Our second day in Hong Kong dawned; a bit cloudier and cooler than the previous day, which was fine with us. It had been downright hot on Thursday. It is much more pleasant to sightsee when the temperature is in the 70’s rather than the 80’s. We had two choices for breakfast. There is a continental breakfast in the club room and a full buffet in the main restaurant on the first floor. We wanted a hot breakfast so headed downstairs.
There was quite the variety of foods available. The hotel is obviously trying to cater both to the Asian palate and the Western palate, with mixed results. There were scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, baked beans (for the British palate?), and other traditional western dishes. None was prepared quite the same as they might have been at an American restaurant; something was off about texture, color and/or flavor. Two types of congee were available along with condiments such as chopped green onion and peanuts. There was a man that would cook eggs or omelets to order (after trying the scrambled eggs on the first day, I opted for omelets). A full salad bar was set up for those wanting green salad first thing in the morning. There was a large variety of baked goods as well as several types of juices. Multiple pots (different varieties) of tea were set up. If you were a coffee drinker, there was an espresso machine. Many, many food choices. No way would a person leave hungry!
We decided to do the green line of the Hong Kong island HOHO tour to start the day. So, we took the hotel shuttle to Tsim Sha Tsui and walked to the Star Ferry. We were becoming experts! I was thinking we would ride the green line to the place where there was a free sampan ride and then rejoin the tour and ride the rest of the route. We also thought we would take the harbor tour today. But, when it came right down to it, we decided that we had spent enough time on water and did neither!
The green route went east through Hong Kong, paralleling the bay. Then, the route turned inland towards the back side of the island. It was great to get out of the city! Hong Kong is the fourth most densely populated city in the world and has twice as many skyscrapers as New York City. It was refreshing to get away from the buildings into more green space. We drove past the Hong Kong Jockey Club (a very, very popular betting venue) and Ocean Park (a very popular theme park) before turning south. We drove along Repulse Bay (so named because this is where the British repulsed the pirates that used to be in control) where real estate will run you $20,000 HK per square foot! This is around $3,000 US per square foot. Unbelievable!
We hopped off the bus in the town of Stanley. Stanley has a very nice market and we were still shopping for gifts. The variety of goods was much broader than we had found at the Ladies Market. And, the shopkeepers were not at all pushy. We purchased a couple of small items there. We walked back to the modern shopping center where the bus was going to pick us up. There were restaurants along the waterfront but they were all fairly pricy. We looked for a restaurant at the shopping center, but felt they were all overpriced as well. We did find an interesting shop:
The next stop on the bus was at the town of Aberdeen. The sampan ride was located there, but the sampans all had “Big Bus Hong Kong” stamped on the roofs. Not exactly authentic looking! We decided to pass and stayed on the bus all the way back to the Star Ferry Pier. We passed an interesting cemetery. Although it is owned by a Christian church, every April locals visit their ancestors there and clean up the gravesites. This is a Chinese tradition.
We took the ferry across to the Kowloon side and found another Mickey D’s for lunch. This particular McDonalds had ordering kiosks. I had read about these but never been at a McDonald’s that had them. In theory, you could put together a “gourmet” burger here but we just stuck with what was on the menu. You paid with a credit card and then waited for your number to be called. There was an enormous number of teenaged workers assembling meals for the hordes waiting for their lunches. The food workers all wore masks but the meal assembly workers did not. On the other side of the kitchen were the lucky two young women that got to assemble the gourmet burgers. I say lucky because the others were moving at an amazing pace – they were really hustling to get the food served quickly. The other two sat and chatted with each other while very slowly putting together a couple of burgers. I bet those positions are highly sought after!
After lunch we wandered around the main shopping area in Tsim Sha Tsui. There are many, many high end department stores here. We aren’t too much into designer clothing so weren’t too interested in shopping at any of them. Instead, we decided to try riding the MTR instead of waiting for the shuttle bus to show up.
There is an MTR stop right by the Peninsula, so we headed downstairs and found a whole other city down there. It was amazing! One thing to know about visiting this city is that you will be doing a huge amount of walking. We assumed that when we went underground that we would just be able to hop on the subway. Ha! This particular station (Tsim Sha Tsui) has multiple entrances/exits (A through P₅). Only one train line runs through here but to get to the train, you walk and walk and walk. Eventually, there is a turnstile where you place your octopus card to be scanned and then take either stairs or escalators down a couple of levels to the train. We finally found the right train going the right direction and rode it to Mong Kok. We transferred to another line to go to the East Mong Kok station. Again, each station has multiple exit points. We scanned our cards to and exited the station but chose the wrong exit. Smartphone to the rescue! We were able to plug in our hotel on Google Maps and get directions back to the hotel.
Our plan for the rest of the day was to consume some free evening snacks (aka dinner) and then go to the Temple Market. That particular market doesn’t start up until early evening so we had a little bit of down time in the hotel room. We took the MTR to the market and found that we were there too soon, so decided to walk down Nathan Street and drop in at the Shamrock Hotel to see if Patrick and Cecilia were in. We lucked out! They had just returned from a day hiking on Lamma Island so we chatted with them for a bit. They were headed to see the light show over the harbor that evening; we were headed to the market, so we parted ways.
The Temple Street Night Market was different from both of the other markets we had visited. The goods for sale were definitely touristy in nature. We wandered through the stalls and didn’t find anything in particular we wanted to buy. We had read that there were opera singers that wandered the area as well as fortune tellers. We saw one fortune teller and didn’t hear any opera. Perhaps we were there too early. We rode the MTR back to our hotel.