A Taste of Hong Kong


My sister, Danica, and I at the Chi Lin Nunnery with the Nan Lian Gardens golden pagoda behind us

As many of you know, I spent the first 4 months in China without knowing a single other foreigner. Since I was surrounded only by Chinese people in a culture so different from my own, I got pretty lonely at times. I come from a family of 9 so I’ve never really faced a shortage of people to connect and talk with. This was one of the greatest difficulties of my time in China. That’s why I was so excited to see my younger sister, Danica, in Hong Kong.

Let me preface this story by mentioning that I got a really bad fever and sore throat the day before leaving for Hong Kong and I nearly cancelled the trip because I could hardly walk. Earlier that day I made a get well tea that I invented myself. Here’s the recipe:

Take about two pounds of ginger root and grate it. Put it in a pan and fill it with water until it covers the ginger. Bring it to a boil and then strain the juice out. Then add about 1/5 cup honey and 1 tbsp of ground cayenne pepper. If you’re feeling extra crazy you can also add the juice from a few lemons. What you will have is Josh’s Extreme Immune Boosting Dragon Breath Tea (patent pending).

Before I went to bed I drank a large cup of this tea along with a bunch of water, hoping it would do the trick. When I woke up the next morning, I felt much better, but I was definitely still under the weather. Nevertheless, I gathered everything I needed for the trip and headed out.

I don’t want to bore you by consistently talking about how bad I felt throughout the trip, so I’ll just say now that I was sick the entire time and it really limited what we were able to do. So that said, I did what I could to keep my spirits up and we still had a good time exploring and experiencing a little of what Hong Kong has to offer.

After arriving at the Hong Kong airport and going through customs, Danica and I took a bus to our hostel in Kowloon. Upon arriving, we unpacked our things and I started

Enjoying my pizza

Enjoying my pizza

charging the batteries to my camera, which, unfortunately, had no power during the first two days. I then got some much needed rest before dinner time when we’d try to find a place to get good pizza. And I really can’t understate just how much I’ve missed pizza in my time here in China.

After finding the address to the California Pizza Kitchen in Kowloon, we optimistically headed out. A short cab ride later and we had arrived. Although it was a bit pricey, my bbq chicken pizza with avocado was well worth it.

The next day we decided to explore Hong Kong and take a ferry to Lamma Island. On our way, we had Subway sandwiches for the first time since I left America–kinda crazy how they taste exactly the same no matter where in the world you are. Anyway, a simple ferry ride later and we had arrived on Lamma Island.

The main form of transportation on the island are bicycles, and there are no cars other than small delivery vehicles. The quiet atmosphere, low rise buildings and overgrown foliage give the place a peaceful vibe.

This mix of culture and simple living gives the small town a personality that reminded me of cities like Santa Cruz in California. There isn’t an abundance of things to do on Lamma Island, so we just explored around, finding a beach just in time to watch the sunset before heading back to the pier.

Two ferries later and we were back in Kowloon. We walked to Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower to watch the Hong Kong light show that happens every night at 8. Hundreds of people were gathered around to watch the skyline light up across the harbor and it was quite a site.

Afterwards, we found a walking street full of vendors selling all kinds of items to tourists and Danica and I both bought several oil paintings. I spent around 100 USD on the 5 paintings. All of which are incredibly detailed.

The next morning in our hostel, we met a young Israeli lady named Mor, who also happens to teach English in China. The 3 of us explored together, first to the Chi Lin Nunnery, and then to the Tian Tan Buddha statue. My batteries were finally ready to go in my camera, so I was grateful to be able to capture both of these beautiful places.

To get up to the Chi Lin Nunnery, you must pass through the winding paths of Nan Lian Garden, which has immaculately manicured greenery and water features everywhere you look. The whole complex has a tranquil atmosphere which contrasts with the urban jungle of the surrounding city.

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The first courtyard of the nunnery has a lotus garden that leads to the Hall of the Celestial Kings, which contain various statues of Buddha and his disciples. The temple dates back to the 1930s, but incredibly enough, it was rebuilt in 1998 entirely out of wood in a style from the Tang Dynasty–without using a single nail. I highly recommend visiting this Buddhist nunnery to anyone visiting Hong Kong.

After spending a few hours at the nunnery, we made our way to the subway station so we could make it to the sitting Buddha statue all the way over on Lantau Island.

The Tian Tan Buddha was the largest sitting Buddha statue in the world when it was completed in 1993. It’s 112 ft. tall including the lotus he’s sitting on and weighs 250 metric tons. It takes a while to get to it from Hong Kong, but it’s well worth the subway rides, cable car, and 268 steps to arrive at the base of the statue.

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I thoroughly enjoyed being up in the mountains again since we have none near Hefei and my lungs thanked me for filling them with fresh air. The views around the statue are incredible and our trip to Hong Kong would have been incomplete without visiting the Tian Tan Buddha.

This concludes part 2 of my 3-part series of adventures this year. The last one just may eclipse the first two with the amount of wild adventure that I experienced during Chinese New Year. It’s a bit late, but I promise I’ll have it up within a week. All those photos take quite a while to upload through my VPN.

Until then, cheers and thanks for reading!