Hong Kong

By Donna Van Buren – AmeriSpan Staff

Busy, peaceful, chaotic, serene, energized, playful, relaxed, modern, traditional, and …
These are all words I used in postcards sent to family and friends on my visit to Hong Kong. This was my 1st adventure in Asia and it was a good choice. Without a guidebook, or even an itinerary, my friend and I didn't know what to expect of Hong Kong. We only knew that we would be going to the Hong Kong Disneyworld, which had opened just weeks before our arrival. Upon landing, we grabbed the free tourist brochure in the airport and found more to do than we had time for.
From the minute you arrive, you can see that Hong Kong has an excellent transportation system, linking all the main islands. From the airport, it's a matter of minutes before you arrive in the center of the most popular islands, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. My friend and I also found a free shuttle bus to our hotel when we got off. There are links off the main subways lines to special attractions too. You can quickly arrive at the new Skyrail station to zip over to Lantau Island. There is even a special line for Hong Kong Disney. The windows and hand straps of the train are shaped like Mickey Mouse! And don't forget to make time to take the special Peak Tram up to the top of Victoria Peak for a spectacular aerial view of Hong Kong.
The busy, chaotic, modern, and energized Hong Kong is visible almost everywhere, but can mostly be seen when shopping in one of the many markets around the islands. Kowloon Island is filled with markets, both day and night. The Temple Street Night Market is packed with sellers hawking traditional Asian crafts, while Nathan Road is bustling with flashy shops showcasing trendy items. And when in Kowloon at night, make sure to stop by Victoria Harbour. Stroll down the Avenue of Stars and find your favorite Asian celebrity on this walk-of-fame while you watch the Symphony of Lights show illuminates the high-rise buildings of Victoria Harbour. My friend and I liked the show so much we went back every night.
When my friend and I were tired of the lively city life, we headed out to Lantau Island. There you find the more relaxing, peaceful, and traditional Hong Kong. The Giant Buddha statue on Lantau is the most visible attraction there. Being the largest outdoor Buddha in the world, he can be seen from almost anywhere. It is also possible to venture up more than 250 steps to the top of the Buddha for a view of the calming Po Lin Monastery below. My friend and I followed a trail marked ‘Wisdom Path' and found ourselves in a field contemplating the wood pillars in front of us, placed to form an infinity ring.
There are a lot of components that make modern day Hong Kong tick. These were my favorite discoveries on this diverse group of islands, where the modern connivances of the world meet traditional Asia.

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