The students are crazy; antsy in their seats, buzzing around with anticipation for the break to begin. The teachers might be more crazy; with last minute marking to finish, getting packed and ready for our vacations, and in desperate need of some rest and relaxation. It’s the period right before winter break, and we all just want to head out for the holidays and leave school and work behind for a few weeks.
Though the weeks leading up to winter break were hectic, they were also filled with fun. I had our staff Christmas dinner and the Clockenflap Music Festival to look forward to, and a few fun nights out with good friends before we all parted ways for the holidays.
What better way to spend a Tuesday off work thanks to the Chung Yeung Festival than to hike through Sai Kung East in search of the “deserted beaches” everyone talks about!?
Now, not only was the hike to get to these deserted beaches long, the journey to actually get to the beginning of the MacLehose Trail was a nightmare. Let’s start from the beginning..
We left quite a bit later than we should have, given that it was a holiday; clearly not off to the best start. By the time we packed our bags and left our door, it was around 10:30am. We had to take the MTR to Hang Hau Station, which took about 20 minutes. Once we made it to Hang Hau Station, we had to hop on a Public Light Bus (a small van-esque form of public transportation where the drivers most definitely do not follow the speed limit) to the main bus station in Sai Kung. This was about a 30 or so minute journey.
We clearly did not plan out our route to get to the beginning of the trail very well; we had no idea where we were going once we got off the bus. All we knew was that we needed to hop onto another Public Light Bus to take us to the MacLehose Trail. After getting directions on three separate occasions and wandering around for the better part of half an hour, we were mortified when at last we found the bus stop.. There were probably seventy people waiting in line for the bus. Grrrreat. Thankfully the bus line went relatively fast – we only waited for about half an hour.
My first off-the-island adventure was to Lantau Island (the largest island in Hong Kong!). This island is immediately to the west of HK and we took a ferry to get there and the MTR to get home. The airport and Disneyland are actually located on this island. The island is not heavily populated and mostly caters to tourists.
The Big Buddha is a huge pull for people to travel to the island and there are many trails for the adventurous hikers who are looking for a new challenge. Once up there, there are many sights to see – temples, incense burning areas, beautiful architecture, statues of warriors, and the Buddha of course.
If you’re catching the ferry, head to Central Ferry Pier to Pier 6 (Mui Wo). The view during the ferry ride was beautiful – you were able to see cityscape on both the Kowloon side as well as the island. When you are in the city, you don’t really realize how big it is. Hopefully you can try to go on a day when it’s not as smoggy. Quite the rarity in Hong Kong, but not only will that make your ferry ride much more scenic, it will also make the Buddha visible (kind of why you want to come here in the first place..).
Where to even begin … The first few weeks in Hong Kong seem like such a blur now. L and I were frantically travelling all around the island to try to find a flat, there were so many new faces to get to know, restaurants to try, and streets (and people!) to navigate.
We spent ten days staying at the Ibis Hotel in North Point. I remember getting off the bus and heading up to my floor. I had never seen a hotel room quite like this – one room with a double bed that left about one and a half feet for walking space and a bathroom. Needless to say, Hong Kong is quite the compact city.
After a long search for a two bedr0om flat, L and I finally settled. We live only a ten minute walk from work. Though our place isn’t spectacular, it works. We have all the necessities within minutes from us (Starbucks, Subway, grocery store, McDonalds, laundry, MTR [subway] station, 7-Eleven, and the list goes on) and are paying much less than what some of our co-workers who are living in a more central/western area are paying.
Though we had the keys to our place, there were still some essentials we had to deal with; we needed new mattresses and air conditioners, the house needed a good cleaning, Internet was not set up. Living out of a suitcase and sleeping on our couch for just over a week was not particularly pleasant. Looking on the bright side, it could always be worse.
Now that the dust has settled, I am so happy we chose this place to live. The convenience, price, and location of our flat is perfect.