04.10.2016 - 07.10.2016 33 °C
I had to catch the airport express train from the Airport to Kowloon, then catch a shuttle bus to my hotel. I was quite worried about doing it, particularly with my big and now very heavy bag, but it was a relative breeze. Hong Kong Airport had information 'directors' placed everywhere, and they were really helpful. The train ran every few minutes and there was plenty of room for my luggage (unlike the train in Italy). The shuttle bus took me right to the door of my hotel, so that worked out really well.
The Hotel (Eaton) was huge, and I had to request a room change (a first for me). The first room I was allocated had a strong cigarette smoke smell, and without any opening windows I just couldn't bear it. I was given a new room without any problems, so I really do have to give the hotel credit for that.
They had a really helpful lady on their tour information desk - and from the choices she gave me I picked a half day Lantau Island tour for HK$680. It was great - I loved the 5 hours or so we spent travelling to and exploring Lantau Island - it was really interesting and different, I loved the Buddhist influence there. I got to ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car - it takes 25 minutes to travel the 5.7 kilometres to Ngong Ping Village - it's quite a ride and you get amazing views of Tung Chung Bay and Hong Kong Island's skyscrapers.
I got up close to the Tian Tan Buddha (The Big Buddha) - which was great as it was something I had on my wish list of things I wanted to see. The buddha was completed in 1993 and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith.
I saw the Po Lin Buddhist Monastery, it was a beautiful example of Chinese architecture, with heaps of colourful Buddhist elements. It's a very sacred place to the Hong Kong people, so no photos were allowed inside. In the piazza in front of the Monastery there was a lot of incense being burned and some very content cows roaming around freely grazing on anything they could find (including trash from the rubbish bins!).
As we drove from Ngong Ping to the Tai O Village we passed (and had to stop for) many more free roaming cows. There were very few cars on the road on Lantau Island, our local guide explained that the government is working on keeping the island a 'rural' area - and in keeping with that principal, you have to have a special licence to be able to drive on the Lantau Island roads. It's very difficult to get one - I believe they are usually only given out to local residents and tour companies.
The fishing village we visited was Tai O (meaning Big Bay). It was a traditional fishing village and hosted a fish market (which stank can I say!). The living conditions in the village looked to be very basic, the stilt houses seemed to be only just holding up, and they all had drying racks under them where the fish were processed for market. Some of the houses were in unlivable condition due to damage caused in previous typhoons. The village was a little like Venice in that the only access to the houses was by boat. I've never seen anything like this village before, so it was certainly an experience for me.
I caught the subway a few times in Hong Kong - a very different deal to Singapore. Hong Kong subways are very crowded, it's standing room only, and you have to push your way in to fit onto the train - not something I found comfortable doing at all, but it was either do that or be left standing on the platform like a ninny....
I found the Ladies Market - the hawkers there are fierce - I had them chasing after me abusing me when I said no to buying something from their stall... it didn't worry me too much - I was feeling pretty street wise by this time. Hong Kong is definitely a great place to shop, with an abundance of electronic stores - they are very big on technology there I noticed.
One of my purchases in Hong Kong was a sun umbrella - I found it dual purpose, not only did it protect me from the suns UV rays, but it caught the drips from all the air conditioning units that had been plopping water (or something that seemed watery???) on my head as I was walking along the street - awesome!