Kong Kong July 2007

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[edit] July 2007 visit to hong kong

[edit] Highlights

  • Quite hot and humid as you can expect
  • Air is polluted, from the Peak you see a dusty skyline, dust coming from mainland china's factories
  • Public transport system is excellent, given you can read and listen english. Top up card allows to pay for public transport, 7-eleven goods, and various other stores of small goods
  • Hotel situation is difficult, in particular on weekends
  • Wide variety of food, ranging in price and origin and cooking tradition
  • No general 24x7, cut short store times are typical 10 – 10, with some small shops, in particular 7-eleven are open much longer. Banks and other services like pharmacies are closed on some days like sunday, or have limited opening hours

[edit] Places

  • I stayed in 'The Kowloon Hotel'. We paid between 900 and 1100 HKD per night. Rooms were nice, silent, and clean, and I found the rooms a little bit small.
  • I stayed also in the 'Conrad' hotel on Hong Kong Island. Costs were about 2300 HKD per night. Very nice hotel. Nice rooms, outside swimming pool and more fitness facilities. The hotel is directly attached to the 'Pacific' mall, which is directly connected to the Admiralty MTR station.
  • The Peak is a definitive must have.

[edit] Airport to city

The airport express is a very good transport, and I paid in a group of two just 80 HKD single fare from airport to the city. Very convenient and fast, the express brings you either to Kowloon or to the heart of Hong Kong Island, in about 20 minutes, and I waited each trip less than 5 minutes for the next train departure.

[edit] Language

The majority of people have either a chinese or an english background. I looked like the chinese people had and will have a significance, so in many places english is of limited help. Other languages are no good in Hong Kong, as far as I experienced it.

MTR and shopping malls and some sightseeing sites have good english support. Bus and Tram only show end stations in english, and english station names on the stop maps. Drivers typically do not speak good english, but often a desperate traveller will receive support from very helpful citizens who speak both languages. They ask if they can help you with traven questions. Very kind.

[edit] MTR

The MTR or subway or underground system is fast and convenient. You can see in english language where you are, where you go, where to exit on the next stop, what direction of connecting lines on the next stop. You can see and hear the information.

Not to forget, AC is on, and cell phone reception in the station and during the ride.

[edit] Experiences

The people are friendly, and what is very nice as a tourist, not offensive, except for some few indian tailors and watch sellers. Almost no begging, except for some buddhist monks, where I found them also non offensive, and some very few poor people along the street who are passive and non offensive.

Shopping in Hong Kong is typically not a big saver when travelling from europe. Hong Kong is not a poor region, with quite high average yearly income. Together with Hong Kong exposing itself as a central shopping place for south east asia, ther are many shops selling branded goods for original prices. We perceived the variety is comparable to major US and european metropolitan cities. Of course there are also some markets, and you also and still find B-class goods, and brand-piracy for low prices, in particular on the temple street night market.

Cash is Hong Kong Dollar - HKD, where we calculated 10 HKD for 1 EUR. ATMs are all over the place, and if they show the Cirrus, Maestro, Visa, or MasterCard symbol, they take the appropriate cards, so with your typical european debit or credit card to can get cash. As an example we got most cash using our german EC-Karte, as the german EC-Karte cards participate in the Maestro cash machine network. Credit cards are widely accepted, and we even used it to purchase a single bottle of water for 6 HKD in a 7-eleven. You can also use these cards to top up your Octopus card.

Sightseeing is nice, though we did not participated in any organised tours.

We made particular bad experiences with travel guides. The disverhongkong material we received before departing to hong kong were outdated, addresses incorrect, and offered free courses to learn about hong kong and its traditions would have required booking weeks in advanced, which was not mentioned. We also bought a Baedecker guide written in german, and this was the worst disappointment of our whole Hong Kong visit. No mentioning about a tight accommodation situation. Recommendations like the chinese doctors and pharmacies were not as expected when reading the guide. You would have thought these speak and understand english well, so that a european tourist can get a good chinese herbal medical analysis and treatment and medicine. But we found almost no one was speaking english good enough to perform such a service. It made the impression the authors did not exercised what they wrote.

I bought a digital camera in the street next to the ladies market – located near Prince Edward underground transport station. This purchase provided me with two one-month-pay-as-you-go WiFi vouchers from PCCW, a large communication network provider in this region. So we used one of these vouchers to use free Internet at various Starbucks cafe's, experiencing transfer rates with average 50 KB/s, which is similar to exclusive 512 kbit broadband.

I also bought a PCCW sim card at a 7-eleven with some credit, and later topped up using a voucher, to make some phone calls, like booking some hotel rooms for the remainder of the east asia trip.

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