Every once in a awhile we receive promotional airfares that at too good to pass up.
Back in September Jet Star offered round trips from Tokyo to Hong Kong for only $200. We booked a three-day trip during the fall season when the heat and humidity were manageable.
The flight time is around four hours and for a low cost carrier the seats were comfortable. Upon arrival we purchased the 3 days Octopus Pass that enables you to ride public transportation (MTR) including the airport express train and if you turn in the card at the airport they refund 50 Hong Kong dollars.
We met someone three years ago in a restaurant in Japan. He was from Hong Kong and we stayed in touch. He met us the evening of our arrival and assisted us in deciding where and what to see during our stay. He took us to Mak’s, a 160 year Won Ton restaurant and then to the longest escalator in the world. From there we took the tram to the top of Victoria Peak (Just “The Peak” to the locals) for a spectacular night view of the city. Once back at our hotel we enjoyed the harbor view from our 33rd floor room.
The next morning we tested out the subway system, found it to be clean and efficient.
Walked to some historic temples only to find they were being restored. Enjoyed a stroll through Victoria Park and back to the Central district over to the meat market and finally a ferry to Kowloon.
Right near the Kowloon terminal is the historic Clock Tower, the only remaining building on the Kowloon Canton railway station. We walked around the city and then through Kowloon Park, which was once a military fortress. They have a wild bird section, beautiful floral paths, and fountains. Right in the middle was a mini-McDonalds. This is a very peaceful park with many walkways.
We had Italian food for lunch and Thai for dinner. Went back to the Promenade to watch the Symphony of Lights another must see attraction. There were several fascinating boats cruising the harbor waiting for the display to begin. It starts around 8 p.m. and many buildings light up to the sound of the music. The show lasts around fifteen minutes, but was well worth the wait.
In the morning we boarded a jet boat for the one-hour ride to Macau. Up until 1999 Macau was still under Portuguese control. The population is only 614,000, but they have over 31 million visitors annually.
The buildings and side streets make you feel like you are somewhere in Europe. I found the people to be very friendly and helpful. We had to ask the police for directions twice and they answered with a smile. Macau does not have a military only the police force. Even though they are now part of China the atmosphere was that of a separate country. Their economy is almost entirely dependent on casinos.
The 2014 gambling revenue was seven times that of Las Vegas.
There are so many historic buildings that you need to decide which ones to visit. We took the grey line hop on hop off tour, which gives a 50% discount to those over 65. We visited the Historic center, (UNESCO World Heritage site) St Paul’s ruins, Na Tcha Temple, Mount Fortress, tasted the famous Portuguese Egg Tart, and then hiked over to Macau Tower. This tower is in Guinness book of world records for the highest Bunge jumping in the world. We watched several young ladies jump off 233 meters and it took our breath away. You can even do the skywalk outside the tower or climb the mast up to 338 meters. I was there just to take pictures and watch as others took on the thriller activities. Once back on the ground we visited A-Ma, the oldest temple in Macau.
We hopped on the bus and went to the border with mainland China, walked around Kun lam Temple (You need to see the incense shaped large bee hives) and back to the ferry terminal. To really see Macau you need to stay several days. Even the casinos have must see attractions.
Both countries offer unique cuisine, (Hong Kong has over 12,000 restaurants) unlimited historic attractions, family activities, and modern shopping centers. I liked visiting the parks and watching the people, especially in the morning when they were gathered to do Tai Chi exercise. Walking the meat market streets is another point of interest. The smells, sounds, and colorful animation of those making their purchases, is very entertaining.
Fall and early winter are the best time to visit, as the rest of the year is hot and humid. Bring a light jacket because the air conditioners run 24/7. The transportation system is excellent and unless you are out late at night taxis are not really necessary.
Macau and Hong Kong should definitely be added to your bucket list, if not already there. I will be going back again in the future.
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