Per Gordon’s recommendations, I scrapped my whole day’s itinerary. I wanted the extra hours of sleep so I skipped the Dragon’s Back Trail. The Tian Tan Buddha is apparently really cool, but it’s 3 hours away and is a huge tourist attraction. Gordon recommended 10,000 Buddhas instead, which I had previously read about but decided on Tian Tan instead. He basically said that I can either go look at one massive Buddha or I could see 10,000 Buddhas, all with different poses. Also, this one was free. HELLER!
To start out the day, I went with another one of Gordon’s recommendations for breakfast, Bing Kee. This small business was all outside, kitchen and seating. Nothing was in English. I didn’t know what to do so I just followed everyone else. I was told to sit with a family of three at a table and then waited for the waitress to come back. A short time passed, the family had left, a new gentleman now sat next to me. He (apparently) ordered and then waitress left. She brought back the food and I gestured to her that I wanted whatever he had. I honestly didn’t know what it was, but it was meat, noodles, and it was food and I was hungry.
The gentleman next to be apologized, saying that he should have asked if I had ordered, instead of assuming. I laughed and told him not to worry, I didn’t know what I was doing and I had to learn. He then told me a little about the restaurant and what they were most known for. He ordered me the same dish as him and also talked me into getting the milk tea (which wasn’t a hard sell). I thanked him for his kindness and we got to chatting.
If you want to know more about our conversation and this instance, check out my Instagram page @jennlpetty to see how this ended up. All I have to say it, this man’s kindness brought me to tears.
Now onto the buddhas…I took the train (only 60 minutes) and was there in no time. Honestly, Google Maps always said getting anywhere in Hong Kong took about an hour but it always went by really quickly. But when you have 4 different trains with 2-3 stops on each, it keeps things interesting.
Their subway is so easy to navigate!! The signs are simple and everything just works. If you’re going to the 10,000 Buddhas in Sha Tin, you get off at the Sha Tin Station. Since I was staying in Tin Hau, I got off at the Tin Hau station. So easy!
Anyways, back to the buddhas. This was a beautiful hike. Not a hike in the sense of a dirty path, but a hike as in it was super steep and it was relatively warm outside. I got in a good workout! The buddhas were all very cool too. Some were serious, others tranquil, some goofy, some scary, some male, and some female! The female ones surprised me, I’m not quite sure why.
I got to the first stop and found myself at a huge temple. It was so ornate! Not only was it beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, the walls were lined from ceiling to (almost) floor with about 3 inch buddhas, again all with a different pose. This particular buddha was responsible for prosperity. Some people were bringing her fruit, others were thanking her for her blessings and taking some fruit with them.
I continued on and saw a bunch more buddhas and temples and watched as the other visitors paid their respects. There was incense burning everywhere and I loved watching how these people thanked/prayed to these buddhas.
That is a very quick summary of my time there, since I spent about 2 hours, but what else can I really say about buddhas? They were cool and if I knew the meaning behind each of them, I’d probably have more to tell you.
On the way down, I passed a bee shop (once again, another recommendation from Gordon). Hearing that they had some of the best honey ever tasted, I splurged and bought some. I was able to also walk through their bee farm and take pictures. Oh, and I only communicated with gestures and it was fun.
The walk down was on a different path from the one on the way up and it was easy. Very enjoyable. More temples, more buddhas, and different scenery. Once I got to the base, I turned on my wifi (that decided it kind of wanted to work) and connected with a girl I’d met through a Facebook group for girls who love to travel.
This was my first time meeting up with someone and I was excited! New friends? So down. We setup to meet at Ladies Market in Kowloon. Anabel, currently visiting from the Netherlands, is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. With a bubbly spirit and excitement for life, she just radiates joy. We met at the train station and continued on our adventure.
At these markets, you’re apparently supposed to bargain. Oddly enough, bargaining isn’t my things. I feel like it takes too much effort so I just don’t do it. Anabel was determined to teach me. We walked through the market and she bargained like a boss. I quickly caught on and made her proud. I think that was the exact moment we knew we were friends for reals.
We shopped and bargained, then decided to stop at a coffee shop. I ordered blooming rose tea and she a hot chocolate. A couple of her friends were going to join us, another girl she had met through the same group and her friend. This is how I met Eliza and Joe. Eliza is originally from Poland but is living in Taiwan, Joe is from Australia and is currently living in Australia.
We hung out at a place called Coffee Break near the end of the market and then decided to brave it again so Eliza and Joe could experience it. As we were walking through, we were snapping photos of everything and anything (BTW, Joe has a Canon too so we obviously bonded right away). I offered to take some photos for each of them and they realized that I’m actually kind of good at it. This then turned into a photoshoot.
Come to find out, Eliza is a travel blogger (who is quite amazing, check her out at http://www.elitravelbug.com) and was stoked for some pictures of this adventure. Anabel is a natural at modeling and could honestly do no wrong. Joe was also easy to shoot. He took direction well and was definitely not camera shy. What a great sport, even doing his own jumping photo.
We got on the train and eventually parted ways. They were going to do Victoria Peak (which I’d done the previous day) and I was heading to Wan Chai. After arriving, I was too tired to walk around and decided to head back to my room and recharge my phone/get a little something to eat. It was about 6pm and I just realized I’d skipped lunch. Oops.
I charged my stuff and set out for this ice cream shop nearby (thanks again, Gordon) where they make your ice cream using nitrogen. It was delicious! Since I was the only one there, I was able to talk to the guy who worked there. Found out he’s studying computer engineering and wants to work for a company developing apps. He was a total sweetheart and his English was pretty good too. I made sure to tell him this, because I could tell he was hesitant with each word he spoke. However, his English was very good (especially since I wasn’t used to people speaking to me in English) and we had a great conversation.
I had planned to go out with Anabel, Eliza, and Joe but I was too tired. I had to wake up early the next morning to catch my flight to Tokyo and knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to make it if I had gone out. Instead, Gordon wanted to go get Thai food.
He took me to his favorite place in Wan Chai and I was able to try a few different things. Also, I found out what those vegetables are called! Morning Glory. Weird name, delicious taste. We ordered red chicken curry, papaya salad, morning glory, and pork neck. I tried everything too! I feel like I keep saying the food was amazing (because it is) but I honestly have not been disappointed by any of the food yet.
He gave me a tour around the area, including the local hooker hangout and methadone clinic. Oh and we also got a dessert. I’m not sure what the name of it is, but it was delicious. Also, did you know that soccer is huge in Hong Kong? And that they play on cement fields instead of grass? I’m assuming they don’t do slide tackles…
We walked around and eventually headed back to his place. On our way back, we met Melissa since she was getting some beef brisket from one of their favorite places and wanted me to try some. The generosity of these people still amazes me. I mean, I PAID to stay at their place. They didn’t owe me anything. But they took the time to get to know me, take me around the city, and even SHARE THEIR FOOD with me! All of you who know how much I love food understand how much this means to me.
I stayed in after that and got my things together. I had to wake up around 5:30 the next morning to make my flight so I needed all the rest I could get.
There are not enough words to express the time I had in Hong Kong. My hosts were amazing, my time exploring alone was phenomenal, and the bond that I quickly created with these people I just met was incredible. I’m looking forward to seeing them all again soon. There is actually a small reunion planned to take place in Taipei, so stay tuned…