Fascinating Hong Kong, by Ted Cookson

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FASCINATING HONG KONG
by Ted Cookson
Published in April 2006
Star Ferry, 21-second video clip
Victoria Harbor, 36-second video clip
View from the Peak #1, 29-second video clip
View from the Peak #2, 36-second video clip
Peak tram arriving at Lower Peak Tram Station, 31-second video clip
Peak tram departing from Lower Peak Tram Station, 49-second video clip
 

Hong Kong offers a bit of sightseeing and shopping within its 1,049 square km, and it is a perfect jumping-off point for China.

A ride up the Peak, whether by tram or by bus, is a must for every tourist.  In good weather the view from the top is incredible.  Hong Kong Harbor and several of the outlying islands are all clearly visible.  The Peak itself is an exclusive residential suburb which boasts a number of mansions.  There is also a scenic shopping mall there called Peak Tower.  In order to withstand high winds, only one-third of this structure was built above ground.  The Peak Tower is 400 meters above the harbor.

Below the Peak is Central, the crowded downtown district where many banks, office skyscrapers, and shops are located.  On the back side of Hong Kong Island is Aberdeen, home to houseboats and floating restaurants.  Farther on is the trendy beach at Repulse Bay and then Stanley Market where bargain hunters can haggle for deals.

Kowloon, on the mainland directly opposite Hong Kong Island, is also a bustling district.  Kowloon's busiest area is known as Tsimshatsui.  Here traffic is thick and the neon is always bright.  Luxury cruise ships large and small dock at Kowloon's Ocean Terminal.  Nearby is the Peninsula Hotel, one of the finest in the world.  The Peninsula opened in the 1920s and today provides what is perhaps the most opulent accommodation in Hong Kong.  Just a block away is the Star Ferry dock.  The Star Ferry connects Kowloon with Hong Kong Island.  Ferries depart every few minutes and the fare is nominal.

While Cantonese food predominates in Hong Kong, the choice of restaurants is tremendous.  Similarly, there is much variety in terms of entertainment; and Chinese art and antiquities are seen in many shops.  

While shopping is good in Hong Kong, the best prices are probably to be found at Shenzhen, located 35 km away in China proper, just across the Shenzhen River from Hong Kong.  There a five-story shopping center bursts with many types of fashions and accessories and also a few electronics items.  Shenzhen can be reached by rail in just 45 minutes from Kowloon.  Then one simply walks across the border via covered bridge to the shipping center, which is not far from the immigration building.  A Chinese tourist visa is required in order to cross this border.

Another popular day trip is to Macao, which was one of the first European settlements in East Asia.  The hydrofoil from Hong Kong to Macao takes just 75 minutes, while the same trip by ferry can last up to three hours.  The sixteenth- to eighteenth-century Portuguese architecture in Macao's baroque churches and old mansions is striking.  The cobbled streets also serve to remind the visitor that he is experiencing a bit of southern Europe in China!

PRACTICALITIES: 

The very best time to visit Hong Kong, Macao and China's southeastern provinces is during the period between mid-September and the end of December.  During this season the weather is mild and it is dry.  In October, November and December the humidity is less than in September.

The next best time to visit this region is March and April.  Then it is warm and there is only a bit of rain.  The rainy season, when it is also hot and sticky, lasts from May until early September.  


ABOUT TED COOKSON:  Egypt's most widely-traveled travel agent, Ted has been to every country in the world!  He has also visited 307 of the 315 destinations on the list of the Travelers' Century Club (visit www.eptours.com and refer to World Travel Club).  A travel agent in Cairo since 1986, Ted manages EGYPT PANORAMA TOURS, a full-service travel agency, at 4 Road 79 (between Roads 9 and 10, near the "El Maadi" metro station) in Maadi.  Contact Egypt Panorama Tours (open 7 days a week 9 AM-5 PM) at:  Tels. 2359-0200, 2358-5880, 2359-1301.  Fax 2359-1199.  E-mail:  ept@link.net.  Web site:  www.eptours.com
 

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