Monday, February 21, 2011

Hong Kong and Macau

Sorry its a bit belated but... My trip to Hong Kong and Macau for the lunar new year was AMAZING! We all had the best time and everything just worked out really great without us doing too much planning in advance. Hong Kong is such a cool city! It is definitely one of my favorite cities that i have ever been to. It really is a perfect mix of east and west. There are two main parts of the city that we were in: Kawloon and Hong Kong island. Kawloon has a really 'chinese' feel to it opposed to Hong Kong Island which feels like a big international city. It was really cool to have both east/west feels to the city opposed to Korea which is overwhelmingly eastern feeling. Its cool that Korea is so eastern though, because its a crazy different experience than any other even remotely western city, but Hong Kong has a nice blend that made it seem cool and different, but also familiar enough to make it livable. Hong Kong is definitely a city i would like to go back to.

So anyway.. out trip. We arrived to our hostel (in Kawloon) around midnight and dropped our bags off and went out exploring a bit. The lady running our hostel directed us towards an area that has some bars so we went to check it out. On the way, we passed a place that looked like it was serving dim sum.. and we were starving.. so we decided to check it out. It turned out the be a great decision! and about the first dim sum meal out of many many many many in our time in Hong Kong. The dim sum was delicious, fast, and cheap! They had a lot of the familiar favorites that ive had back home and some new stuff. But overall the meal was amazing and we got a ton of dishes and it only cost like $4 a person. ... So far so good in Hong Kong!

After we ate, we walked around the bar area more trying to find a place to sit and have a few drinks. At first we were deterred by the signs reading ~$20 USD for beer.. until we realized that they were advertising for 6 beers! (I guess at a lot of places they sell beer in sets of 6) This made the price waaayyy more appealing and we eventually settled on a place and drank our beers and relaxed and enjoyed our first evening in HK.

When we woke up the next day we went to another dim sum place for breakfast and then walked around exploring some markets near our hostel. I got a pair of 'Beats by Dre' headphones for like $12!!!! (They retail for over $100) So i was pretty pumped about that. After exploring the markets for a while we headed over to the harbor front to the 'Avenue of the Stars.'

The Avenue of the Stars is like Hong Kong's version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Its a stretch of promenade adjacent to the harbor that has handprints of famous chinese celebrities. We only recognized a few of the names (Jackie Chan, Jet Lee) but the coolest thing about the Avenue of the Stars is the view. The view of Hong Kong Island from the other side of the harbor is really really amazing. It reminded me of like a smaller, cleaner and newer Manhattan.

So we hung out along the promenade and enjoyed the view of Hong Kong for a bit and then headed back to the hostel to relax before heading back out for dinner.  When we ventured back out to try and find something to eat, almost everything was closed due to it being Lunar New Years Eve. After walking around, we eventually found a dim sum place that was open to have dinner. The rest of the night we bar hopped around the area we were the night before.. people watched at this packed flower market.. played some darts and ended the night by eating some delicious chinese beef brisket soup that we all put WAY too much chili sauce in which resulted us in all getting the spicy hick-ups. Despite the spicy hick-ups, the soup was delicious.

The next day we explored Hong Kong Island and ended up going on a bus tour of the city.  The bus tour was a cool and relaxing way to see the whole island. After the bus tour we explored a pretty sweet park that was in the city.. Hong Kong had a few pretty cool parks. I cant say enough how cool this city is!!

Later in the day we went to the big New Years parade. It was pretty cool but was kinda overhyped. It was SO packed and we could barely see and honestly, as far as parade quality goes,  id take the hollidazle or the macys parade over the new years parade in HK. But, it was still real cool to experience it. During the parade we discovered that they sold dim sum at 7/11!!! Amazing! And it wasnt bad either! Again, Hong Kong is the coolest.

After the parade we checked out the Intercontinental Hotel which we were told has amazing views of Hong Kong.. and we were not disappointed. We all felt pretty cool enjoying drinks and the skyline in one of the fanciest hotels in the city. Then we went over to Lan Kwai Fong which is like the bar/club scene area on Hong Kong island which was also really cool. We had a few drinks and enjoyed the night before heading back to our hostel.

The next day was a BIG day! So we had hostels booked for the first 3 nights we were in HK.. and the last night that we were in HK.. but we were going to Macau (Chinese Vegas) for that night and everything was either booked cause of the new year or too expensive so we were homeless until 2PM the NEXT day when we could check into our final hostel.

We woke up, got suited up in our sweet fitted suits (we thought that Macau was a good opportunity to rock our new suits), grabbed some dim sum lunch in HK and hopped on the ferry over to Macau.

Macau was another really really cool place. Hong Kong was the perfect cool mix of east/west and Macau, being a formerly Portuguese colony, had the super cool feel of european/chinese... plus vegas. There were parts of Macau that we were walking around in that had all of these beautiful European style buildings and cobblestone streets and european-esque squares... all littered with chinese ballons and lights and writing. The city felt really awesome. Parts literally felt like you were in Europe. And then of course there are the HUGE casinos and lights!! One minute we were walking in this quaint european feeling square and the next we were in front of a huge casino and felt like you are in Vegas! Macau was a really cool place to experience.

When we arrived in Macau, we did some exploring, ate some traditional food (which was delicious) and did some more walking around before hitting the casino. We had a LONG night ahead of us so we were in no rush to get anywhere.. When we were done exploring the city, we checked out a few casinos to see what we liked. We began at The Wynn where we found a cigar bar with a really cool garden area that we relaxed in and had a few drinks.. then we relocated to another casino and sat down at the blackjack table.

We played blackjack and a little bit of craps for most of the night and somehow, we all ended up winning $$!! With our winnings, we ordered a dim sum FEAST at like 6am and were trying to ride the high of winning as long as we could. After our meal, we went back to the ferry terminal and took an 8AM ferry back to HK. Once we were back in HK, we wandered around for a while (literally hours) looking for a place where we could just sit and watch sports.. finally we were directed to a part of town, Soho, where we found an awesome restaurant that had western breakfast and was playing ESPN. We waited out the last few hours till we could check into that nights hostel there.

FINALLY, at 2 we went to our hostel and took an extremely needed nap. After the nap, we went down to the Avenue of the Stars to check out the famous light show. Every night, at 8 PM, the skyline of HK island puts on a really sweet light show which im happy we got to see. Then, we headed back to Soho for dinner. Soho ended up being a really sweet part of HK that I am glad we discovered. It was really western and nice and had some amazing looking western restaurants. We settled on this mexican place and the food and drinks were excellent.

Once we finished dinner, we headed back to Lan Kwai Fong and chilled in a hookah bar for a bit, went to this ice bar (pretty cool experience), and then went to this bar/club on the top of a hotel that had really sweet views of the city. It was a fun end to a crazy day and a nice last night in HK.

Hong Kong was everything that i was hoping it to be and more! I can not say enough how much i enjoyed that city. It was just so cool and eastern AND western and i would love to go back there some day.

Heres a link to my pictures from the trip 

Back in Korea things are well. This month ive only had to teach in the afternoons which has been really nice and easy and the new semester starts the beginning of March. The time here continues to FLY and i cant believe that i have almost been here for 6 months!! CRAZY! I continue to really enjoy my experiences and am so happy that i decided to come to Korea.

Hope all is well a home!

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