Hong Kong broke me. Literally… Money wise and mentally.
I guess this summarises pretty well my one intense week in HK. My expectation of HK was an extremely dense city with way too much going on. This was partly also the reality, however, the grey and dirty picture in my head was not what welcomed us. Green fingers had created this city into a beautiful garden with skyscrapers itching the clouds in between. The narrow and dark streets were taken out of a thriller, and the things you could buy along at the root of the city forest reminded me more of Halloween candy. This place is like a face that is divided in two; one bright and innocent and one dark and seductive. Hong Kong will hypnotise you!
With the extreme amount of people constantly surrounding us, there was no such thing as ‘space’. Poor Toby, being almost 2 meters tall, never really managed to settle in our box of a ‘hotel room’. Well, neither did I as we were constantly on the look out for more rats and cockroaches. It was a harsh smack in the face going from cheap South East Asia, where 10 dollars a night can get you a pretty decent room, while here in HK you can literally not even get a shithole for less than 20 dollars. After hours and hours, walking up and down the streets, climbing way too many buildings, and searching endless of pages online just to find a bed, we ended up having to pay around 30 US dollars per night. I really hated sleeping in these places! Learn from my mistake if you are going to HK: make sure you have enough money to get a half decent place! Getting surprised with a night at one of Hong Kong’s nicest hotels, Mira, was therefore very much the best engagement gift I ever could have gotten.
Yes, I got engaged in HK. Who would have thought that!? Definitely not me. As for those of you who have read my precious engagement blog post, you might remember that the whole thing happened at the Peak. This is the only place I experienced some alone time in HK! If you like hiking and being rewarded with a breathtaking view, then you should really head up to the top of the Peak. You can take a cable car both up and down to the starting point of the hike. However, I would recommend you to take the bus up and rather take the cable car down; the queue going up with the cable car is insane!
Hong Kong might be the very best place in the world to meet new and fascinating people. The mix of everything and everyone make the craziness an enjoyable social ride.
I’m so lucky to have friends all over the world, which sometimes feels more like a curse than a blessing. You meet someone, you start caring for them, and then suddenly they are gone, or maybe I am the one who is gone… Going to HK was therefore such a nice way of getting my long awaited reunion. I met Color and Gratiano through a model shoot back home in Norway, and we just clicked immediately. Color and I have kept in touch since then and we decided to have a killer shoot at her studio. Toby has never seen me on the set, so I was a bit nervous of how he would find it. Because of my engagement it also became his first time experiencing the model ‘work’. Color created the most beautiful engagement photos, that girl knows her stuff!
Under this point it is important not to forget your friends back home, so take advantage of the ridiculous quick and relatively cheap post service. If you end up with too much luggage (shopping is a must, we all know that), sending things home from HK is recommended. For those who wonder: Yes, I’m scared of post boxes!
The world is small: second time I met Monica on our 4 month Asia trip. Most random and lovely surprise.
I had no idea that HK had such a stunning river view! I have lost count of how many times Toby and I just had to stop to take in this amazing scenery. I would also really recommend taking the ferry over to the other side of the river, just to get a close up of the mighty snake of a river swinging through the city. Remember that you can also use your Octopus card (see the ‘street wandering’ paragraph underneath) for the ferry, nice!
Say what? Yes, in HK there are secret bars all over the city. You might walk pass several of them without even knowing that they are there. Toby and I was so lucky to be taken to the Madame Pound bar by Michael, a previous colleague of Toby. And now I’ll share the secret of how to get in with you guys:
This is literally what it says it is. This is one of those things they say “you just have to see”. It was a real workout to climb all these stairs. Not the place to wear heels, but then again people from HK are bad asses.
In addition to your feet, remember to get the Octopus card. This will allow you to travel around the whole city on all public transportation. You can get it at the airport on arrival, and topping it up is so easy and cheap.
What is very much typical HK, beside foggy days, is the amount of watch and jewellery shops that are crawling all over the city. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, Lukfook Jewellery, Chow Sang Sang Jewellery; HK is glittering because of all the diamonds under its roof! Probably the very best place to get an engagement ring (good boy, Toby <3). The skyscrapers are making me dizzy, the humming from a messy crowd leaks into my brain… I’m standing in the very middle of the City centre. The lights are spinning as strangers are constantly bumping into me. I had to seek shelter at La Perla.
This was maybe my favourite Hong Kong experience (after my engagement of course). You get there by ferry. Try to leave just before sunset so you can be spoiled with the view during your boat ride. Michael and his family were so kind to bring us along. A perfect stroll through the sea stalls was followed by a perfect dinner under the stars.
Talking about food, Hong Kong knows how to make you satisfied. Despite the fact that it was significantly more expensive than any other place we have visited on this trip, we were left with a smile on our face. There is always something for each and every taste buds: Food, drinks, coffee, snacks, nomnomnom.
The picture underneath (left side) makes this dinner almost look enjoyable. This was the only dinner I should not have agreed on. That day we decided to try the proper local dinner place. I’m all for trying authentic experiences, but this one was outside my comfort zone. There were cockroaches even on the table! The people beside us had bugs crawling in and out of their plates. I didn’t really eat anything that evening, however, Toby didn’t mind the extra proteins flying around him. Unfortunately, next day Toby ended up with his head inside a monument plant, in the middle of the street, suffering from last night’s local adventure. I’m such a horrible person; I just started laughing!
To make up for our horrible choice of food poisoning we ended up having dinner at the famous Gordon Ramsey restaurant. This was a complete different story! I’m still dreaming of my out of this world gorgeous Shepherd’s pie.
Coffee, of course. Our favourite place for coffee became N1, who was also the place we ended up eating most of our breakfasts. Even Gratiano joined us for a coffee break.
I could die for this bun, it literally made my day every morning. Hong Kong, can you please send some of these to Norway, ASAP, thank you!
We ended our stay with celebrating on top of the roof of HK. Cheers to you, HK. You know how to wow a girl. When you sit on the end of 50 floors and look down at the crawling ants underneath you, a strange twist happens in your belly. A view like this just makes me feel so small, but for some reason I do really like this feeling. I start thinking about everything and nothing, and nothing is everything, and everything is nothing. In the corner of my ear I can hear Toby say, “Renate, what are you thinking about?”. I shut my eyes, and everything and nothing goes in and out of my head. If this is what meditating is all about, then I get it.
Quote Of The Day:
“Clearly, then, the city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.”
– Desmond Morris