We arrived to Hong Kong at 8:30 a.m. on Easter Monday.
I knew absolutely nothing about Hong Kong, such as the fact that they celebrate Easter Monday,* but the eerily silent streets and closed shops tipped us off that something was amiss on a Monday morning.
*when we inquired at the hotel, the bellman said, “It’s Easter Monday, holiday, of course!”
Once the group was given scavenge booklets, we all scattered. When Mark and I sat down with our map and list of scavenges, I was so confused I wanted to dive into the bowl of my sweet and spicy wontons and never come out. (PS. THESE WERE THE MOST AMAZING WONTONS OF MY LIFE.)
First of all, Hong Kong is comprised of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. There are 57 million people who live there, and they have more skyscrapers than New York City (314 vs. 241). To navigate the city, there are busses, trams, ferries, metro (MTR), escalators, and furniculars, and Lord knows what else. The challenges ranged from every part of the city, to outside of the city, to the islands, even to Shenzhen, in China (a “bonus” scavenge). It was disorienting to say the least.
The hardest part for us was knowing where to start. For example, here’s a challenge:
“Have your fortune told at Wong Tai Sin Temple and explain the legend of the temple.”
How does one find this temple in the first place? Or know where the “Night Market” is in order to catch three acts there? None of the maps even have street legends for when we did have an address. This was our challenge x 52.
Our first ray of hope came from an information center, where we met Agnes. She gave us better maps; she pointed out how to catch ferries to different islands (including Hong Kong island); she showed us where they fire guns at noon and where to take a British tram. She also advised us not to go to Macao on Monday because it was a holiday and the island would be packed—getting a ferry back would be difficult. “Plus—this is very expensive to get here. It will take a long time. You are better to go here,” and she explained how we could visit other islands, like Lantau and Lamma instead.
The lure of Macao was that it involved bungy jumping. I know my mom wouldn’t not have been thrilled, but I was ready to jump at the chance (ha). We decided against it, however, based on Agnes’s recommendations, and it turned out to be for the best. The bungy jump cost $500 USD and I would have made it all the way to the island, fighting crowds, just to do this, and then swallowed my own heart and choked at the price. Agnes saved me from a vile death.
Scenes from Lantau Island
I will suffice it to say: our first day in Hong Kong was…rough. Even though we didn’t go to Macao, we went to Lantau and it was equally packed. In our effort to return to the pier, we waited 45 minutes in a taxi line that never moved because no taxis came—and when locals called the taxi number, no one answered. We had stood there because the line for the bus was a half a mile long, which we then had to move to, and wait another 40 minutes to catch a different bus. We didn’t do half of the challenges we’d planned to, and we ended the day searching for a restaurant that turned out to be a Michelin star restaurant; the Peking Duck we were required to order cost $70—and we were unprepared for that—so I finished the day feeling frustrated and angry.
Thankfully, day two was much better. Thanks to all of the lessons we learned on the previous day, and for all of the help we got along the way (those are the Hong Kong heroes, btw), we got a lot accomplished and took time to stop and smell the roses (figuratively and literally). I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
Garden of the Stars, and showing Bruce Lee what’s up.
Non-street street art
(Not photographed (but on video!): Mark and I eat 1,000 year old egg. It was black and gelatinous. I’m surprised we both kept it down.) <–Shout out to Virginia, whose Signature Free Central Walking tour we accidentally interrupted in our quest to find a dai pai dong, who helped us complete the egg challenge also.
Traditional breakfast (bottom left), noon tea (top left), and Hong Kong Park juxtaposition.
“Funicular” to the top of The Peak view of city
Flower Market, Bird Market, and Fish Market in Kowloon
“Dinner” (i.e., ice cream for me) at Qi Nine Dragons
I’m not going to lie: my happiest moment of the day might have been eating ice cream for the first time in months (“spicy chocolate”) while overlooking the city.
The ice cream alone would have done it…but the two together….
And that was our first leg of Hong Kong. Next up: finish this phrase–
“Good Morning, __________!”
PS. Congrats to Deirdre, Barbara, and Amy. You have postcards coming your way!
(Just as a reminder: if you’re enjoying our travels, please visit our website and help us spread some kindness in the world! We’re raising money to donate to orphans, clean water, and refugees. $10 or whatever you feel comfortable giving! Thank you!)