Victoria Peak and Victoria Harbor

VICTORIA PEAK

It is one of the highest points in the city and a major tourist attraction. Luckily for me, I went to get my ticket for the Peak Tram at a time when there was not that many people. After eating lunch, I headed to MTR Central and exited from “J.” The directions in streets lead me to a 5 minute walk to the entrance of the Peak Tram. The tram is a fun way to go up to the top of the peak instead of trying to hike it. Supposedly, the hike is supposed to take 30 – 45 minutes, but it has a pretty high slope. The cost to ride the Tram up and down the peak is HKD$99, including the 420 sky deck.

Once you get your ticket, you have to wait with a pool of people until the next Tram comes. Each tram comes down every 5-10 minutes. It doesn’t take long once you get your ticket, but I have seen the wait line for tickets go to over an hour or two. Alternative ways of getting up and down is taking a bus or a taxi. The bus, however, is always full, so it hardly ever stops near the Tram in case you wanted to change route. The taxi can be pretty expensive if you’re traveling alone.

The Tram takes you inside a large souvenir shop that has a lot of discounted items. It leads you into almost a mall-like building. You can get trapped inside this place. If you keep going up, you will get to the 420 sky deck. You have to show them your Tram ticket that includes the deck, so they can mark it off. It looks like you can only go up there once, so if you come down, don’t expect to go back up.

At the peak, there is a photographer, but I recommend not having them take your picture. They are incredibly overpriced and your phone can do the same job. There really is not much to do up at the peak, but take some pictures and enjoy the view!

You do not come up the way you go down. The entrance to exit the peak is outside and around the mall-area.

8/10 would do it again 🙂

 

VICTORIA HARBOR

The harbor is by the ferries at Tsim Sha Tsui. It is about a 3-5 minute walk from the MTR. I have yet to see the harbor during the day, but the array of lights late at night is magnificent. The colors glimmered off the water and gave us the feel of serenity.

We tried to take a Polaroid picture with the scenery behind us, but when that did not work out, we improvised! It was a lot of fun to sit down and enjoy the ocean breeze. At the harbor, the humidity is not as thick and there is a subtle cool wind that blows in the night. Victoria Harbor is absolutely breathtaking, but trying to take pictures with hardly any lighting directs a lot of attention!

Although we marveled at the harbor, local people had a more creative way of using the romantic scenery. We saw a lot of couples and occasional families have picnics that would overlook the city next to them.

Behind the harbor, there is a nice vintage looking clock tower. There is a path of palm trees and a water fountain leading up to the clock tower. The lighting was not sufficient enough for us to take a nice picture, but when we come back during the day, it would be a beautiful picture to take.

9.5 / 10 would do it again 🙂

Tai O Fishing Village

Outside of the city of Hong Kong and in towards the jungle environment lies Tai O Village. The bus ride to get there lasted over an hour. Once there, you can smell the essence of the sea as you walk through the fishing markets. It is a great place to go to if one is looking for good seafood. As you enter the village, lots of vendors will try and bait you to watch the dolphins on a boat. Although I did not go on these boats, they were very appealing. If you are hungry, Tai O Village has no shortage of street food. I recommend getting these almond cookies that are generally only found and made in Macau. They are almost always right out of the oven! If you are looking for classic Chinese snacks, try dried squid. Don’t knock it until you try it!

Finding things to do here can be a little tough, but towards the dock, there are great places to take pictures. You can model down the pier or I recommend seeing the old Police Station that has now been renovated as a hotel; they have great views of the water. They have some interesting architecture for homes and even an area of homes that appear to have been abandoned. There quite a few temples that have really nice lookout points! Be warn some of these temples are closed on the weekends.

Their souvenirs are creative, but some of them are more expensive that most places you would find in the middle of the city. My personal favorite is the turtle with eyeglasses made out of tiny seashells. I also purchased some postcards from a more high end gift shop.

We took a ferry ride back to the city. It took us about 45 minutes to get back. We were so tired from the day that we fell asleep on the ferry.

OVERALL: The village was worth seeing. It gave us a different perspective of how people in Hong Kong live. Not everyone lives in the city and the rural civilization was interesting to see. 🙂

6.5 / 10 would go again.

Day Trip to Macau

Here are some photos from some of my adventures when I took a day trip to Macau. Macau is a small country attached to China and most of the people there do not speak English. Unless you are out gambling or near the hotels, hardly any of the locals speak English. Luckily for me, I know how to speak Cantonese; I do not know how tourists find their way around the city.

I took a ferry there, but I had to buy tickets from an outside vendor because the tickets were pretty much sold out until 5:00 p.m. unless you want to pay nearly $200 to go there and back. I only paid about $65 dollars for the ferry there and back. The ferries are very clean and super nice! The ride was about an hour to get to Macau and about 45 minutes to get back to Hong Kong.

The weather was super humid and we got rained on! Macau is split into two, so we went to the top half first. We got lost a lot and we also tried African chicken, which is a specialty in Macau. The African chicken was very good, but be warn that it is pretty expensive, at least if you want the good ones. Try a Portuguese egg tart while you are there. Trust me, they are wonderful. The top half of Macau has most of the site seeing places like the Ruin of St. Paul and Senado Square. We walked around mainly and only took the bus a couple of times to get to far places. Everything is pretty close together. A lot of the places we went to were not surrounded by a lot of tourist, which is not surprising because a lot of those places are deep within Macau. We also went on a holiday for Hong Kong, so most of the people in Hong Kong were home with their families.

They don’t call it the Las Vegas of Asia for no reason, the casinos and hotels were beautiful and well kept. I have been to Las Vegas and I can personally say, Las Vegas is nothing in contrast to Macau. The Venetian has those gondola rides inside it, but it is pretty pricey to ride on them and apparently the line can get super long. I asked a worker at the Venetian what the drinking age was and he laughed at me. He said this is not the United States, you can drink if you want, but you need to be 21 to gamble. I do not see the workers stop you if you look around that age, but they will stop children from going inside the casino.

I am considering going back to Macau for another day and maybe looking more at the hotels and casinos because most of my day was spent in the historical sights and buildings. I highly recommend traveling to Macau if you are studying in Hong Kong; it is well worth the visit.

Guide to Being a Student at the City University of Hong Kong: First Two Weeks

Pre-Departure

What to Pack:

Having been to China before, I can tell you that when you are packing, only pack your luggage 85% full. I say this because you would not believe the amount of things you are going to want to buy while you are in Hong Kong. They have clothes that are like $10 in US dollars! It is also difficult to not be tempted to buy souvenirs for families and friends. There are a lot of cute things that you can bring back. Only bring one carry on item with you. Put the larger luggage under the plane, but make sure it under 50 pounds so that you do not have to pay for it. When you are in Hong Kong, you can buy another purse or backpack to fit more of your stuff when you come back! Pack enough clothes to wear for a week and bring a swimsuit for when you feel like you want to relax at a beach. Bring two towels, one for the shower and one for the beach, although I suppose you can just buy a cheap towel when you arrive. Don’t worry about bringing school stuff; the stationary available here is amazing. Please pack an umbrella, you may or may not get drenched when you walk outside the airport, luckily I was not. I also bought a video camera and a Polaroid for this trip. You only get to travel out of the country so many times, am I right? Bring an ethernet cable that is at least 2 meters long that can be plugged into your laptop, trust me it will save your life. Also, do not forget that Hong Kong does not have the same outlets at the US, you can choose to buy one before getting there, or you can go to the Computer Arcade in Sham Shui Po and get it for CHEAPER. I am assuming that people know to bring their own essentials, but hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. Bring light bedding and maybe a pillow because there will not be any in your dorm.

 

What to Expect/Do:

I was having a lot of troubles with deadlines. Make sure you read the emails carefully and ask a lot of questions. Almost every required document of mine was late. And although I will take responsibility for some of them, there were definitely some forms that were unclear. When they send you the email after you got your acceptance letter, do the Hong Kong visa application immediately and pay for it then too because it will impede your approval. Get your Residence Hall accepted by the University by going into your AIMS account. They should have told you how to log in to that. Pay the Residence Hall bill immediately, this is harder to find, so you may have to ask your advisor. Email the department that you want the credit to be transferred to so that you know you will get credit for those classes. You also need to fill out an EVF form and bring it the Academic Office once you get through the first week or so because OU needs that to confirm your course Equivalency. The form can be found on the education abroad website. Pay for insurance, I did not know how to until they told me I was late on it and then sent me the email for it, so ask your advisor. Print off everything that the City University of Hong Kong sends you if you think it is important, like your acceptance letter and the paper from your approved student visa sticker.

 

Departure

 

About to Land

What to Expect/Do:

The plane ride, depending on who you fly with, usually offers television and food. I would suggest buying some food at the airport before you departure in case you get the munchies. Also grab a water bottle or energy drink. Unless you would like to sleep, maybe consider taking some sleeping medication to help with the long flight. To be honest, I was falling in and out of sleep the entire flight. If you have never been on a long flight before, let me tell you that flights get crazy cold. You are up at high elevation and you will be freezing, so either pack a sweater/hoodie/jacket in your personal bag or wear it when you leave for the airport. If you get cold easy, bring two just in case. It also helps to bring two because the pillows are not the best so you might want to use the other one as a pillow too.

 

 

Arrival in Hong Kong / Departure from Airport to University

What to Expect/Do:

Walking Off the Airplane

No matter what time of the day it is, you will be walking into humidity. I hope you are not wearing jeans because they’ll suffocate you and make you feel disgusting. Grab your things and walk towards the Immigration gates. They are in the same direction as the baggage claim. Read the signs before going through and do not go with the crowd, most people are local and do not have to go through Immigration. Once you get to the Immigration Officer, have your Passport ready and turned to the page with your Hong Kong STUDENT visa. I saw this girl get a hold on her account at the Academic Office because she got the wrong paper at Immigration. They told her that she needed to ask for a student visa slip. After Immigration, you should first know what number your baggage claim station is and then head towards it, but stop by an ATM and pull out some cash. After grabbing a sufficient amount of cash, have enough for the Taxi which is almost HK$235, but have extra just in case. Get some instructions to grab an Octopus Card. It is HK$50 for the card itself and HK$100 minimum for the first time on the card. Hong Kong uses this card for everything, not just the modes of transportation. Head towards the taxi area, you are on an island, but you do not need to take the ferry. Take the red urban taxi and show them the address of your residence hall or the security office for the residence halls on your phone or on paper. Sometimes they talk to you, sometimes they do not.

 

Arrival to University

What to Expect/Do:

You will be taken to the front of all the residence halls that has a security office by the entrance. Go to the security office and show them your passport and the copy of your Residence Hall. They will ask you to fill out some paperwork, which is pretty simple, but your paper does not tell you which bed you have if you are living in a double room. Take #1, just in case you beat your dorm mate, but if not take #2 and all of the furniture in the dorm with whatever number you have is yours and your responsibility. I did not have my Student ID at the time, but you need the Student ID to get into your dorm. However, since I got there on a weekend, they said I had to knock on the residence hall door and show them my passport. Sometimes he/she will have you write down your name and room number. Show them your residence key if that helps. You share a bathroom with another room, but the dorms are nice to live in. The common area has a shared fridge and cooking equipment, but use with caution. You never know how clean the stuff actually is. There is WiFi in the common area, but there is no WiFi in your room. The login for the main WiFi across campus is your EID login information. There is a site that you need to use to register your WiFi, you can potentially get that part done before you get there, but it might be wrong until you get to your dorm. You need the Ethernet IP address in your room for you to register to get WiFi. It takes a working regular day for the WiFi to work if your IP address was rightly inputted. Ask your IFC buddy to give you the site for WiFi. There is no bedding, nor is there a pillow on your twin size mattress. It is hot in your room, so use your Octopus card on the First Floor and pay for it. It’s not that much.

Laundry is generally on the last floor of the building. For mine, I went all the way up and there was nothing there. It turns out that the laundry room is out the door that says do not push unless of an emergency. Push the door, but not the sign and you will find your way outside and see a greenhouse type place on the roof. That is the laundry room. Apparently there is a small gym on one of the floors, but you can ask the secure officer which one.

When you are trying to go find food after you have settled in to your dorm. First look at the options on the CityU website. Look at a close map of the campus. Nearly every single academic building is connected to one another. I knew them by name, but everyone seems to use the abbreviated names for them. Go towards the city area. There should be a bridge connecting to the campus from the residential halls. Look around and venture off. You will need to find ways to get back to your dorm easily and being the most indoors. Trust me the heat will get to you. There is a gate that will sometimes be closed on the bridge (midnight to maybe 7 in the morning), but you can exit the dorms through a button on the right side. If you are trying to enter the dorms, use your student ID. Be warn that buildings are closed at 11 p.m. unless there is a space that is open 24 hours for studying then that one little area will have doors for you to enter. I say this because you’ll have to walk uphill outside in the humidity and you will be wondering if it is worth it to walk all the way up. There are escalators and lifts in and out of the buildings. The entire campus is almost shut off if it is a holiday.

If you are trying to go an event outside of campus, bring your passport. This may be one of the only times you truly need to have it with you. A lot of clubs and such require ID by passport, but I have heard a Driver’s License is acceptable. I would check up on that one though.

 

Food

The food on campus is actually decent and really cheap. However, you will get sick of it. Not everything is great. You can try it out if you like, but their roast duck and chicken are pretty good. I use and abuse the fact that the MTR is so cheap to go around and try quality Hong Kong food for cheap prices. Use OpenRice; it is generally pretty accurate and you can probably find a menu. Festival Walk across the street has some great options too, but a lot of their food is pretty expensive for one person. Bring friends with you to eat at those places. There is a grocery store (Taste) in Festival Walk if you need to bring snacks back to your dorm. Although keep in mind, you live up a hill and you should have a backpack to put the stuff in because you will have to pay a very small fee for every bag you want. Grocery bags cost money here. Any bags cost money here. Shopping has the same idea. Please try different things and look places up! However, I will have a food blog up soon. There is also a boiler in the kitchen, so you can grab some ramen just in case you do not feel like exiting the comfort of your dorm when it is raining cats and dogs outside.

View of an Academic Building from Festival Walk. Residence Halls are the blue and white tall buildings in the background.