So this is it! After over 9 months of studying, travelling and exploring the wonderful city of Hong Kong, I’m finally getting ready to pack my bags and set off on a new adventure. Come next week, I begin my long 3 and a half month trek home via Asia. It’s a trip I’m hugely excited about as I’m heading to countries I’ve wanted to visit for a long, long time, but it’s also tinged with sadness as my flight to freedom is also my flight out of Hong Kong, the place I’ve called home for nearly a year.
It’s funny looking back on the first post I made when I got here (I’m also quite shocked by some of the spelling mistakes which I’m going to blame on jet lag). This was back when the Hong Kong skyline was a novelty, when the HKU MTR station was a mythical dream and I knew as much about the local currency as I did about quantum physics. It’s nice to read back and see how excited I was about Hong Kong’s vibrancy and all the adventures I was going to have. I’d be really gutted if I looked back and felt as if I hadn’t made the most of my time here, but I’ve really tried to explore every corner of this fantastic part of the world, whilst leaving a few stones unturned for future visits of course.
What with exam and monsoon season dashing my hopes for blog writing or exploration over the past month, I’ve not written a post for a while. It’s safe to say you’ve not missed too much, save for endless law essays and thunder and lightning which wouldn’t look out of place in a Scooby Doo episode. However, I have managed to get in a bit of last minute exploration before I leave.
Ding Ding! I’ve been in Hong Kong for 9 months and it was only last week that I had my first experience on a tram. For most Hong Kongers, riding the tram is just a regular part of their daily commute. For me, it was the most exciting thing since sliced bread. I had far too much fun on this thing! The trams run more or less the entire length of Hong Kong Island and cost just $2.30 (around 25p), regardless of where you get off. They’re slow and clunky but that’s the charm of them. All around you, you’ve got the chaos and fast pace of Hong Kong, and you can just watch it go by from the comfort of your sluggish tram. It’s like doing a donkey ride on a Formula 1 track. The stops are frequent, the big windows are nice and breezy and, after weeks of rain, it was great to be get out and be a tourist again.
The ‘Other’ Skyline Well, technically, it’s the same skyline. It’s just another way of looking at it. The Tsim Sha Tsui promenade is the most famous place to see the iconic Hong Kong skyline, but it’s crazy busy with hundreds of tourists, especially when the weather is good. Just a bit further down, close to Kowloon MTR station and the ICC Tower is a chance to get just a good a view but with next to nobody there. West Kowloon Cultural District is a bit of a work-in-progress, with naff Hollywood-esque lettering and a disproportionate amount of building work going on, but there’s a great patch of grass, a long path for strolling and jogging and, more importantly, a cracking view of the skyline where you’re not jostling with other sightseers. Despite the building work, it was pretty peaceful and made for a great picnic spot. A great way to get the iconic experience without the hordes of people there.
End of the Line Another ‘less travelled’ place I went to a few weeks ago was Chai Wan, the last stop on the Island Line. I’ve spent the last year hearing that ‘the train to Chai Wan is approaching’ so I wanted to check it out for myself. If you’re only in Hong Kong for a short time, you’re really not missing much, but that’s one of the joys of being here long-term. Chai Wan was chilled and laid back, with a nice peaceful park, complete with a singing contest and lake. If you’re a photographer, you can get some great shots of the trains going past and, a little walk out of the park, and you’re at a peaceful promenade which makes for a nice stroll. It’s not going to win Travel Destination of the Year but it made for a great getaway from the bustle of Central.
Beyond that, my last month in Hong Kong has involved getting very wet when the heavens have opened with no warning whatsoever, the occasional hike (not the best idea in this weather), getting all my hair shaved off in preparation for my travels (very liberating!) and wiling away hours in Tamar Park listening to music and watching the incredible Hong Kong sunsets which seem to have sprung from nowhere. It’s been a slower few weeks than the rest of my time over here, but I’ve got a hectic few months of travelling coming up so I think I’ll appreciate just relaxing and contemplating just how awesome this place is.
It’s been a true adventure, filled with great (and not-so-great) people, fantastic adventures and delicious food. I’m 100% certain I’ll be back to explore this dynamic region again but, for now, I’m just glad that, for 9 months at least, I was lucky enough to call Hong Kong my home.