On Aug 21 I went to Hong Kong with my 21 yr old daughter. The main purpose of my trip was to visit my youngest daughter, who is working there for 3 months. But, of course it was a great opportunity to source out new fabrics as well!
Hong Kong is an amazing place to visit. From the moment I stepped out of the MTR (metro) station at Times Square in Causeway Bay, I knew I would love it. It is so vibrant and alive with people (especially compared to the sleepy little town that I live in) and you are surrounded by sky scrapers, advertising, glitter and warmth, even at 11:00 at night.
We had 10 days to explore and we didn’t want to waste a minute of them. My youngest daughter, Therese, had been there for 4 weeks already, so she showed us some tips, like where to buy an Octopus card. This card allows you to pay for things in stores and ride the buses and MTR – all you do is “swipe” it and the amount is subracted from your balance on the card. Very convenient! There are machines in the MTR stations where you can add 50 or 100 HKD when it gets low. The exchange rate is about 1 CAD to 8 HKD
It was very hot, between 30-35 degrees, and very humid. Luckily I like the heat, but I still used an umbrella when in the sun, as most Chinese people do. It also comes in handy when it rains, which happened a few times while we were there.
Highlights of our trip:
Ocean Park – This is a huge park with an aquarium, a zoo, and rides. It is separated into 2 areas. We went on a Saturday and it got very busy by the afternoon. We got there when it opened and toured the aquarium first, before it got too crowded. It was amazing – the best I’ve ever seen. The zoo was also very good, the pandas were my favorite.
Stanley Market – This is a huge market geared toward tourists, but it is on the south coast of the island near a beach and a nice day trip by bus or taxi. We took the bus from Times Square – it took around 40 min and was a pleasant ride for about 50 cents! Taxis are inexpensive also – a 30 min ride costs about $5. The outside market is all covered and the “stalls” are air-conditioned, so you stay nice and cool. We spent around 3 hours looking at everything for sale. The prices are as good as anywhere else, sometimes better, and the selection is great. Many shops let you bargain. I bought a silk komono for about $18 CAD and my daughter Natalie bought a beautiful painting for about $15 CAD. There are lots of restaurants and a nice walk that leads to a small temple.
|View from Stanley Beach|
|Pier at Stanley Beach|
Lantau Island – Visiting the Big Buddha on Lantau Island is another popular tourist attraction, but we really enjoyed it. Part of the fun is getting to ride a gondola across the ocean and up a mountain! The views are spectacular. The buddha statue really is huge, and before you get to it, you walk thru a little “village” (actually just shops and restaurants, we had a snack at Starbucks!). You soon learn that there are shops everywhere in Hong Kong. Therese bought a beautiful set of chopsticks – the nicest we saw anywhere.
|The gondola ride to Lantau Island|
Hong Kong Park – Located in Central on the Island. We spent around an hour there, strolling around the man-made lake filled with koi and turtles, and admiring the waterfall. We loved the aviary which is huge – it is a screened-in outdoor area filled with all kinds of birds. There was also a conservatory with different kinds of plants including many species of orchids and cacti.
Victoria Park – This is a very large park near Causeway Bay. It is a nice place to get away from the crowds and the air felt cooler and cleaner inside the park. In one corner of the park, there are public outdoor pools. They are open every day except Mondays when they are closed for cleaning. We spent a couple hours relaxing and swimming in the pools one morning. You can use your Octopus card to get in – it costs around 2 CAD. It’s about the only thing I found in Hong Kong that opens before 10:00! More stores are open from 10:30 am to 10:30 pm every day.
Fabric shopping – Luckily I found a blog before I left that talked about where to buy fabric in Hong Kong. This area, near the Sham Shui Po Station, is quite a well-kept secret. To get there, you take the red line of the MTR. From central, it was the seventh stop. Use the Apliu Street exit and turn left (a mall called Dragon Center will be on your right). Walk 1 block and you will come upon an area around 4 blocks x 4 blocks that is filled with wholesale fabric and notion shops. It is amazing! All the shops have cards on the walls with samples on them, but there is very little English here. If you see something you like, you can take the card to the sales person, who will tell you the price. They will give you one price for 3 yards or less, and a lower price for wholesale (usually 50 yd min). You can place an order (a deposit is required) and pick up the fabric in 1-3 days. Right in the middle of this area, on Ki Lung Street, I discovered several tables set up along the road, with bolts of fabric that you could buy yardage from (cash only). I found some beautiful linens, but most of the fabrics were polyester and cotton.
Another place to shop for fabrics is at the Western Market. This is a historic building located in Sheung Wan, exit B. There are mostly silks here, and the sales men are quite aggressive (the opposite of the shops in Sham Shui Po, where they pretty much ignored you). The prices start quite high here, but you can barter.
We also rode a sampan in Aberdeen, took the tram to the Peak and took a ferry to Macau. We discovered “sweet buns” at the small bakeries, great breakfast at Kenon restaurants, good dinners at California Pizza Kitchen on the 14th floor of Times Square, and SML Restaurant (outdoor patio) with 2 for 1 drinks Sunday – Fri on the 12th floor of Times Square.
|View of the City at night from the Peak|
|Famous “Floating Restaurant” in Aberdeen|
I can’t wait to go back one day!