Yes, that’s me!! To some members of my family I am known as Hong Kong Junie (usually shortened to Hong Kong), not because of my love of the place but ever since I decided to enthral my niece and nephew with my martial arts moves a la Hong Kong Phooey, the cartoon crime fighter…you know the one…
…Hong Kong Phooey, number one super guy (well ‘gal in my case). Hong Kong Phooey, quicker than the human eye…
Anyhow, enough of that and on with my adventure, where I finally got to visit…yes you’ve guessed it…Hong Kong!
Each year we usually have a holiday in early December so we can be back for the pre Christmas festivities including, of course, the annual Pantomime with the Grandkids…I Love it!…Oh yes I do! oh come on! surely I’m not the only adult who shouts ‘Hiya Hinny’ to panto Dame Rita louder than all the kids at the Theatre Royal, am I? ha ha!
This year we booked a cruise and stay holiday. This was 2 nights pre cruise in Hong Kong; 10 nights on the Azamara Quest taking in the delights of Vietnam followed by a 2 night post cruise stay in Singapore, packaged up by http://www.iglucruise.co.uk.
Usually our December holidays see us having to fly from Manchester or Heathrow to reach exciting destinations promising sunshine at this time of year. Not this time though, as you can fly to Hong Kong from Newcastle via Dubai with Emirates. This was the first time we’d flown with Emirates and it definitely won’t be the last.
It’s fair to say it’s probably one of the best flights we’ve ever taken, for comfort, food, service and entertainment. The aeroplane itself was brand new, having only flown 40 hours up to that point as the pilot proudly announced. Now, I don’t know about you, but the Hubby and I could not decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing??!!!…we didn’t mull over it for too long however, as the fantastic in flight entertainment system soon had us racking up loads of entertainment for the first part of our journey to Dubai 7hrs 05mins (how fantastic to be able to create your own playlists from tonnes of music and save films to watch at your convenience) however, it soon dawned on me that I’d got a bit carried away and had probably saved enough stuff to listen to/watch whist flying around the world TWICE!!
So, two flights later and we landed in Hong Kong and following a short journey arrived at the Harbour Grande Kowloon.
And as it was near Christmas the hotel was decorated beautifully to my delight!
We arrived a bit journey weary in the dark of early evening. Wanting to maximise our sightseeing time, we left the cases in the room and headed to concierge to ask the best way to get to Victoria Peak, a recommended viewing point to see Victoria Harbour by day or night. Not having the energy to either walk/taxi/take shuttle bus to the ferry terminal then take a short trip across the harbour, followed by a bus ride and then funicular up to the peak, we opted for a return taxi from the hotel which was surprising reasonable. Five minutes later we were on our way to Victoria Peak, with the colourful sights of Hong Kong from the taxi window keeping my sleepy eyes firmly open.
Wow! I’m so glad we took that recommendation. The views are fantastic and there are plenty of great vantage points. There is no admission fee to this area however, there are viewing platforms that you can pay to use above the restaurant and shopping complex. Personally, we didn’t feel the need.
To round off our first night we ate in a small pub/café not far from the hotel, the name of which escapes me. Simply furnished, with a limited menu, great spot on the waters edge and just a handful of locals, chilled music and the sound of the water lapping beside our table, it was just what two weary travellers needed.
It’s fair to say that if you’re only visiting Hong Kong for a day or two on a pre cruise stay, Kowloon is an ideal base as there’s lots to see in a condensed area and all easily reached by foot (as we did) or bus/taxi. So for the next day and a half we managed to take in a lot of the popular sights and these included:
Temple Street Night market; Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market; The Jade Market; ChungKing Mansions.
All of these places are worth a visit but it’s fair to say they are very busy with so much to take in, so it’s best to go along with the flow and enjoy the experience, which is probably why I didn’t get a single photograph! Be prepared to indulge all your senses in these colourful local markets.
From the hotel there was a pleasant walk along the Hung Hom Promenade to the popular Tsim Sha Tsui area.
There’s plenty of interest along the way including the Hong Kong Museum of Art where people (including Ron) were enjoying a rest on the grass ‘Day Beds’ and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre where we were lucky enough to see Graduation celebrations taking place.
We visited Harbour City – the largest and most diverse shopping mall in Hong Kong. We loved this mall even though we weren’t shopping. The atmosphere was welcoming and unhurried, not like the dodgem’s we have in some of our shopping centres and it was so clean…my goodness, I couldn’t see a speck on the glazed white floor and couldn’t imagine the need for the 5 second rule here! It’s worth a walk around just to admire the beautiful shop window displays. Yes, this place feels really special, even entering the mall was a ‘red carpet’ experience.
We enjoyed a stroll through Kowloon Gardens, a lovely park in the middle of the high rises which included the ‘Avenue of Comic Stars’ featuring a variety of statues of local comic characters.
A great recommendation by our driver from the airport was the Whampoa Gourmet Place, offering an array of dining choices including Little Tea Wood, the place we tried. I had the most delicious fruit tea ever, and was so taken by the candle warmed Tea Pot and stand that I’m still trying to source one!
A popular attraction is ‘The Symphony of Lights’ extravaganza. As the name suggests, it’s a light and sound show accompanied by narrative telling Hong Kong’s history and culture. This is a free show offered by the city and takes place every night. It lasts about 15 minutes and features around 40 buildings displaying lights and beams in time to the music and can be seen from numerous points around the harbour. One of the best being from a Cruise Ship, but more of that in Part 2.
As a lover of all things Christmas, I was blown away by some of the extravagant decorations both inside and outside the buildings and hotels…here’s a couple of my favourites:
Well, that’s the end of Part 1 of the adventure, I hope you enjoyed it and will join me for part 2 where we sail off to Vietnam. I’ll leave you for now with one last photo taken from the roof top pool area of our hotel overlooking Victoria Harbour…what a place to spend your last morning.
Bye for now. June xx
Labels: june, traveljems, blog, travel, Hong Kong, Asia, Cruise, holiday, emirates