Hong Kong Heat: 1, Joe: 0

I knew that Hong Kong in the summer can be a little on the warm side. Maybe a little humid. I’ve known people who have gone here this time of year. They all said that it’s tropical and I should be prepared.

Well, I landed at 5:30am to begin my 12 hour layover. I jumped on the train at 6:45am and had my feet on the ground in Kowloon by 7. I figured that this early in the day, I’d be able to beat the heat and do some solid exploring.

By 7:30 I was slumped on a bench down by the docks, feeling heavy regret for not filling my water bottle before I left. Nonetheless, I was determined to see Hong Kong in spite of the oppressive heat and humidity.

For 105 HKD (13.38 USD), I got myself a train ticket from the airport to Kowloon Station. Maybe 20 minutes later, I arrived at the station without much of an idea of where to go. There were only a few exits that I could see. So, I figured that the best way out of the underground station was to follow someone who happened to be exiting the same way. They oughta be heading for the surface, right?

Well, not right. After several twists and turns down a dimly lit bus tunnel, my “guide” turned a corner into a much more brightly lit corridor, which I figured was the way onto the street. Turns out I probably had followed him to work. A few uniformed men pointed back out at the tunnel, going “No, no.”

 

West Kowloon

Luckily, I wasn’t far off, and was soon stepping out into the bright Hong Kong morning. Most of the coast line was dominated by huge industrial cranes and docks, and most of the people I saw were construction workers or fishermen. But part of the construction in West Kowloon was creating something different — greenspaces and bike paths, shared by uniformed workers and Tai Chi grannies alike.

But after an hour or so walking around this area, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to get any further into Hong Kong on foot. So I went back to Kowloon Station, and bought a ticket to Hong Kong Station for 11 HKD (1.40 USD), which is just one stop down the line.

 

Central Hong Kong

Almost as soon as I left Hong Kong Station, the vibe was completely different. West Kowloon was pretty quiet compared to downtown Hong Kong. I stepped out of the train station and headed towards the waterfront, but pretty quickly decided I wanted to gain some elevation. Hong Kong is very mountainous, and the city is built right up the steep slopes.

It didn’t take long before I was absolutely winded. I had a backpack since I didn’t want to pay for a locker. My once comfortable shirt felt more like a sheet of wet canvas. Yet all around me, people much older than I were casually strolling right up the 45 degree street, many of them wearing suits and other businesswear.

Massive high rises sat right atop ancient-looking newspaper stands and restaurants. Cathedrals leftover from British rule sit adjacent to the Department of Justice. The Hong Kong Botanical Garden occupies an elevated block and overlooks much of the city. There’s a lot going on to say the least.

By noon, I decided that the heat had won. I was drenched and exhausted on a bench in the botanical garden, and knew it was time to head back. I made my way back to Hong Kong station, and paid 115 HKD (14.65 USD) for a ticket all the way back to the airport. Before I left, I dropped another 10.50 HKD (1.33 USD) for a pork bun and then called it a day. All in, my day in Hong Kong cost 241.5 HKD, or a little under 30 USD.

Now all that’s left is to get on my flight to Kathmandu. Gulp.

 

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