While most tourists prefer to head someplace warm and cozy to escape the cold of winter, I love to do just the opposite and head to Hong Kong. I am strangely drawn to the chill, the rains, and the wind. Besides, I also love the fact that while it is chilly, it does not snow, and no snow means no blizzards which is perfect for me. Hong Kong in winter is a refreshing and wonderful respite after an extended stay in tropical heat where it’s 98 degrees in the shade. Hong Kong winters make a perfect in-between.
Layering the jeans, socks, shoes, long sleeves, sweater, and scarf, one is all set whether it’s late December or early January. The night times are much colder, though. Well, what do you think those funny, multicolored wannabe leggings are for that all the Hong Kong girls wear?
It is amazing shopping in Hong Kong and I am the ultimate ‘chipanga’. The latter is a word I invented for someone who buys cheap. Here’s the thing: when you go to Mongkok, you have to be prepared. You can cut the price in half, and you can get away with it. If the seller sees that you really have a budget that is 1/3 the asking price, you can get that, too. Never give in and buy at the first price. And at most, start at half the asking price, and don’t work up too high till you are ready to buy. I actually succeeded in buying a beautiful panda bear wall hanging originally priced at 400 for 100. So keep in mind that bargaining is part of the fun.
I had been to Hong Kong awhile before when it was under control of the British, both times, in the winter. Times sure have changed since then. When I visited just after Hong Kong was given back to China we were warned to bring out passports with us everywhere because there were supposedly 3000 Chinese policemen dressed as civilians throughout the city who would stop random people to check their ID cards. It was a bit of a scare but the situation has improved since then.
In Hong Kong there are two beautiful bridges that were built when the Chinese took over. One is the Stonecutter’s Bridge and the other is the Tsing Ma Bridge. Both are beautiful. The Tsing Ma is reminiscent of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, but the Stonecutter’s Bridge always left me breathless. It is a high level cable-stayed bridge that is awesome in its grace.
Another interesting place to visit in Hong Kong is Ocean Park. It is on a tall mountain, and you can take a cable car that looks like a bubble to go up. If you happen to be afraid of heights you can opt to take the escalator to the top. It is actually the largest escalator in the world. The marine shows were great, especially the seal show. There were panda bears on display there too.
And then there is Hong Kong Disneyland. It is rather small, so don’t plan to stay more than one day. I personally was thankful that it was a short trip. With just one day in Disneyland, I felt that I had just the right amount of time to cover the whole park. Plus, best of all, though small, what the park offered was top notch. From the time you ride the Mickey Mouse train to the grand entrance to the amazing waterfall of Disney characters with Mickey surfboarding up on a whale’s spout, to a parade at the plaza, everything leaves you breathless. We were told that the shows were the best part and we caught two of the four available.
If you are into Disney or young at heart, then you will enjoy the performances which are, in my opinion, worth the wait. I could go on and on about the high-tech rides, fireworks shows, and fake snow that filled the park. There is one surprising sensory experience after another, and I felt at one point that all of us, all strangers, somehow felt bonded in the happiness and merriment of the moment. New York New Year minus the booze.
Anne Bennett writes for Briefcases Direct, a website that offers luxury briefcases direct from the manufacturer. Anne frequents destinations like China, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Maldives. She currently spends most of her time in Singapore where she can easily start off her journeys to new and exciting destinations.