Exploring Hong Kong’s Culture and Cuisine

When we would tell people where we were going before we left for this trip, they would say “Really Hong Kong? What made you choose there?” At first, the reason was that I had never been to Asia before and we had to fly through there to get home, but as it researched what to do in Hong Kong the more intrigued I became. If you have seen pictures of the Maldives, that’s the main reason we went there.

Sorry it has been a few days since I posted. When you own a house and are gone for 2+ weeks, there is a lot to do when you get back! We left off at the Male airport just before 1 AM about to board our flight.

Male to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

The boarding process was a little different than anywhere I’ve been except one time at London Heathrow. You gave your boarding pass then went into another room and waited 15 minutes for actual boarding. Boarding was smooth; we had the two middle seats in row 14 on the Airbus A330. I took a look at the menu and was going to order food, but I decided to get a few hours sleep to make the most of our short time in Hong Kong. Mallory and I both slept for the vast majority of this flight, so I don’t have a lot to say about Cathay Pacific’s Business class product here but will have more to say on our journey home.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Male to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Male to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Male to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Male to Hong Kong

We landed in Hong Kong just before 8 AM breezed through immigration and were on our way into Kowloon to our hotel the Sheraton Hong Kong. We got to the hotel, and our room wasn’t quite ready so we had breakfast and did a little exploring. They had our room ready by 10 AM, so we were able to get a much-needed shower before we set off to see the city. We got one of the hotel’s Harbour View Suites which gave some really beautiful views of Hong Kong’s central district across the harbour, especially at night.

Getting Around Hong Kong

Something that I wish we would have done earlier in our stay in Hong Kong was getting an “octopus” card, the pre-paid, refillable metro card. The octopus makes it very easy to hop on and off the metro. I haven’t been on too many metro or subway systems, but I have to say the Hong Kong MTI was by far the cleanest and most efficient I have experienced. For most of our adventures in Hong Kong we either walked or took the metro.

Hong Kong: The Culture

We wanted to experience some of the culture since it was both Mallory and My first time in Asia. The first day we went to Sha Tin Buddhist Monastery (Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery). This monastery was north of Kowloon in the new territories. The trek began with a long winding path up the hill. The route was lined on both sides more than 500 Arhat statues each one different than all the others. Unlike some of the other monasteries in the area, this one did not have resident monks, although we did see a couple on our way back down the hill.

Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
The beginning of our trek up the hill
Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
Hundreds of Statues lined the path of our trek to the Sha Tin Monastery

 

Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
A close up of one of the statues
Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
Some of the statues were very unique like the one with a long arm here
Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
An incredible amount of detail on all of the buildings on the monastery grounds

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Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
A pagoda from the bottom of the hill
Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
One of the smaller temples

 

View from Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
View from the top of the hill

 

Watch out for monkeys!
Watch out for monkeys!
Arhat Statue Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
One of the Arhat Statues

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The Pagoda Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
The Pagoda
Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas Sha Tin Monastery Hong Kong
Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Hong Kong
Monkey in Hong Kong
There really were monkeys there!

On our second day, we went to Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha) and the Po Lin monastery. Tian Tan Buddha is the second tallest sitting Buddha in the world and can be seen all the way from 38 km away in Macau on a clear day. To get to Tian Tan Buddha you can either take a bus or the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to the Ngong Ping village; we opted for the cable car to have a chance to see more of the surrounding area. After about a 20-minute ride with 360-degree panoramic views we were at the Ngong Ping village, a little town at the top of the hill with shops selling souvenirs, clothes, and jewelry. To get to the Big Buddha, you must climb 268 steps to reach the base platform where the statues of the “Offerings of the Six Devas” are located. For a small donation, 77 HK$ for both Mallory and myself, which is about $10, we were able to go inside the Buddha and see a relic of Gautama Buddha. With this donation, we were also given a meal ticket to get a vegetarian lunch at the monastery. The monastery was beautiful and had some very detailed architecture. This monastery, unlike the one we visited the day before, had Buddhist monks around and many people would go up to them and say something, maybe asking for a blessing. After we ate and looked around the monastery a little more, we got back on the metro and went back towards our hotel. Hong Kong also has a wonderful culture of embracing street art, and the beautiful murals can be found all over the city.

Ngong Ping 360 Car
Ngong Ping 360 Car
Cable Cars
Cable Cars in Hong Kong on the way to Big Buddha
Big Buddha Hong Kong
Big Buddha from our cable car
Cows in Hong Kong
There were cows roaming around Ngong Ping Village
Tian TIan Buddha Hong Kong
Mallory in front of the Buddha
Po Lin Monastery Hong Kong
Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong
Po Lin Monastery Main Temple Hong Kong
Its amazing how much detail the Po Lin Monastery Main Temple has

 

Offerings of the Six Devas Hong Kong
One of the Offerings of the Six Devas
Offerings of the Six Devas below Big Buddha Hong Kong
Offerings of the Six Devas below Big Buddha
Some beautiful detail Po Lin Monastery Hong Kong
Some beautiful detail

 

Shopping in Hong Kong

Something we were told we HAVE to check out is the Mong Kok Ladies’ Market. A stretch of road about 1 km long lined with over 100 stalls with people selling EVERYTHING. You could buy clothes, copy purses, copy watches, shoes, jewelry, souvenirs, even electronics. It was a very overwhelming experience because for the whole km you have people asking you to come in and look at their stuff. If you ever go to the ladies’ market be ready to negotiate because nothing goes for the original price they tell you!

Hong Kong: The Food

Mallory and I were both admittedly nervous about the food in Hong Kong, but turns out it’s FANTASTIC! Although our sample size is small, every meal and snack we had in Hong Kong was excellent. Our first night we had a selection of tapas at Ozone, the highest bar in the world on the 118th floor of the International Commerce Building in Kowloon.

Hong Kong's skyline from our hotel room
Hong Kong’s skyline from our hotel room

Our last night in Hong Kong we ate at the 3 Michelin Starred l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and while it lasted a little longer than we wanted, we both left satisfied. Mallory was braver than I was and even tried some street food after we walked through the ladies’ market. Next time I go back to Hong Kong I think I would like to take one of the food tours of Hong Kong to get a chance to try some more local cuisine.

Mallory ordering
Mallory ordering
Octopus on a stick
Octopus on a stick

Although our time in Hong Kong was too short, we made the most of it and experienced a lot of what the city has to offer. I really enjoyed our time there and will be back! We are now at the end of our vacation, and it is time to head home. Up next in Around the World in 10 days – Getting Home.

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