Mong Kok neighborhood
I’m staying in the Mong Kok neighborhood at the Hilton Garden Inn. It’s quite an eclectic neighborhood and what I would expect of traditional markets and residential high rises of Hong Kong. It’s a mixture of new meets old every corner you turn and the old traditions seem to be revered and these markets are necessary to make the economy work. This neighborhood isn’t always manicured and pretty but it’s full of charm and tradition, and don’t forget the smells of the never-ending stalls of food offered. Notice the scaffolding is made of bamboo which is plentiful around here.
I headed out this morning to visit a lot of markets… who knew there was such a thing as the Goldfish Market but there is.
First stop was the Goldfish Market which has every kind of goldfish available for purchase along with aquarium products. It was interesting to see but I wouldn’t go out of your way to go there unless you have a specific interest in aquariums and goldfish. No photos of this market as the store owners did not allow photos.
Next stop was the Ladies Market which is a few blocks of stalls selling clothes and accessories for the ladies.
Next stop was the Flower Market which is a couple blocks of fresh flowers at numerous flower boutiques for sale. The street smelled good and the workers were working hard to deliver all of these flowers for the day’s sale.
Next stop was the Yuen Po Bird Garden… it’s a pretty park with a bunch of stalls selling bird cages, bird supplies, and a varying selection of birds. If you need anything for your pet bird, this is where you come to shop.
Wong Tai Sin, a Taoist Temple
I had read about this Taoist temple and wanted to visit. It was a few subway stops to get there but it was well worth it. It was very touristy but it’s still used by the local people for worshipping. Taoist temples are much more ornate than Buddhist temples. There’s a big difference between Taoist and Buddhist as I’ve learned. The grounds of the temple were expansive and impressive.
Chi Lin Nunnery… this is a “must see”
So I almost didn’t go to the nunnery as the map made it look very inconvenient and it was listed in my guidebook as an “if you have time”. Luckily I went ahead and went as it was one subway stop from Wong Tai Sin and I am so glad I did.
This place was impressive and not nearly as touristy. A special bonus was a special exhibit of Bonsai trees going on… who doesn’t love a Bonsai tree. The Buddha statues were impressive within the shrines but no photos were allowed (as I was reminded by security, but I got one). Also it’s easy to get here by following the signs out of the subway… it’s no more than a 10 minute walk from the subway station. Notice all of the high-rise buildings in the background of these photos… it’s amazing how many high rise apartment buildings are in Hong Kong and they are tall.
Extra Bonus Next Door: Nan Lian Garden
As if the nunnery wasn’t impressive enough, the Nan Lian Garden is connected by footbridge to the nunnery. This garden is impressive and you should make the time to visit. There’s even a restaurant behind the waterfalls that looked like a fun experience but I had already had lunch. Also the nunnery and gardens are all free.
Temple Street/Tin Hau Temple
I headed down to the Temple Street area as there is a well-known market here called the Temple Street Market and is geared towards men’s goods. I got to the market a bit early and after so many markets already explored, I did a quick walk through of this market as the shopkeepers were starting to set up. There are a lot of stalls here and not a lot of room to maneuver around so I decided to pass this up when it really geared up later in the evening.
I did visit the Tin Hau Temple which can be found at the end of Temple Street. It has a nice public park around it and you can tell there are some “locals” that hang out on the benches everyday.
Famous Hong Kong Skyline
After a long day of walking, it was time for another foot massage. It was funny because I was trying to steal some Wi-Fi off of a McDonald’s to do a quick search and unbeknownst to me I had stopped right in front of a foot spa place. This one was cheaper than a couple of days ago and certainly helped me walk more to the waterfront.
I finally made it down to the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade right along the Victoria Harbor with a spectacular view of Hong Kong Island’s skyline.
I had reservations for a harbor cruise that would allow me to see the Symphony of Lights from the middle of the harbor. It’s a nice laser show pared with music that lasts about 10 minutes and takes place every night. It was cool to see (once). Here’s a clip of the laser show.
After a quick stop at The Peninsula hotel to see what all of the hype is about, it was time to go back to my hotel and get ready for my trip to Kuala Lumpur. I had a great time visiting Hong Kong and there is so much more to do than what I did. I’ll be back one day.