In a place as crowded as Hong Kong, you’re never alone. Even a quiet sit on some rocks by the sea is impossible! (In Stanley, at least)
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If ever I am feeling like I have had a bit too much of Hong Kong, or the strangeness of it gets to me, I know I can escape to Stanley. It really reminds me a little of home!
Stanley is a small town on the south-eastern corner of Hong Kong Island. You can get to it on the number 6 or 6X bus. The bus journeys are quite nice in themselves. The number 6 goes over Chung Nai Gap and has views over the valley and then round Repulse Bay. The number 6X goes through Aberdeen Tunnel and skirts Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay on its way to Stanley.
The town of Stanley straddles a peninsular (Stanley Peninsular). It has a beach on one side and a promenade on the other. The beach is nice enough, but I hear it gets very busy at weekends in summer.
The promenade is quite recently renovated and at one end is Stanley Plaza, a new shopping mall. It houses a fair number of pricier home-ware shops and similar, and is worth a look round although I’ve never bought anything there.
At the same end of the promenade are Stanley Pier and Murray House. When I was researching for this blog post, I found out that Murray House used to be barracks which were located in Central. The whole building was moved to Stanley in the 2000s! (ref) Now the building houses the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (although I think this has now moved to Central Ferry Pier 8).
At the opposite end of the promenade is Stanley Market. This is quite a fun market with a real mixture of shops. There’s all the usual tourist tat, but mixed in are quite a few more expensive shops, some selling more unusual items. My favourite is a lacquer-ware shop called Good Lacque (I also appreciate the pun there!). I’ve got a really nice wine bottle holder from there in the past. Last time I went in I saw two things that I wanted to buy but didn’t have the money for at the time. I hope they’re still there next time I go!
So why do I like Stanley so much? It has the feel of a seaside town in the UK. The majority of it is very low-rise with 3-4 storey houses lining the hills which have balconies facing out to sea. This gives is quite an open feel. Many of the bars and restaurants lining the promenade are Western-style and have big open frontages where you can sit out and see the sea. One of my favourites is a small café called Lucy’s which lies at the market end of the promenade. You can have lovely freshly made sandwiches and cakes here. And sitting out there on the promenade munching on a chocolate brownie really does make you feel like you’re not in Hong Kong any more!
…well, that is until a large group of Chinese tourists parks themselves nearby and start trying to (not-so-subtlely) take pictures of the Westerners…
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So after being a little negative about Hong Kong last week, let me tell you about some of my favourite things about this place. So with no further ado…
Whilst I will admit it is ridiculously hot here in summer, I am one of those people who would rather be too warm than too cold, so I have been very much enjoying the warm climate here! Even now, whilst the weather has turned a bit grey and wet, it’s still in the mid-teens so a jumper and a jacket is sufficient to keep me toasty. (This photo is of me in warmer times after climbing Jardine’s Lookout!)
2. I am tall here
In the UK, at 5’4″ I am pretty much bang-on average height for a woman (ref), and I generally feel quite short. However, here sometimes I feel like a giant! I especially notice it when queuing behind a line of little old Chinese ladies for the toilet. Maybe this means I will be able to see more at concerts now?
3. Chinese tea
Those of you who know me will know that I don’t like tea or coffee. However, in a lot of Chinese restaurants here (especially the smaller ones), they plonk a glass of Chinese tea in front of you as soon as you sit down, and often they don’t charge you for it. So I’ve started drinking it! It’s actually quite refreshing, with a much weaker taste than the tea back home. The Chinese have a very specific procedure that they go through when making tea, which involves tiny teacups, a tiny teapot, a larger kettle, a jug and a strainer – we had a go ourselves in Taipei recently, with mixed success!
Hong Kong is such a vertical city that there are amazing views wherever you go. Whether it’s looking up…
5. City and countryside
I think a lot of people don’t realise that the city of Hong Kong makes up only a small proportion of Hong Kong SAR. It is amazingly easy to get out of the city into the amazing hills, forests, islands and beaches that surround. I can be on Repulse Bay beach or on top of a hill overlooking the city in less than 15 minutes from the heart of Wanchai. There are so many places to explore around Hong Kong, and Tom and I have only just scratched the surface. I’ll be telling you all about some of the places to go in future posts.
So, that’s almost it for my favourite things about Hong Kong. However, Tom will berate me if I don’t mention the food! There is every kind of food available here, especially Asian food (as you would expect) and most of it is very yummy indeed. I’ll talk about this in more detail in a future post!
What are your best and worst things about Hong Kong? I’d love to hear from you!
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