Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Family Visitations Part 1

My Japanese family came to visit! It was only for a short weekend, but we tried to fill it up as much as we could.
The first thing I did was go to pick them up at the airport via bus. I figured being in the very front seat of the top of a double-decker bus would have a great view.

And indeed it did. Wow.
Once together, we checked in at an amazing hotel. I felt slightly out of place because of all the grandeur. The view from the room was absolutely worth it.

Casually watched some boats go by.
As often is the case with Hong Kong, the view at night was even better, although the flashing lights from all the buildings made it a little bit difficult to fall asleep.

The evening was spent walking along the Avenue of Stars right outside and admiring the big names.

Unsurprisingly, Jackie Chan's hands are far bigger than my sister's.
The following day, we went to the locals' favorite amusement park - Ocean Park! My Hong Kong friends had all told me that it was far better than Disneyland, so I trusted their judgement. I sure am glad that I did. The line for the shuttle bus to the park was long enough that it literally wrapped around an entire office building, but we made it eventually.

This park had roller coasters, pandas, theme rides, carnival stands, aquarium shows, gondolas...you name it. And it is very large -  large enough to cover an entire mountainside and its surrounding areas. There's even a subterranean ride that goes under the mountain to get from one side of the park to the other. Not only the size, but the sheer amount of cute and cuddly animals everywhere was wonderful.

Pygmy Marmoset!

Arctic Fox!
And much much more. I had so much fun that I forgot to take more pictures! Bit by bit, we made our way along through arctic escapades, dolphin shows, and jungle adventures. At the end, we made our way out of the park via gondola.

After picking up some egg tarts and macarons first of course.
We finished up the day with a lovely dinner at a Cantonese restaurant, admiring the waterfront at night from the hotel lobby, and some late-night swimming in the hotel pool.

My family left the next day, but before going to the airport, we made a quick run over to the top of Victoria's Peak (something that every visitor to Hong Kong should do.)

Despite the warm weather, it was quite windy.
A trip to Hong Kong would also not be complete without the amazing meal of dim sum (otherwise known as yam cha).

15 plates to share among 4 people. Absolute heaven.
All in all, I think everybody enjoyed the trip. We parted ways at the airport - my family back to Japan, and me back to continue my adventures here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Solo Adventuring in Central, PolyU Sports Festival and Hiking along a Dragon's Back

I had a free Wednesday, so I figured a long-overdue visit to Victoria's Peak was in order. This mountain that overlooks all of Kowloon is actually across the water on Hong Kong Island. There are buses and roads that lead to the top, but the most popular option was by the Peak Tram.

A short 10 minutes of intense uphill traversing later, I arrived at the station at the top, which was built into a massive mall with a bunch of stores, including a...

The roof of the building had the best view (although I had to pay to see it).

If I looked closely, I could find my school.
The view to the other side had less buildings but just as good a view.

Across the water is Macao...?
While at the top, I noticed an interesting looking building.

So I went to check it out.

Lion roar!
After that, I descended the mountain. With some last bit of wandering around a park, I concluded my day in Central.

Fountains are always nice.

Every year, Hong Kong PolyU holds a school-wide festival in which all the different clubs and sports teams try to draw in new members. The choir clubs set up speakers and sang outside the buildings, the hiking clubs displayed pictures of different club trips, and the martial arts teams showed off their jump-kicking skills.

As a temporary member of the karate team, I wanted to join in with the performances, but I unfortunately had a small cold I was getting over. It was definitely fun to watch everybody get hyped though.

The next day, I managed to make a full recovery and decided to go hiking to celebrate. Like most of my time spent so far in Hong Kong, the weather was absolutely beautiful (and maybe on the hot side), and so the views proved to be just the same.

 To the dragon's back!
The water was blue.
The view ahead.
And the mountains were green.
The view behind.
Ah, nature.
All in all, the hike took about 3 hours, and really wasn't that hard. I definitely recommend it for some fairly light but sweat-inducing adventuring outside the city. My hiking mates and I celebrated the end of our fun journey with some delicious ramen.