November: Hiking, Family and Becoming 22

by - November 27, 2013

Visiting HKUST
The month started with one last midterm and then continued with a fairly solid workload for the next few weeks (which makes for pretty awful blogging…). Keeping on top of work here requires a fairly constant effort that really cuts down on free time and makes it quite a challenge to fit in all of the places in Hong Kong that I want to see. As has been mentioned in previous blogs, my favoured way of getting out and about has been to walk along some of Hong Kong’s beautiful hiking trails.

My main goal with working hard at the start of the month was to save time for my family flying out for my birthday.  Their visit was to start with four full days in Hong Kong and would then be followed by four full days in Singapore. My four day ‘best of Hong Kong itinerary’ was as follows:
  1. Hong Kong Island
  2. Sai Kung, HKUST, Chi Lin Nunnery and Mongkok
  3. Victoria Peak and Stanley
  4. Lantau Island and the Ritz Carlton at the ICC
The majority of these places I had already visited and blogged about, but for the few that I haven’t yet, here is an overview:

Sai Kung - the nearest seaside town to HKUST and a place that I had only visited before at night. The town is part working fishing town and part expat hangout - with a mixture of fish restaurants and boutique shops. We headed over at the weekend when it was pleasantly busy and spent the morning wandering around.  It is the gateway to Sai Kung National Park, the most pristine natural area in Hong Kong and is also the base for lots of water sports on the east coast of the territory around Clear Water Bay and Port Shelter.

Sai Kung Waterfront
Stanley - a popular seaside town on the south side of Hong Kong island which is popular with expats and famous for its market. I had heard that there isn’t actually much to see there, but it was really pleasant with a beautiful harbour and really nice restaurants - we got the feeling that it had recently got a major facelift.  We had lunch at a beautiful Vietnamese restaurant called 'Saigon’ which was one of the best meals that I have had in Hong Kong.

Lantau Island - the biggest island in Hong Kong and home to the airport. It is another area of pristine natural beauty and is home to some of the longest hiking trails in the region (definitely a place I would like to be spending more time in next semester). The major tourist site on the island is the so called 'Big Buddha’, the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue, situated by a temple in the village of Ngong Ping.  A cable car with amazing views of the island and airport has been installed, connecting Ngong Ping with the nearest MTR station meaning that, as always in Hong Kong, transport isn’t an issue.

Ngong Ping Village
The family left for Singapore midway through the week (I have already been - see South East Asia 2011 blog) and I caught up with them on Friday night, landing in Singapore in the early hours of my 22nd birthday.

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