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I just got back from a fruitful trip at Hong Kong! I was there a few years back, but I must say Hong Kong has changed a fair bit, and it is better now. I don't know if people still have the idea that HK is a dirty place with litter all over the floor or something, but if you do, I must say you have to change your perception. It wasn't too bad when I was there a few years back and it's even better now!
Like what tinkerbell said, their train system is very similar to what we have in Singapore. After coming back from HK, I realized that it does make a difference when instructions were given in 3 different languages, rather than just English (like in singapore). Also, it was very easy to figure out where you are by looking at the map on the train, which indicates where you are through little blinking lights.
On the whole, it's not just on the train where they give instructions. Even at the escalators in the train station, you will hear reminders to hold on to the handrail for your own safety, all given in Chinese, English and Cantonese. The lift of the hotel I stayed at would also tell you which floor you're at and all. I feel that much thought has been put in to create a user-friendly environment for everyone, even handicaps.
Nonetheless, I felt that the walking distance from the entrance to the MTR was pretty far for most places. I guess you can't help it when the place is big. And train stations were always packed, people had to really squeeze in the trains. It's worse than during the knock-off time in Singapore and it's harder to get seats.
Also, transportation is more expensive in HK. Could also be due to the location the train system covers. If you cross over to another island, it's like having to pay a toll fee, your ride could cost you more than S$2.20. Bus rides could be about S$1 too. But if you're going from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central, you could try taking the ferry instead. It's cheaper and you get to avoid the crowd at the train station.
As for shopping, there are many huuuuuge malls in HK. However, many of these malls are like Paragon - yes, the up-market place. But if you were to go during the November period, where they're clearing the summer clothes to make space for winter stuff, you might get quite a good buy at these shops. Unlike Singapore, you seldom get deals like 30% off at shops like Morgan or even up to 70% at other shops. I must say after the discount, it's a really good buy. Even certain shops like Nike and Esprit are cheaper there, probably also due to the exchange rate, putting us at an advantage.
Nonetheless, we're often looking for cheaper stuff when we're shopping right. And so, I don't suggest that you go to the big malls around. As mentioned above, Li Yuen Street at Central would be a good place to go. But some other possible places to go would also be Stanley Market, near Repulse Bay. It's a bit more expensive than Li Yuen, but for some places bargaining is still possible. However, these places are mostly good for shopping for women only. Some other places to explore could be the little shop units along the street of Tsim Sha Tsui (for the slightly cheaper things) and Causeway Bay (definitely more expensive).
I used to hear that shop owners in HK don't like people touching their things unless they're going to buy. But I don't think that they are like that now. They're much friendlier, especially the younger people. The service of the sales people there are better than in Singapore too. Especially in shops with their own fitting room, they would offer to take your clothes to the fitting room while you're still scouting for other clothes. Frees your hands for more! And most places I went didn't seem to have a limit to how many clothes you could try. It's a little different though, because the malls are seldom fully packed like it is in Singapore, maybe that could be why it's not a common gesture in Singapore.
New Territories is a good place to go for sight seeing. It's a little more laid back, but I like it there. It's more relaxing. They've got their famous wishing tree there, as tinkerbell has mentioned above, along with many other places to visit.
One more place worth going would be the famous Ocean Park! For dolphin lovers, don't miss their dolphin show. It's my first time watching an animal show overseas and I find the dolphin show much more entertaining than shows you get in Singapore. Of course there are other shows which I didn't catch, as well as aquariums and a pseudo reef with many sea creatures, plus their new addition of the Giant Panda. Do go as early as 1030am to beat the tourist crowd. After about 330pm when there's no more animal shows, the place would be pretty packed. Think it'll be good to start early and leave early.
As for food, I did hear that the goose was good, but I didn't get to try. However, I suggest that you have a go at their seafood as it's mostly fresh and it's relatively cheaper there too! Things are much bigger there too, like their fish and crab. I'd say it's pretty worth the money too, for the quality and quantity you get.
On the whole, HK is rather similar to Singapore in terms of fashion and transportation. However the people there are friendlier. To me, I think it's worth the experience traveling and being exposed to different cultures in different countries (: I definitely did enjoy myself on this trip!
Have recently got back from Hong Kong, and..this trip to Hong Kong changed my perceptions about quite a few things.
Firstly, their MTR is very similar to our MRT. Only difference was that..i felt that their stations were more..handicap (or even people) friendly. :) They had blinking dots on the maps, to let people know which stations they were at, and informed them which sides of the train to alight from. I felt that that was really a considerate service.
Imagine that. If we had this in Singapore, there won't be people trying to hide their embarassment or made to look stupid when they face the wrong side of doors at City Hall station. :P
Also, all their train annoucements were said in 3 different languages - Cantonese, Mandarin and English. At the stations, there were even braille on some of their ticketing machines, and..some signs with beeping noises at the escalators, to let the blind know that they are reaching the start of an escalator. Isn't that considerate? :)
The stations were all very clean as well, with different themes and colours allocated to each specific station, making visits to each station feel like an entirely new experience.
However, the shopping.
Hmm. It was far from what I expected, as recommended places like Temple Street and Hollywood Road only proved to be quite pathetic. Most of the stuff there were antiques and daily items which can easily be found in Singapore. Imitation goods were also available but..were common and definitely far from being attractive. :(
And the shopping malls? Oh my. It just left us horrified.
The prices were all so high! Even though they had "SALES" and "CRAZY SALES!" signs everywhere, to us, there weren't any sales at all. Belts and accessories could cost $30 at the minimum, and spaghetti tops can even be priced at $70 plus! And it's Sing dollars mind you. :O
We stayed away from the shopping malls after the first day of fright at Grand Century Plaza. x)
As for the streets, I'd recommend Granville Road (@ Tsim Sha Tsui), Li Yuen Street (@ Central), Fa Yuen Street Market & the Ladies Market (both @ Mongkok). Fa Yuen Street Market especially. There's alot more to shop there than the other streets, yet..I guess it's inevitable that most of the stuff look quite similar as you walk along. Just be sharp and patient enough to look through everything! :P
Ah..then we found a few small malls like our Far East Plaza there, that aren't featured on the maps. Like..Fashion Walk, Fashion Island & Causeway Place at Causeway Bay..and..Clue Shopping Arcade at Central. They are quite good places to shop, and the prices are not that scary. x)
Then..the places for sightseeing.
Hmm..I thought Repulse Bay was beautiful. :) The scenery there, wow..you've never guess that the pictures taken there were in HK. Hawaii, maybe. Oh! And we got to see Jackie Chan's house too! From far. Haha..
Victoria Peak is also another place which we went for sightseeing..but..there wasn't anything much. A trip there to probably see where the rich people stay, and..to get a full view of HK Island. :)
Ah..Avenue of Stars was quite okay. Quite a worthwhile place to drop by at night, just to view the night scenery and the handprints of all those celebrities along the walk.
And lastly, visit the wishing tree if you have time.
It's located at 新界大埔林村. Though we can no longer throw the oranges up onto the tree, but..really, the tree works wonders. It's a little far, but since my friend and I made it there ourselves, you guys should have no problems. Just take the MTR and switch to their KCR (their railway train station) and get off at 太和 station, before hailing a cab to reach the village where the tree is. Definitely worth the trip in my opinion.. :)
Ah-ha, and the food.
Please do try the wonton noodles in HK. They are fabulous. Serious. Their wonton makes Singapore's wonton look horribly pathetic. For your info, our wonton is only like..1/3 the size of theirs? x) And their wonton really have fresh prawns inside~ *mm* Delicious. :)
Oh yah, they have a dessert store called Xu Liu Shan. You can see it almost everywhere you go in HK, and..there'll be crowds. It's really good and everything that they used to make the dessert is fresh and definitely not syrup or preserved fruits. Worth every cent that you pay for! Besides, the price is reasonable too. :)
Though shopping was disappointing, but still, this trip to Hong Kong is a new experience altogther, especially observing their culture and people there.
One incident that struck me most: These people are really well mannered in the train stations. Totally unlike those rowdy HK locals that we may see on television.
What I saw was that, they actually QUEUE while waiting for the train to arrive, and move in orderly when the train arrives! That's such a courteous thing to do! Just imagine the chaotic scene at City Hall every evening, with the difference - people actually queuing in front of the doors, while waiting..then moving in orderly without pushing, squeezing or flattened against the door.
Imagine all the difference it'll make to have that.
A last note: their Cantonese sounded like Thai to me on the first day. Haha..especially when the salesperson speaks a whole string of Cantonese. xD But..no worries if you don't understand/speak Cantonese like me. Most of them speak a little Mandarin but that's enough to make deals with them. Some do speak English as well.
Else if all languages fail, gestures will do fine. :P
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