Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

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I went along to the HK Museum of History yesterday, for the first time since it moved out of Kowloon park. I always enjoyed going to the old building, and the new one is even better.

Unless you are a geologist/botanist/archeologist it's probably worth moving quickly through the first three sections. The later sections talk about life in Hong Kong over the last couple of hundred years, and are the parts I found most interesting.

There are maps, opening times, etc at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/History/english/

The staff were all very friendly and helpful. The only thing to watch out for is the chilly aircon if you're carrying a baby or have a young child in a pushchair.

MrB

Lamma

Hey Mr Tall, how did Lamma island get left off the list of places to visit ? It's a great afternoon trip for a lazy Sunday - or any day if you are visiting.

Take the ferry from Central to Yung Shue Wan after lunch (timetable here : http://www.hkkf.com.hk/route/eyung_shue_wan.html), and follow the crowds into the small town. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to stop at, but we usually keep on walking, following the family trail across the island. There is one hill to climb, but nothing too strenuous - MrB Senior managed it at age 80 !

The path gets quieter as you leave the houses, and then dips down to the first beach. Just before the beach on the right is a stall where you can get a refreshing glass of soya milk, or a bowl of sweetened beancurd. Don't be tempted by this first beach, there is a better one to come !

From here the path heads upwards, ending with a short sharp climb up to a pavilion. You can catch your breath here and admire the view out over the South China Sea. Walk on again and you'll be able to see over the other side of the island, looking down on what used to be a large quarry to your left, and across Picnic Bay / Sok Kwu Wan. The floating rafts in the bay are for fish farming.

As you walk on to the shady side of the hill, you'll find the path runs through trees and bushes, very different from the dry, open view on the sunny side of the hill. Down some steps and turn right to walk past some old houses then along to a fork with a signpost to Lo So Shing beach. That's where I recommend you head for a swim, and to while away a few hours.

When the sun is going down, it's time for a shower, a clean T-shirt, and thoughts of a cold beer. Retrace your steps to the signpost, and turn right down the slope, then follow the path past some vegetable gardens until you come to the small local school. Turn right and you're following the water's edge at Sok Kwu Wan. On your right you'll see some manmade caves, with a sign pointing to "kamikaze cave". They date from the Japanese occupation. (Does anyone have a good explanation on the web to link to ?)

As you reach the village you'll walk across a large flat concrete area, with the Tin Hau temple in the far right corner. You'll probably want to have a quick peep inside if you've just started your visit to Hongkong - but if you're already all templed-out, head on to the restaurant for seafood dinner. The Rainbow restaurant is a safe choice for dinner (it seems to have taken over most of Sok Kwu Wan). The food is good, and they provide a free ferry service back to Central & Tsim Sha Tsui - just ask for a ticket when you pay the bill.

Related links - A different route for the energetic : http://ec.hku.hk/hiking/Islands/Lamma_Central/default.asp

Map and pictures : http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/touring/hkwalks/ta_walk_walk5.jhtml

Interesting wartime story about Lamma (it's a long page, search for "Lamma" to find the section) : http://www.rnsubmus.co.uk/tour/x24.htm

MrB

a hidden gem

Find your way to Central Plaza and go to the Lift Lobby on the 46th floor.

Absolutely spectacular views of Hong Kong.

You'll need to ignore the security guard, or tell him you work there, or some such. Apparently, tourists aren't allowed to go there since 911.

If you look like you've just come fro mthe office, you're probably ok.

I was up there today at 6pm with my brother, who is visiting. The security guard told us we'd have to leave so I said "sure, we'll just go around once, and then go away." and he let us alone.

Re:Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

Keeping with the building theme, if you have to change money at a bank, it's a good excuse to pay the HSBC headquarters in Central a visit. Watch out for the floor-mounted aircon blowing a cool breeze up your trouser leg - though it's not unwelcome on a hot Summer's day.

At the time it was built it was the most expensive building in the world, and it's still an eye-catching part of the Hong Kong skyline. Pictures, movie, and 360-degree viewer at : http://www.fosterandpartners.com/internetsite/html/Project.asp?JobNo=0501#

If you're looking at it in the evening from kowloon side, then at regular intervals you'll see all the lights go out, then come flickering back on. I think it's their energy-saving system, which must drive the late-night workers mad.

You'll also see the Standard Chartered building standing next door. It's got a lump (I think that's the right architectural term) on top to make the building a few feet higher than their arch rival. Petty ?

Other trivia - not sure if they are urban legends or not (let me know if you have any links to evidence for or against) :
- The lions outside show wartime damage from the Japanese invasion
- With agreement from the colonial government, the clear passage from the building to the seafront has been preserved through several reclamations.
- The wastepaper baskets were part of the overall look and feel, and were very expensive !

Cheers, MrB

Coastal Defence

If you're in the mood for history, try the Hong Kong Musuem of Coastal Defence.

It's signposted from Shau Kei Wan MTR station on Eastern Hong Kong Island.

Entrance fee is $10 and there's lots of exhibits of Hong Kong's defences through the ages. The most fascinating part of it is the WWII exhibits and the Military uniforms.

Also, there's a little cafe, and if you go out on the balcony, you're overlooking the harbour at the eastern end. You could practically spit across it here.

It's fascinating if you've an interest in historical Hong Kong.

Edit: Don't forget to go down to the Brennan Torpedo room down by the water. It's an interesting exhibit and it brings you to eye level with the ships going in and out of the harbour. Plus it was developed by a cunning Irishman in Hong Kong, not that I'm biased or anything.

dave

Re:Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

Dave, thanks for the reminder about the Coastal Defence museum. I still haven't got around to seeing that - it'll have to be a Sunday outing with BabyB. If you're interested in Hong Kong's wartime history, and don't mind a bit of a scramble, the Shing Mun Redoubt is also well worth a visit.

MrB

Re:Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

Keeping with the building theme, if you have to change money at a bank, it's a good excuse to pay the HSBC headquarters in Central a visit. Watch out for the floor-mounted aircon blowing a cool breeze up your trouser leg - though it's not unwelcome on a hot Summer's day.

At the time it was built it was the most expensive building in the world, and it's still an eye-catching part of the Hong Kong skyline. Pictures, movie, and 360-degree viewer at : http://www.fosterandpartners.com/internetsite/html/Project.asp?JobNo=0501#

If you're looking at it in the evening from kowloon side, then at regular intervals you'll see all the lights go out, then come flickering back on. I think it's their energy-saving system, which must drive the late-night workers mad.

You'll also see the Standard Chartered building standing next door. It's got a lump (I think that's the right architectural term) on top to make the building a few feet higher than their arch rival. Petty ?

Other trivia - not sure if they are urban legends or not (let me know if you have any links to evidence for or against) :
- The lions outside show wartime damage from the Japanese invasion
- With agreement from the colonial government, the clear passage from the building to the seafront has been preserved through several reclamations.
- The wastepaper baskets were part of the overall look and feel, and were very expensive !

Cheers, MrB

Not sure if this is true as such MrB, but have a look at the derricks on top of the building, used to help clean the windows.

They look like cannons and are aimed unsurprisingly at their rival, the bank of china.

I always thought that they were there for fung shui purposes, to send back 'negative energy' to the BOC.

Have a look next time you are in central!

Lamma

Okay, fair enough, Mr B! Lamma was unjustly ignored, and should be on my list!! I'll see that it ends up there.

Seriously, I left if off just because it's one of those places the Talls don't venture out to much. We tend to do Lantau if we've got island fever, and seafood/hiking call us to Sai Kung.

But you're right, for visitors who're here for more than a few days, it's a good option. I'd leave it till after Lantau, though -- what do you think?

Parks in the early morning

Another suggestion - especially if jet-lag means you are waking up early - is to head out to one of the parks to see people doing their morning excercise. You'll see various types of Tai Chi, including ladies with large red-cloth fans, and people with swords. There are also other (usually older) groups of people doing their exercises together, often to music. This is one of the things I like about Hong Kong, that when people get into their sixties here, many will start taking more care of their health, and join one of these informal groups to do their morning exercises and have a chat.

There are many different sets of exercises available. For a few years I tought a group of 50..80-somethings a group of four different sets of exercises, each with 18 movements. People would join and leave over time, but we'd normally have around 20 people. It was great to hear people say how their stiff shoulders would get better / they'd sleep better / lose weight / etc.

If you're staying in Tsim Sha Tsui, there will be plenty to see in Kowloon Park, while on Hong Kong Island you can head along to Victoria Park or Chater Garden (I'm not sure if much happens in Hong Kong Park - perhaps someone else could write and let us know). 6:30-8:30am should be good times to find people there - just have a wander around and you shouldn't have any trouble finding something to see. If you'd like something a bit more formal (or you don't fancy the early start !) there is a free kung fu demonstration on Sunday afternoons, see http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/heritage/ck/he_ckcl_kung.jhtml

If you're visiting Hong Kong and you would like to try Tai Chi, there are free classes for visitors described here : http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/heritage/ck/he_ckcl_taic.jhtml If you are staying longer, and would like to try learning some of the exercises you see in the parks, you can always try finding a group that you like the look of, sit and watch them for a few days, then stand at the back and start copying their movements. It's usually not long before someone will say hello. I can't promise how you'll get on, but I've found people to be very welcoming as long as you show interest, attend regularly, and keep smiling !

MrB

Other ideas for things to do if you are visiting : http://www.batgung.com/visitinghongkong

Re:Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

Here are a few more odds and ends that don't really make trips in themselves, but are worth a look if you're in the area :

- Food markets : Hong Kong people really like their food fresh, so there are often several trips to the market each day. If you walk past a fishmonger's stall, most fish will be either swimming in a tank, or very recently deceased. Expect to see fish cut in half lengthways, with all the organs still moving ! It's hard to see poultry stalls lasting much longer with the bird-flu scares, but while they are here you can still see hosewives apparently kissing chickens' bums - at least that's how it looks to me. MrsB tells me they are blowing the feathers aside to see through to the skin underneath, so they can check it's a good colour. In Wanchai to see one of these market areas you can walk along Wanchai Road to Cross Street, and wander around the side streets off that. You can see photos of the market here. In Causeway Bay, the other end of Wanchai Road is also a market, and all the more amazing for the contrast with the glitzy Times Square on the next block.

- Custard tarts. As you walk past restaurants and cake shops, you'll often see battered, blackened baking trays outside with egg custard tarts. If you catch them when they're warm out of the oven, they are hard to beat.

- "Ngau Lai So". Other restaurants (typically the small ones serving congee and noodles) will have a small area on the street selling deep-fried dough sticks (around a foot long, and shaped a bit like a cartoon dog's bone), and the Ngau Lai So, which are Hong Kong's answer to Dunkin Donuts. They are not round with a hole, but oval with a split in the middle. Also good when fresh, and just a couple of HK$ to buy.

- A walk along the Central-Wanchai seafront : This is easiest to describe if you are staying in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), and fancy getting out for a walk - allow 1.5 - 2 hours. From TST catch the Star Ferry across to Central, and from the ferry pier turn left to follow the seafront. You'll see the City Hall on your right - there is an excellent Dim Sum restaurant in here if you are visiting around lunchtime. Then there is what used to be the barracks for the British Army, and now for the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army). You can recognise it by the old "Prince of Wales Building" which has a narrow neck supporting the larger tower. We very rarely see any sign of the PLA, just the guards on duty at the gates. Next there is a large empty flat area - which in Hong Kong is usually a sign that it has recently been reclaimed. This is no exception and used to be the docks for the British Navy. Follow the coast along, until you turn left along the edge of the Convention centre which juts out into the sea. If you saw the handover ceremony where China reclaimed Hong Kong, this the building where it was held. It's a popular spot for visitors from the mainland to come and have their pictures taken, and has great views along the harbour. Follow the path right around until you are back on the main HK island again, then just along on your left you'll see the Star Ferry Pier where you can catch a ferry back to TST.

MrB

Re:Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

Hope y'all don't mind if this little newbie sticks his nose into all this? :D

I've just been lurking around the threads here for a few hours after stumbling on the board during a Google session - but that's a different story for a different (if any) time. Anyway, this thread here has just given me the warm fuzzies all over. I was an exchange student in HK with AFS back in 97-98 (arrived 6 weeks after the handover), and although I haven't been back, I still have a massive soft spot for the place.

Anyway, there were two places I always used to love visiting. Nothing too special, but I had my reasons :wink: First was the big mall in Sheung Shui. From some parts of it, you can see right into Shenzhen, and being a 17 year old from a little island nation, the fact I could see into ANOTHER COUNTRY (oh all right, so it wasn't [i]officially[/i] another country, but you know) always blew my mind. And I lived walking distance away, which made it an easy destination. (Made it a complete pain getting anywhere else, but hey :wink: ) The other one was... sheesh, the memory's a bit rusty... HK Park? The big park islandside... There was this great big cylindrical tower of sorts with a spiral staircase; it was a perfect place to just kind of hide from the world for a while.

Well, hope I didn't interrupt anything! As you were! :wink:

Re:Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

The family-B descended on HK for Christmas to check out Baby B. They said they had a good time, so I asked them what they liked :
- Get an octopus card (buy at the MTR station) if you are going to be here for a week or more. It saves worrying about having the right change, and so encouraged them to whizz around the place on buses, trams, MTR, ferries, etc
- Try lots of different food. If you find yourself heading to <name western restaurant chain> or eating at the hotel because it is safe, get out there and try something else instead. If you're nervous about point-and-try, check with one of the HK Tourist Association offices for some recommendations. Branto's went down very well - even though there is plenty of curry in the UK, this really is different. Dim Sum was another great favourite, in fact we had to have it on three days!
- A two-day package to Macau broke up the stay in HK, and was well received too. The Hyatt is a good place to stay, and the package includes access to the pool, spa, and gym. Swimming in an outdoor (heated) pool in December was good. Fernando's at Hak Sha Wan is a must for dinner.
- Wandering the streets. HK is very safe, and on the island it's hard to get very lost , so they enjoyed just meandering along the streets seeing what they found.

MrB

HK in earlier days

Hi guys,

I am so envious!!

Served in HK from 84 to 86 - the best years of a 30 year Army life. 'er indoors doesn't fly now so not much chance of going back, sadly!

Remember Stanley Market, NT, served in Blackdown Barracks. Played hockey for British Forces for Nav Bahrat IV fror a year, British Forces for a year and my unit for 2 years - loved it!!!

Sorry to interrupt.

Simmo

Re:Things to do if you're visiting HK ...

Hi Simmo,

Thanks for writing. I wonder how many British people in the forces must have passed through Hong Kong ? It must be a large number - even in my Mum & Dad's circle of friends (in a small town in Wales), there is one Chinese lady who moved there after marrying a local man who'd been stationed in HK, and another couple whose husband had been stationed here in the 60s. We've tried to persuade them to pay us a visit, but the wife is also not fond of travel.

I think you'd recognise Stanley as being similar, but Central & Kowloon are very different.

MrB