Monday, May 29, 2017

Hong Kong {Tai Long Wan Beach & Macau - Days 3 & 4}

Hong Kong isn't really know for it's beautiful beaches, but it really should be. We knew the subway/bus/taxi/hike to Tai Long Wan Beach was a bit of a trek, but we were so glad we made the trip! For anyone interested, I'll be glad to tell you the route we took (which was as easy as possible!), but I won't bore everyone here.

Needless to say, it was an early morning. We started our hike at the end of the road (literally) in Sai Kung. The hike to the first beach took about 45 minutes. 

We didn't really pause here for long, hearing that the later beaches were less crowded and more beautiful. The steps to the second beach were no joke - it wasn't more than a mile, but was basically straight up hill and then right back downhill. Once we arrived, we grabbed lunch (and arranged our ferry back) at Ham Tin Wai. The food was delicious!

We booked a return ferry 3 or 4 hours later so that we were able to just relax and enjoy the reward of our hike - the beautiful beach! The ferry back was incredibly scenic and we got dropped off right at the bus terminal!

That evening, we took it easy in our hotel lounge and made our plans for the next day. Waking up bright and early, we purchased tickets on the Cotiajet ferry to Macau. It was less than an hour ferry and a quick jaunt through Customs and we were on our way to the Venetian hotel. Jason gambled a bit, I shopped a bit, but my favorite part was eating Lord Stowe's Egg Tarts and drinking some delicious milk tea!

We made the quick walk over to the Taipa area and ate some pork buns at Tai Lei Loi Kei, sampled some biscuits at Fong Kei and wandered around the Portuguese-influenced streets. I honestly loved all of the cute pink buildings (pink because apparently red is the cheapest paint color to mix with white?).

We caught a quick taxi to the area near the ruins of St. Paul's. We didn't stay long though because it was honestly SO hot/humid. I was seriously craving a glass of wine - and we turned a corner and found an amazing wine shop called House of Beijo. There, we chatted with the owner, Gordon, for HOURS while he poured us wine after wine. We even got the chance to try some porto!

It was one of those perfect-travel memories when everything kind of just comes together. We had other plans for the evening, but happily skipped them. We took a cab back to the ferry terminal and (very sleepily) made our way back to Hong Kong. We were hoping to just standby to catch an earlier ferry, but someone was hoping to exchange their earlier tickets for our later ones - SURE?

With the exception of the horrendous immigration lines to get back into Hong Kong, it really was a perfect day! 

Up Next: Dragon's Back Hike, Harbor Boat Ride and a Food Tour - Days 5 & 6!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hong Kong {Big Buddha and Victoria Peak - Days 1 & 2}

We had a really early morning out of Houston (with a layover in DFW), but luckily we had a row to ourselves and were able to stretch out and sleep for a while during our 16+hour flight! We arrived in Hong Kong a little ahead of schedule and took the Airport Express into town. We had also purchased an Oyster Card, so we were able to take the metro from the main station to the station with our hotel - Admiralty! 

We checked into our hotel (The JW Marriott - I can't recommend highly enough) and decompressed a bit. We also took advantage of the executive lounge and grabbed a few drinks before dinner.

Our first stop was Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po (there are a few locations around town). It is one of the cheapest Michelin-rated restaurants in the world! We got a spread of dim sum including BBQ pork buns (favorite!), fresh shrimp siu mai, turnip cakes, steamed beef balls, and pan fried leek dumplings. It was an absolute feast for about $12! Afterwards, we walked around Temple Street Night market for a bit before we crashed for the night.

The next morning, we took a train out to Lantau Island. Unfortunately the cable car system was down for maintenance (for 6 months! Ah!) and we had to catch a bus up to the top of the island to see the Tian Tan Buddha (aka Big Buddha). It only took about 45 minutes (vs. the 30 for the cable car), but it was much less scenic! We also got caught in a bus with a gigantic hornet on the way down, so that made our drive a bit more interesting. The driver had to pull over to kill this thing that was probably bigger than my thumb - yikes.

We climbed to the top to see the Buddha, walked around the Wisdom Path and then wandered around Po Lin Monastery. We had worked up an appetite, so we grabbed a set lunch at the monastery. It was one of the best vegetarian meals we've ever had! 

After lunch, we went to the back of the monastery and listened to the monks chanting for quite a while. It was very relaxing to listen to, the weather was perfect - it was just a really great afternoon. It was also close to Buddha's birthday, so they had a ceremony to bathe the Buddha - see a picture of me taking part below!

That evening, we hung out in the executive lounge (you'll find this is a trend...) and had some amazing (and free!) food and drinks. We ended up taking a taxi to Victoria Peak as the line for the tram was seriously insane. We found a more secluded path off and hiked around the peak. We stopped in time to watch the light show before we headed back down the peak and called it a night! Great first (real) day in Hong Kong!

Next up: Our trip to Tai Long Wan Beach and Macau!