Our Monday began with a late start as we waited for the hostel to switch us from the four bed dorm we’ve been staying in to a private room (for a discount, score!). We set out to the promenade over Victoria harbor to catch a ferry, which is quickly becoming one of our favorite spots in the city. We took a lovely ferry ride to Lamma Island, a place with no cars.
A stark contrast from the bustling, metropolitan feel of Hong Kong, Lamma Island is a small, wild island with several little fishing and farming villages. The first step off the pier in Sok Kwu Wan brings you to a strip of side by side seafood restaurants, which I can only imagine are vibrant and hectic during the summer. We opted to turn left to hike the Ling Kok Shan trail.
Although paved, this trail was anything but easy. The islands around here are all mountainous, and where the land meets the sea is mostly steep granite cliffs. As you can imagine, there was plenty of up and down and oh so many stairs. Despite the difficulty, the views it offered were well worth the sweat. We passed by several small, traditional fishing villages, as well as little farming communities, mountain wetlands, and gorgeous beaches.
As biologists we thoroughly enjoyed the wide variety of plant life. The flowers and trees were bizarre- unlike anything we’d ever seen at home. Among the branches flitted gorgeous crested birds while little egrets stood one legged in the creeks. Throughout the trail we spotted several small shrines, and marveled at the beauty of this type of worship- it makes far more sense to me to praise in the midst of nature rather than constructing a building to keep it out.
Once we finally made it back to Sok Ku Wan we checked out the “Kamikaze cave”, one of several caves constructed by the Japanese during World War II for the purpose of hiding boats for suicidal attacks. Luckily these caves were never used.
We caught the ferry back to Hong Kong Island and made our way to the Kau Kee noodle house on a recommendation- GO HERE if you are ever in Hong Kong, it is well worth the long line! We gorged on tasty homemade noodles with beef brisket in broth. The restaurant itself was crazy! The line outside seems to stay consistently half a block long, so the tables are always full, and you’re seated wherever there’s space even if that means sharing with strangers. During our meal we shared a table with 4 others and met a friendly pair of Korean travelers. A feisty little women stands at the door to accept payment and usher people in and out, flawlessly maintaining the hyper speed ebb and flow of the restaurant without making you feel rushed.
One of the more striking parts of my day was noticing the prevalence of English. It’s truly become the international language. Most people in other parts of the world are forced to learn English in school as they grow up, so they use it to communicate not just with foreigners, but each other as well. Those in mainland China speak Mandarin, while in Hong Kong they speak Cantonese. It always shocks me a bit when I see two ESL speakers using English to communicate.
Hardly able to move from our sore bodies due to the hike, we made our way back to the hostel for our first night of truly fulfilling rest in the private room. Ahh, the sweet serenity of a private bathroom and only the snores I’m used to interrupting my sleep.
Today, we attempted to get an early start but failed miserably (as per usual) and didn’t make it out on the town until around noon. Grumbling about the ever-upwards layout of Hong Kong island, we climbed stair after stair until we reached Hong Kong park and enjoyed the beautiful aviary. We spent more time than most would watching the birds bicker over food and space and loved seeing all of the local species.
After the aviary we joined the amusement park length queue for the tram up to Victoria Peak- arguably the single most popular tourist destination in all of Hong Kong. For good reason. The tram (the steepest one in the world, by the way) takes you to the top of the highest peak in the city. The views are utterly breathtaking, and provide a true sense of the enormity of the city and mountains that surround it. In true Hong Kong fashion, the peak also hosts several luxury retailers, a Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, and tourist traps galore. There’s a peculiar beauty to the absurdity of it all.
Once back at sea level, we explored the Hong Kong zoo and botanical gardens. We spent most of time looking at all of the adorable monkeys, and decided that we would really enjoy running a monkey sanctuary in retirement (but just for the little guys). They were so cute that Keenen couldn’t keep his hands away from his face the whole time we were watching them.
Stomachs growling, we took up a friend on another recommendation decided to try Tim Ho Wan’s, the cheapest Michelin star rated restaurant in Hong Kong. I SERIOUSLY recommend this place- OH MY WORD DIM SUM IS DELECTABLE. Tim Ho Wan’s serves their own rendition of traditional Chinese dim sum, Hong Kong style. We had baked buns and fried dumplings filled with barbecue pork, pork and chives in bean curd skin, and turnip cake (the only thing I’d turn-up my nose at next time- haha, get it?).
With full bellies we lumbered back to the harbor for a ferry back towards our hostel, but as timing was perfect we decided to give the laser show another shot. I was wrong. I lied last time. Don’t miss it. The key is being on time (it starts at 8) and being somewhere where you can hear the music- neither of which we did last time. It’s quite an impressive feat, timing the lights on the buildings, the lasers, and spotlights all to this score- and it seemed to be a slightly different than before. While we were waiting for the show, three adorable third grade aged Chinese kids came up to use to make conversation and practice their English. They were unbearably adorable, and we felt honored that they chose to practice on us!
Sore, tired, happy and fulfilled, we finally made it back to the hostel for bed, where I now sit writing. Any questions about our day? Let us know below!