and the amah picnics totally covering the Star Ferry pier area in Victoria, every scrap of grass and also the walkways leading towards the Macau ferry. I found the situation simultaneously pleasant and horrible. All of these Filipina maid are obviously pleased to all be sitting together in groups and sharing their local dishes, but the idea that they can do this just one afternoon a week and that it seems to be their one and only leisure activity is distressing.
Ansh-the photos are amazing!!! HK has always been on my list of places to go, especially after my visit to Shanghai & Beijing (and now also because I wouldn't need a visa for HK, compared to the mainland) This report and your photos make me want to move it up on my bucket list again. However my Cowboy would not be able to deal with the masses and the smog...... so I have to be patient
Thanks. The only time I've seen Paris similarly crowded was in mid-August- when 3/4th of the base of the Eiffel Tower was covered with people choc-a-block. Despite the smog, it didn't seem to affect in any health-related way. It just reduced visibility.
Cheers bjd- but HK being a territory rather than a city, it's just as easy to find quiet areas. On my last trips, I was in some of them- but don't have any pictures and few memories. But the actual urban areas of HK Island form only a small % of HK's total area.
I'll just post some from my last trip: Here is the view from my hotel:
And here's the view from the other hotel: this one in Disneyland on Lantau.
And here's the Big Buddha...in a monastery in Lantau. You can also reach here by cable car- which was closed when we went there (earlier trip), but was running now.
From there, a view of a quieter HK...
Then we went to Macau. Macau is another Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China and thus is in a separate immigration control. Also known as Las Vegas of the east, it's main claim to fame is gambling but it's also good for its Portuguese colonial architecture. Why not try some Portuguese egg tarts? In the foreground, you can see the colonial area- the rest of the city looms behind.
Fabulous photos Ansh! I never got to see the lazer-light Show as I don't think it was invented when we were there. The buildings used to light up with millions of 'globes'? and form characters on the side of the buildings. We were there two years before the change over back to China.
That restaurant you tried looks marvellous..ly expensive!