Although I landed in Hong Kong 4 days ago the first two nights don’t really count. On the first day I didn’t arrive until the mid-afternoon and by the time I had checked into the hotel I only had enough time to see the buildings at night and stumble upon a protest before it was time to sleep.
The next day doesn’t really count either as it involved becoming a human pin cushion again for a Hep B vaccination booster and the fun of my first of three rabies jabs. Fortunately having to get the rabies course did give me an excuse to extend my stay in Hong Kong.
So although it was Day 3 officially it was the first day of actually being able to explore and appreciate this unique city, a strange combination of British and Chinese influences. And already I have come to appreciate what an amazing city it is.
The day started early and it was already hot and humid, perfect weather for the miles of walking through the city I had planned! The first stop was Hong Kong Park, like many city parks I would come to visit in Hong Kong it contained many surprises.
Hong Kong has various parks throughout the islands and often they come with attractions you would rarely find outside a zoo or commercial operation in other countries.
For example Hong Kong Park, surrounded by high rises and shiny office buildings, is a tropical oasis in the middle of the city.
Not only does it have an artificial lake, fountains and waterfalls it also has a massive aviary, full of incredible tropical birds, and a multi-level conservatory stocked with exotic plants from around the world.
What is more incredible is that it is all open to the public and free! You simply walk in and enjoy. Having spent so much time in the USA where everything seems to come with a hidden cost this took some getting used to.
The lake has terrapins and beautiful fish, there are waterfalls all over the place and the sound of bird song fills the air. It is easy to forget you are in the middle of one of the mostly densely populated areas in the world.
After Hong Kong Park it was a short walk, and a lot of steep inclines up the side of the mountain, to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens.
Another public park this one comes complete with more aviaries, lemurs, meerkats, monkeys and more. And once again it is all completely free!
Having achieved my recommended daily allowance of cute animals I carried on walking to Possession Point, the place that the Royal Navy landed in 1841, raised the Union Flag and declared Hong Kong officially British.
Unfortunately this was the first disappointment of the day, the site itself is no longer on the coast which has been extended over time and it now sits on a street corner in a run down part of town. Not really worth the time and effort to walk there in the boiling sun!
The plan was to then head back to the hotel and get ready to head out for dinner and watch the F1 (which I have managed to keep up with despite travelling!) however my plan of avoiding any protests in Hong Kong went awry when I found police blocking every path I tried to take to get back to my hotel.
After a lot more walking than planned to get around police roadblocks I found out the cause. My hotel was in the middle of a route planned for protesters to march! And so it was I spent the afternoon watching thousands of people fighting for their right to democracy whilst stood on the steps of my hotel. It was incredible to see such passion and anger and I was fortunate enough to avoid some of the issues which occurred later.
Despite all the excitement I still managed to watch the race and then got some sleep before Day 2.
This day started with a short ferry ride from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, it takes only a few minutes and costs a whopping HK$2.70, or about £0.30.
That is not a typo!
Of course that is for the air conditioned cabin, if you find that a little too expensive you can pay HK$2.20 to sit downstairs in the open air!
Once on Kowloon a 20 minute walk took my to the Hong Kong Museum of History, once again a public attraction that is 100% free. This surprisingly detailed museum takes you through the history of Hong Kong and the surrounding area from 4,000,000 years ago to the present day – it is pretty thorough!
After a morning in the museum, and a quick stop at The ONE mall for lunch, it was off to Kowloon Park to relax in the sunshine.
Once again Hong Kong Leisure & Cultural Services Department have created an amazing public park with even more aviaries and exotic birds as well as a lake which is home to a flock of flamingos.
As well as sculptures, more waterfalls, fountains and swimming pools. It is truly breathtaking how much is provided for absolutely zero entrance fee.
Soon, though, it was time to get out of the sun, cross on the cheapest ferry I’ve ever been on, and make my way back to the hotel for an early night. Tomorrow begins early and involves even more walking up mountains than I care to think about, hopefully the photographs will be worth it!