Sightseeing in Hong Kong
Since Moustache opened in September, Ellis and I have not been able to travel, which is the one downside of being shopkeepers, especially as there are so many places in Asia we’ve yet to discover a short flight away. Sometimes, however, all it takes is a visitor to awaken you to the undiscovered corners of one’s own home. In this instance, it was Ellis’ mom Pat, who visited us just as we were winding down after the completion of our winter collection- we’d hoped to make a trip to Cambodia, and then to Guangzhou just across the border with China, but at the end of the day, we were only able to spend a couple of odd days away from the shop and so decided to do something we hadn’t done since moving here- act as tourists in Hong Kong.
We started with a trip to the Big Buddha, which I’d been to before, but- and I’m sure this is was some sort of Zen Koan- the whole massive statue was shrouded in Mist. I literally couldn’t see 6 inches in front of me and kept running into the mobs of fellow tourists stumbling around in the clouds. And this after a white knuckled trip up the ski lift which I vowed never, ever to do again.
So I was fairly adamant about taking the far less convenient route this time around- a half-hour ferry ride from Central to a 45 minute bus ride through the winding hills of Lantau Island. Luckily, this turned out to be quite lovely, particularly the bus ride, which provided dizzying views of the sea and mountains, and then finally, the Buddha himself…
We actually took so many pictures of the Buddha and the massive climb up there, but if you’ve been there, it’s probably not so interesting, and if you haven’t, I wouldn’t want to deprive you of the experience of seeing it (or not, depending on the weather) yourself, so I will leave it at that for Mr. Buddha.
This is the Po Lin Monastery at the foot of the Buddha; it’s been here since the 1920s, though the statue that’s made it famous was only completed in the 1990s. They make a very tasty and inexpensive vegetarian lunch for visitors and is certainly worth strolling about…
Next up was a trip out to Kwun Tong in Kowloon for some modern art. An old, rather down at the heels industrial part of town near the famous old Kai Tak Airport, Kwun Tong is home to some unexpected cultural spaces. One is the Cattle Depot Artist Village, an Edwardian slaughterhouse which is now government subsidised studio space for local artists. Despite it’s rather gruesome past, the building is lovely, and at just over 100 years old, is about as ancient as architecture gets here. We especially loved the Daikanyama-like vibe of all the big gardens outside the studios.
From The Cattle Depot to the giant Osage Gallery is a short walk. Osage has a few locations in Hong Kong; this is by far the largest.
It’s not all art in Kwun Tong though- there are a few city institutions for the foodies and those interested in local Hong Kong culture as well.
It was shut when we visited, but Brandice highly recommends a stop at the PK Cafe. Lucky for us, the Yee Shun Milk Company was open. Not exactly a balanced lunch, but certainly a delicious one!
Our final adventure will sound like a fairly routine Hong Kong outing- perhaps it is, but for us, it was a revelation. I’ve been to the Peak a handful of times and each time bristle a little more loudly at how crass the whole experience it is: how annoyingly packed with picture taking tourists the tram is, how tacky the souvenir stands that you are forced to walk through are, how mediocre the restaurants are. Still, it’s a trip that must be made. We’d tried the Morning Trail when we first moved here, but it was the height of summer, after a rain, and it took about twenty minutes for us to retreat to a cab and then another day for Ellis to fall ill with what I’m still convinced was Dengue Fever. So do this hike in the winter. It starts just above our old house on Kotewall Road in the Mid-Levels, which is a brisk walk up the ladder streets from Hollywood Road and passes by a nice assortment of colonial buildings.
Here’s Ellis in front of the Museum of Medical Sciences, just behind our studio on Hollywood Road.
And the St. Stephen’s Girl’s College near our old house.
One of the old boundary markers when Hong Kong was called Victoria and included only what is now Central and the Peak.
After a brisk but by no means grueling hike up the hill, you come to the lovely and quite posh Lugard Road, with it’s hidden mansions and stunning views of the harbor below.
After what must surely be one of the more exhilarating walks in the world, it seemed a shame to go back down by the tram, which is where you’ll end up at the end of Lugard Road, so we decided to walk back down into town on the perilously vertiginous Old Peak Road, ending up in the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens.