As a Canadian expat living in Hong Kong, there are many everyday things here that drive me absolutely mad. Take, for example, how it is socially acceptable here to violently suck back your boogers into your throat and then spew them out on the side of a crowded street. Or, perhaps, how most of the population is incapable of walking down a street at an appropriate speed or in a straight line; I swear some people have eyes on the back of their head and will purposely move right in front of me when I am trying to pass them..
It’s that time of the year again – Mid-Autumn Festival is on September 19th 2013 this year (also known as the Moon Festival as the moon is currently at its roundest and brightest). This festival has been around since the Zhou Dynasty of 1046 – 246 BC when it was a moon sacrificial ceremony. The ceremony was all about giving thanks to the moon for the seasons, as it allowed their crops to harvest.
Since then, this festival has clearly been adopted to a festival with family and friends; either indoors where you eat Moon Cakes and give thanks, or outdoors where many celebrations take place in the form of dragon dancing, the lighting of lanterns, traditional Chinese plays, large displays, and so forth.
Lamma Island, Hong Kong is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. It’s a great mash-up of traditional Chinese life and Western modernity. This is a popular day trip destination for tourists and other expats, as it was quite busy with other hikers. To get there, you need to take the MTR to Central Ferry Pier and hop on a ferry for about 30 minutes.
What better way to spend a day off than exploring the city? We decided to head over to Kowloon side to do a bit of touristy sightseeing and weren’t disappointed!
We were ready to cram in three sightseeing adventures into one busy day: 10,000 Buddha Monastary, Chi Lin Nunnery, Nan Lian Garden!
The Dragon’s Back is a very well known Hong Kong hiking trail. In 2004, this trail was selected by TIME Asia as the best urban hiking trail. Dragon’s Back is part of the Hong Kong Trail, which is roughly 50km of hiking trail across HK Island (though Dragon’s Back itself is only about 5km). This hike has some spectacular views of Shek O Beach, Big Wave Bay, and Stanley Beach/Market.
The students are crazy; antsy in their seats, buzzing around with anticipation for the break to begin. The teachers might be more crazy; with last minute marking to finish, getting packed and ready for our vacations, and in desperate need of some rest and relaxation. It’s the period right before winter break, and we all just want to head out for the holidays and leave school and work behind for a few weeks.
What better way to spend a Tuesday off work thanks to the Chung Yeung Festival than to hike through Sai Kung East in search of the “deserted beaches” everyone talks about!?
Now, not only was the hike to get to these deserted beaches long, the journey to actually get to the beginning of the MacLehose Trail was a nightmare. Let’s start from the beginning..
My first off-the-island adventure was to Lantau Island (the largest island in Hong Kong!). This island is immediately to the west of HK and we took a ferry to get there and the MTR to get home. The airport and Disneyland are actually located on this island. The island is not heavily populated and mostly caters to tourists.
The Big Buddha is a huge pull for people to travel to the island and there are many trails for the adventurous hikers who are looking for a new challenge. Once up there, there are many sights to see – temples, incense burning areas, beautiful architecture, statues of warriors, and the Buddha of course.
Where to even begin … The first few weeks in Hong Kong seem like such a blur now. L and I were frantically travelling all around the island to try to find a flat, there were so many new faces to get to know, restaurants to try, and streets (and people!) to navigate.
We spent ten days staying at the Ibis Hotel in North Point. I remember getting off the bus and heading up to my floor. I had never seen a hotel room quite like this – one room with a double bed that left about one and a half feet for walking space and a bathroom. Needless to say, Hong Kong is quite the compact city.
After a long search for a two bedr0om flat, L and I finally settled. We live only a ten minute walk from work. Though our place isn’t spectacular, it works. We have all the necessities within minutes from us (Starbucks, Subway, grocery store, McDonalds, laundry, MTR [subway] station, 7-Eleven, and the list goes on) and are paying much less than what some of our co-workers who are living in a more central/western area are paying.
Though we had the keys to our place, there were still some essentials we had to deal with; we needed new mattresses and air conditioners, the house needed a good cleaning, Internet was not set up. Living out of a suitcase and sleeping on our couch for just over a week was not particularly pleasant. Looking on the bright side, it could always be worse.
Now that the dust has settled, I am so happy we chose this place to live. The convenience, price, and location of our flat is perfect.