After landing in our final destination before heading home, we headed straight to our favourite 5 star food cuisine… MacDonald’s! We wanted to get our bearings and make a plan of action for the next few days before leaving the airport. Having made a basic plan, we headed to an area of Hong Kong called Mong Kok. This area is not on the main Hong Kong island itself, but just outside. It is mainly populated with Cantonese and so has a real authentic Cantonese vibe. Our hostel - The Apple Inn, was not quite like any hostel we’d been to. Firstly, it was a mission to find. It was located on the 13th floor in a high rise building, but of course we were looking for the name of the hostel at eye level on the street. After eventually finding the right building and floor, we waited in the tiniest of rooms they called a reception. From there we were given our room codes and sent off. Our actual room was on floor 11. Once on floor 11, we had to locate the right door which led to our block of rooms. There were at least 20 doors leading to the smallest of spaces they called flats, it was unbelievable really. We eventually found our door, and then once inside we had to find our room. The room was interesting and very basic. Two bunk beds separated with half a meter of space, and a bathroom where you couldn't open or shut the door unless your back was completely against the back wall. It was only £13 a night for the two of us so it was to be expected really. Hong Kong prices were nothing like Vietnam’s. For this price, we could have had a modern private hostel room in Vietnam. Space is an absolute luxury in Hong Kong, people pay stupid money for it! Hence all the high rise buildings I suppose.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wondering and exploring the streets of Mong Kok, stopping at a little bakery (which seem to be big here) for some snacks. That evening, we didn’t actually stop for dinner as we were both fancying different things. It had been a long day and we were heading to Dan and Sas’s house the next day. Dan and Sas are family that had taken me in and looked after me the last time I was in Hong Kong so we were heading over to see them again, only this time Dan was away and they have a new addition to the family, little Tom with another one on the way.
After breakfast of a coconut pastry tart (which are now my new favourite thing), we called the MTR (underground tube) to meet Sas at Hang Hau station. It was so nice to see her again, and she greeted us both with the warmest hug. I loved staying with them and I knew we were in for a great few days. I was gutted I wouldn't get to see Dan though as he was away on business, but there’s always next time. That afternoon, Matt and I hiked one of the mountains by Sas’s house, the same one I hiked two years ago. We walked for a good two hours and finished down by the salt water bay beaches. That evening, Sas took us out to Sai Kung Hoi Pong Harbour to a glorious Cantonese restaurant where we could pick our own seafood from the tanks. I can’t say I loved that bit, but it was nice to see how fresh it all was. We finished the evening at a rustic little coffee shop around the corner where Matt and I had posh glasses of wine, Sas a coffee and we all shared 3 pieces of cheesecake. What a perfect evening!
The next day, we made our way over to Victoria’s Peak in the western side of main Hong Kong island. We took the peak tram to the Sky Terrace 428, which stands ironically 428 meters above sea level and is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong. The Sky Terrace has the most incredible 360 degree views over Hong Kong island so I was so glad we could both experience it. We spent a little while on the viewing platform soaking up the amazing views of the city skyline before going for a little walk around the peak mountain top. We finished our visit off with food at the restaurant Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Matt is a massive fan of the film Forest Gump and this is the first Bubba Gump restaurant either of us had seen, so it had to be done. Of course, we shared a massive plater of deep fried shrimp which was actually very good. After, we made our way back down in the tram, I didn’t realise just how steep the tramline was, it felt like a roller coaster at times! We decided to head for a little wonder around central Hong Kong which was pretty cosmopolitan. It was beaming with fancy restaurants and modern bars with Ex-Pats who had just finished work filling up the outside seating areas. We decided to have a drink in one of the bars along Lang Kawi Fong. We could see ourselves fitting in here, we were loving our time in Hong Kong! Later that evening, we had tortellini pasta and vegetables with Sas back at their house drinking South African Savanna cider, what another amazing day. I would be gutted to leave Sas’s house tomorrow but we had loved every minute of her hospitality.
The next morning, Sas dropped us back in Mong Kok where we would spend our last two nights before home. We managed to find a hostel with a private room, the fact that it was the size of a cupboard didn't matter at this point. We spent the rest of the afternoon swanning around the shops, stopping for food along the way. We decided to spend the rest of the day chilling. That evening, Matt had read about the Goldfish market in Mong Kok so we made our way over. It was actually really sad to see, hundreds of tiny goldfish sealed in plastic bags with a cup full of water. There were customers everywhere buying tons at a time. Although it didn't lie easy with us, this is part of the Cantonese culture which we respected and just watched on. We ended up finding ourselves in a general market selling all sorts of miscellaneous goods. It was so crowded though, I couldn’t really get to see many of the stalls. On trying to find a place to eat, we were stuck for choice really. Everything in Mong Kok was in Cantonese so it made it really difficult. I’m ashamed to say we bailed out and went for the only western restaurant we could find…a Pizza Hut! The food was very different to home but at least we could understand the menu.
Our last and final day on our entire travel trip! I couldn’t believe it really! We had been away from home for 18 weeks, but I still wanted to do more. If it hadn’t of been for our lack of funds, I think we would have carried on for as long as possible. Sas had recommended we head over to Lantau Island to see the Tian Tan Buddha as there was a lovely little trek trail there. We caught the MTR and then the bus (as the gondola wasn’t working) to Ngong Ping. The bus dropped us off at the entrance and we walked towards the huge bronze Buddha statue. It is one of the largest seated Buddha statues in the world at 34 meters high, hence the nickname the Big Buddha. There were lots of little touristy stalls selling souvenirs and refreshments before the walkway of 260 steps leading up to the Buddha. It was such a lovely day but the sun was behind the Buddha so we couldn’t get the best view of it. The statue is not exactly a piece of history as it was only unveiled in 1993. It is more of a tourist attraction than a place of spirituality. We decided against the trek in the end as I think we were both tired and just wanted to take our last day steady rather than try to cram everything and anything into it. Also, we had booked a fancy meal at one of Hong Kong’s best steak restaurants which Mum and Dad had said they would treat us to so I couldn’t wait to get all dolled up for that.
That evening, after spending a few hours getting ready, we made our way over to Hong Kong Central via the MTR. Matt and I had really fallen in love with Hong Kong, we loved everything about it and could really see ourselves living here for a while. I liked the fact there was the cosmopolitan vibe within the city, but it was surrounded by mountains and stunning beaches. The quality of life here must be amazing, especially with all the beautiful weather most of the year round. We were running a tad late but eventually arrived at the Argentinian steak house - Tango. I absolutely LOVED the decor and the vibe the restaurant had to offer, it was by far the fanciest place we’d been to probably all trip! We had lots of stunning wine and gorgeous tasting steak with a selection of 6 sauces to share. It was such an amazing place, I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Hong Kong. We finished our last night off with a cocktail and a beer at the world’s highest bar, Ozone. This bar is located on the 118th floor of the famous Ritz-Carlton. I had been there before with Dan two years ago when I last visited Hong Kong and I loved it then so had to bring Matt this time.
What an amazing way to end our trip of a lifetime! Feeling slightly tiddled and very content, we made our way back to our hostel ready for our midday flight the next day. I couldn’t quite believe it was all coming to an end but I felt so lucky we’d had the opportunity to do it! All the incredible adventures we’d been on, all the amazing people we had met, all the amazing memories we will always have and we did it together!