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Archive for July, 2012


Just as Hong Kong is an independent territory of China, so too is the lesser known island of Macau. Macau was a territory of Portugal until 1999, when it was gifted back under the agreement that it would retain independence until 2049. Macau has many casinos, and is known as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient.” While the casinos have their own appeal, I was most interested in the Portuguese architecture and influences.

Macau is a 45-50 minute ferry ride from Kowloon. I walked to the ferry from my hostel and found my passport stamped out of Hong Kong. Because each island is an independent region, they each retain their own currencies, passports, and borders. Although Macau retains its own currency, Hong Kong dollars are widely accepted.

                                                                                                                           On the ferry.

                                                                                                                 Macau welcomes you!

                                                                                                                    My ride, a tri-shaw!

                                       The Statue of Guanyin, a blend between the traditional images of the bodhisattva Guanyin and Holy Mary.

Macau Tower

Some of the Casinos

The view from Macau Tower.

For the extremely adventurous, Macau Tower offers bungee jumping and tower walks.

We stopped at A-Ma Temple, which is the most unusual and coolest temple I have seen in Asia so far.

A-Ma is incredibly old.

These are giant incense cones. They were hanging everywhere, and the smoke and scent were hanging in the air. It was incredible!

People were also lighting very large incense sticks.

I spent a great deal of time climbing around A-Ma taking pictures. Afterwards, I wandered around the pretty square in front of the temple.

The Cathedral was ruined long ago during a fire so only the facade remains.

Above Sao Paulo is the old fort.

The walk up is really beautiful.

I loved that this cannon was aimed right at the Bellagio.

After I finished exploring the fort, I walked around the older Portuguese part of town.

I sampled some of the traditional Portuguese food. These are egg tarts. They were amazing! There were also many vendors selling many different varieties of jerky. There were some flavors that were really spicy, and some that were sweet. This was the best jerky I have ever tried, and all of the vendors give free samples. I wanted to buy some to bring back for my friends, but I was worried about clearing three sets of customs with it.

Beautiful tiled streets and architecture!

I decided to stop for lunch and had to try another famous dish: the pork chop bun. I also tried the chrysanthemum honey tea. A perfect way to escape the heat and humidity!

Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple

I aimlessly wandered streets, and found a small square that was full of murals. Those who know me well know how much I love murals and street art. I was thrilled to find this little hidden gem!

I had never seen a pipe made out of bamboo and a tin can before.

Water closet for puppies….

The egg custard in Macau is also famous. I took one bite of this one and threw it away.

I had seen most of what Macau had to offer aside from the casinos. Because it was so hot and humid, I decided to head back to Hong Kong. It was lucky that I went back to the ferry terminal when I did. Most of the ferries had already sold out, and the only economy class tickets left were for after midnight. I ended up paying a little extra for first class so I could leave by 6:00. The only difference between the tickets was that I sat on the top deck, had a larger seat, and they provided dinner (a sandwich and some fruit). I would advise buying your return ticket to Hong Kong when you arrive in Macau if you plan to stay only one day. You can see pretty much all of Macau if you are not interested in gambling. If you do want to gamble, Macau is the world’s largest gambling hub.

After I returned to Hong Kong, I decided to see the regular Symphony of Lights show.

Stay tuned for Day 3 and my visit to the Tian Tan Buddha and Tai O Fishing Village!

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I had a five-day weekend and decided to take a break from Korea by traveling to Hong Kong and Macau. I had a couple of friends who really wanted to go too, but unfortunately they were not able to financially. I set off, all alone, on my adventure.

I caught the limousine bus at the Core Hotel in Jeonju at 3:30 in the morning en route to Gimpo airport. I flew Air China, and it was smooth sailing until my five and a half hour lay over in Beijing. While in Beijing, you have to go through immigration and security just to change gates. This was no big deal since I had such a long layover, but this does come into play on the return flight. I wandered around the airport, grabbed some coffee, and waited. Suddenly, there was a commotion in Chinese and a sign was posted:

There was a typhoon hitting Hong Kong, so our flight was delayed for two hours.

Luckily, Beijing has a really beautiful airport, so I wandered around and took some pictures:

Finally, we boarded for Hong Kong! I arrived and caught a bus to my Hostel on Kowloon Island.

Since Britain occupied Hong Kong from 1842 to 1997, Hong Kong has many Britishes influences. This double-decker bus is one example. I arrived at my hostel, and wasn’t sure what to think:

I wasn’t sure if I was finding my room, or entering a cage match. There were also a lot of Indian touts near the hostel. By day, they try to sell you knock-off handbags and watches. By night, they are selling hash.

I grabbed a quick dinner and wandered around the area. Kowloon is a very busy area. There are tons of restaurants, shops, and very high-end stores such as Tiffany’s, Armani Exchange and Rolex. I enjoyed wandering around, but because I had arrived so late I decided to call it a night so I could get an early start the next morning.

The following morning, I grabbed coffee and decided to find the Avenue of Stars and catch my first view of Hong Hong’s famous skyline.

The Avenue of Stars is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame only with prominent actors and directors from the Hong Kong film industry.

Probably the most famous icon of Hong Kong: Bruce Lee.

After I wandered around the waterfront, I decided to take a tour of the different islands. For a pretty small fee (about $50.00 USD) you can take a double-decker bus tour of three of the islands: Kowloon, Stanley, and Hong Kong Island. I decided that this would be a really great way to acclimate myself to the area before taking the subways and ferry’s on my own to some of the things I wanted to see. The tours allowed you to hop on and off at your leisure, and included a ticket for the Star Ferry and Victoria Peak.

View from a double-decker bus.

Golden Bauhinia Square

China’s Central Government presented a gilded Bauhinia statue to Hong Kong in celebration of the return of Hong Kong, the former British colony, to the People’s Republic of China.

I couldn’t get over the beautiful sky or architecture!

Trolley ride to The Peak.

I’m not nearly as good at the self-portrait as my Korean counterparts!

Dragon Pagoda

Beautiful shaded walks along The Peak.

The trolley ride down the mountain.

Man Mo Temple, a tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo).

This photo, as well as the following, were all taken on Stanley Island. Stanley Island s home to Repulse Bay, and is the area that the pirates inhabited long ago. This area, as well as Victoria Peak, have some of the most stunning views, and ridculously high real estate values.

Onboard the Star Ferry, crossing from Hong Kong Island back to Kowloon. I arrived early to the Victoria Harbour waterfront in order to see the nightly Symphony of lights. When I arrived, there were huge crowds already forming.

I wasn’t sure what was happening until someone explained that it was the 15th anniversary of independence from the British. In celebration, Hong Kong was having a huge fireworks show in conjunction with their normal light show. There was press there from all over the world, including a team from National Geographic! I felt very lucky to have been there, especially since I had no knowledge or plans of seeing this. I love happy travel accidents!

After the show, I wandered around Tsim Sha Tsui.

Timeless!
I could not escape the Korea! It was everywhere!
See what I mean? I did not eat Korean food while I was in Hong Kong. I settled in for a wonderful Indian dinner. Afterwards, I saw a Vietnamese restaurant above my Indian place, and went for coffee. My friend Jacob had told me about Vietnamese coffee, and the special way they prepare it. They fill the cup with a good amount of sweetened condensed milk, and then have a special drip that fits right on the cup. The coffee is really strong, and very sweet and delicious!
Stay tuned for days two and three, in which I take a side trip to Macau, and visit the Tian Tan Buddha!

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