Hong Kong wasn't like I imagined it, it was better! Between Europe and China, it gathers the best of each. Coming to HK from the Middle East and Europe feels like stepping into the future. The kind of highly developed future you imagine. But HK is far from being a cold and strict city.
Hong-Kong : hyperactive and young
Behind the unique skyscraper and banks HQs, you find delicious places to eat, lots of historical elements and beautiful pieces of nature. I honestly did not expect HK to have so much greenery and nature available. I went hiking two days in a row and my local friend told me that most people always do activities in the nature, such as hiking or surfing...when they are not traveling to another nearby island! I learnt that HK is a hyperactive city to live in and not for the faint of heart, or you will quickly burnout. I loved the mix of ethnicities, all gathered in one place; people having all the craziest hobbies, with unique backgrounds. There is always something to do and new people to meet!
The best way to navigate in Hong-Kong is surely the MTR (or metro), including your transfer from/to the airport. I was truly impressed by how modern and easy their transportation system was. Europe seemed so outdated when I came back... Everything about HK screams modernity and future. Yet, I loved the fact that you can get bits of culture around. It is truly like getting the best of two worlds. The futuristic buildings (like the HSBC headquarters) are surrounded by peaceful gardens and square (Statue Square) . The cheapest cruise is the world is also in Honk Kong, quite paradoxal, knowing how expensive the city is! Juste take to the Star Ferry between Honk Kong island and Kowloon, and enjoy the view (highly recommended by night!)
As a Political Science graduate, I have to say that I have never been fond of colonialism, but I couldn't keep wondering if HK would have known that development and energy if it was not for the British presence... Food for thoughts I guess!
Hiking in Hong-Kong
Hiking in Hong-Kong? I surely did not expected doing that but I can now say that you can do amazing hikes there. Despite the skyscrapers and modern look of Hong-Kong, there is a lot of nature, parks and raw beaches to discover. Hiking trails are not too long but quite intense (especially with the heat).
I actually went hiking on my first day with my friend Amy (who knows the trails by heart!), walking the Dragon's Back trail and we ended at the beach, enjoying some coconut water. The next day, we went to the Lion Rock park and enjoyed an amazing view of Hong-Kong building surrounded by its nature and gorgeous trees.
Po Lin Monastery & the Tian Tan Buddha
The Po Lin Monastery is home to the Tian Tan Buddha, also known as "Big Buddha". This impressive statue made in bronze, is 34 meters high. This is the second largest Buddha in the world and one of HK top attraction. Located in Lantau island, you access it by taking a cable car (Ngong Ping 360), bus or taxi. I took the cable car (directly from the metro station Tung Chung - orange line) because it was the best way to enjoy the panorama (and it reminded me of the Zhangjiajie cable car).
This is a truly amazing place, full of serenity (once you get passed the touristic shops and restaurants though...).
Exquisite Food, Drinks with a view and Party with Style
My trip was a great culinary discovery. I enjoyed every single meal I had, food was incredible! Dinner at Ho Lee Fook was a tasteful and delicious experience, especially the roast wagyu that was melted like butter. For Dumplings, I went back to my dear Din Tai Fung, a place that I discovered in China last year. I absolutely love that restaurant and wish it was available in Europe too (they have branches across all Asia, Australia and the USA!). Try the black truffles dumplings, they are incredible.
I also was lucky to go on my first night to the China Club, where my friend Amy is a member. This retro-chic restaurant and club serves traditional Hong-Kong and Chinese food. The Peking duck was to die for! I loved this place, not only because of the food, but also the interior design, typical of the 1930s Shanghai, decorated with numerous pieces of arts and paintings.
Don't leave Hong-Kong before having some Dim Sum for brunch or lunch, a southern Chinese specialty. One of the greatest place is the Luk Yu Tea House, a gorgeous 1930s tea house.
And if you get tired of Chinese food, head to BÊP Vietnamese Kitchen. People queue outside for a chance to taste the great vietnamese food.
On sunset or by night, have a drink at Sevva, one the trendiest rooftop in town. The Armani/Privé rooftop bar is also a great place. Head to Hollywood Road (no joke) to find many other greats bars, but if you want to party in style, the stunning nightclub dragon-I will not disappoint you!
Macau: boring and disappointing
Oh Macau, why were you so disappointing? Macau is a former Portuguese colony, which gave me high expectation in architecture because I kept a very good memory of another Portuguese colony I visited earlier this year : Galle (Sri Lanka). Macau is nowadays a gambling paradise, filled with casinos and probably has one of the ugliest urban landscape I have seen. Absolutely no charm, except for 2 or 3 site. I ended up going back to HK much earlier. If you don't attend to play with your money in a casino, I recommend you don't waste time and skip Macau.