3 Days in Hong Kong - What to See and Do

When we visited China, we loved the culture and people of southeast Asia. It has undoubtedly been the preferred destination for different trips. This year we are going to visit one of the great cities of Asia that we have yet to see, Hong Kong, which will be our first stop. We will also take advantage of the nearby Macao, capital of the casinos, known as Las Vegas of Asia.

The flight was half empty, and we had quite good seats but with the few people we could have been each in a row. After arriving in Hong Kong, after a good walk through endless corridors, we reached the immigration. As fast as I have seen, it takes just 5 minutes to cross immigration.

The luggage belt is quite large. We look at the screen and immediately begin to appear the suitcases. In 5 minutes we had ours. We look for the green zone of "nothing to declare" and we go out. There were police who checked randomly, but no queue was formed, and we were already in the airport hall. Here we had 3 things planned. The first is to change money, although little since the change in airports is usually quite bad, and this was not going to be an exception.

With the currency of the country, the next thing is to buy the smart transport card. With this card we pay for almost all the transport in Hong Kong, without worrying about taking it right, with discounts in many cases. We can even use it to pay in a multitude of places like 7-Eleven, and even McDonald's.

We ask and there are several places where we can buy fast train tickets. They do not accept credit cards, so we have to pay it in cash. Next we buy a SIM card to have data and be connected. There are several stores in the same airport and we chose one of them and also we already leave with the mobile configured and working.

Once everything has been solved we go to the bus stop which is the transport we had chosen, for comfort and price. Although it is a bit slower to get to the center, it depends on the traffic at the moment.

The stops are very close to the exit of the terminal, to the right and we immediately located it because it was well signposted. The bus was about to leave for the downtown. The bus left us practically at the door of our hotel in Mong Kok.

We were at the hotel, after a 40-minute drive. We left the suitcases at the hotel and went out to get to see the area and get more currency since at the airport we changed the right amount. When we had to make the purchases in cash we did not want to stay short for the next day.

We knew that the best exchange area is chunking mansions but as along Nathan Road there are many exchange houses we asked in a couple. We took the subway and went down to near the bay where is chunking mansions, which is a shopping center. In the same entrance there are several exchange houses and there we changed.

With the duties done and taking advantage of the fact that we were in the bay, we just went down Nathan Road. We see one of the most beautiful urban landscapes in the world, the Skyline of the Hong Kong Bay.

We were lucky enough to take a good place to see the light and sound show that they have at 8 pm. It is pretty good especially for the frame of the bay with its illuminated skyscrapers. To be able to enjoy it completely we download an app that allows us to listen to the music synchronized with the play of lights.

Hong Kong wallpaper images travel


Day 2

We left the hotel early to Macao. We first take the subway to move to what is the island of Hong Kong to go take the ferry that will take us to Macao. In little more than half an hour we were already at the ferry station to leave for Macao.

The subway takes us to the same access to the ferry terminal that is well indicated. We go directly to the hall where the ticket offices are to buy the ferry tickets. There are two companies. We took out the tickets that we could pay with a credit card and then pass the immigration check and access a boarding room to catch the ferry

In one hour we were at the Macau ferry terminal. When leaving the terminal we see that we are in the new terminal near the casinos on the island of Taipa. As we wanted to start the visits through the colonial area we decided to take a taxi, since we had read that they were cheap. It he left us at the starting point of the visits, and we left for Senado Square.

The Senado Square is part of the historical center of Macao, and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is an elongated square of triangular shape. The square was named in honor of the Leal Senado, a meeting place for Chinese and Portuguese in the 16th and 18th centuries. The vast majority of the buildings surrounding the square are European-style and many of them are protected monuments.

The first visit was for the city hall or as it is called here Civic And Municipal Affairs Bureau. We continue through the square seeing the buildings of colonial architecture that flank it. I have a rare feeling of finding myself in Europe, but the crowds, the bustle and the signs already tell me that this is Asia.

We continue going into the historic quarter making a stop in St. Dominic's Church, a church of the sixteenth century in baroque style. The construction of the church was completed in 1587 and supervised by three Spanish Dominican priests. Due to renovation and reconstruction, the current structure dates back to the 17th century. The church is the oldest in Macao and is considered one of the 29 sites that make up the Historic Center of Macao, a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.

We continue our walk that gets more complicated every time, first by the crowd, and then by the humidity. Together with the heat it did not stop me from sweating. We were also seeing food stalls with oriental delicacies. They were destined mostly to Chinese tourists, an overwhelming majority in Macao.

Following the indications we went to the iconic monument of Macao. We see the ruins of the monument in particular the ruins of the church of St. Paul's.

The Ruins do not belong to a Cathedral but to the old Church, which was finished in 1640 and was destroyed by a fire in 1835, conserving only its facade. The complex also includes the Mother of God Church, the School and the Fortress of the Mount, all Jesuit buildings. As a whole, they are identified as the Acropolis of Macao. All that remains of the grandest and most beautiful of Macao's churches is the imposing granite facade and 68-step staircase.

The impressive granite facade has been crafted for many years by Japanese Christian exiles and local artists, under the direction of the Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola. It seemed on the verge of breaking down but was propped up with steel. It rises on four levels with columns and is covered with carvings and sculptures that illustrate the origins of the Catholic church in Asia.

From the facade of the Cathedral we deviate from our way to the current cathedral of Macao, to continue climbing to the fortress of Monte. The Monte Forte was built by the Jesuits between 1617 and 1626, and was the main military defense structure of the Portuguese colony of Macao. It was crucial in the rejection of the attempted Dutch invasion when on June 24, 1622 they attacked with 3 ships and 1,300 men.

It was built on top of a mountain located in the center of the peninsula, which allows to see over the city in all directions. The fortress has the shape of an irregular trapezoid that covers an approximate area of ​​8,000 square meters. It was equipped with cannons, military barracks, wells and an arsenal that contained enough ammunition and supplies that allowed it to withstand a two-year siege.

We made a stop to eat and continue to Mandarin House. It is possible to go inside and outside a typical Macau Chinese mansion with some western elements incorporated into its structure.

The mandarin house, protected by UNESCO within the Macanese historical case, was built in the mid-nineteenth century as the residence of Chinese writer Zheng Guangying. Today it is one of the best surviving examples in Macao of residential architecture in the region. It is an extraordinarily photogenic place.

Our last point of visit in the ancient zone of Macao was the Temple of A Ma. Temple of A-Ma existed already before the birth of the city of Macao itself. It is believed that the temple was built by Chinese fishermen living in Macao in the fifteenth century, to honor and worship the goddess A-Má (goddess of Heaven), also called Tin Hau, Mazu or Matsu. This Taoist deity is highly venerated throughout southern China and in various parts of East Asia. She is considered as the protector of fishermen and sailors.

It is believed that the Portuguese landed in Macao, possibly in the year 1554 or 1557, specifically at the entrance to the Inland Port, also called by the Chinese fishermen Bahia de A-Ma. According to legends of the sixteenth century, the name of the city derives precisely from the Cantonese word A-Ma-Gau, which literally means Bay of A-Ma.

The temple of A-Má is included in the list of historical monuments of the Historic Center of Macao. It can be considered that this temple is the last symbol of Chinese culture in Macao. It has the Porch Pavilion, the Memorial Arch, the Hall of Prayer, the Pavilion of Benevolence, or the Guanyin Pavilion and the Zhengjiao Chanlin Buddhist Pavilion. They are each arranged in harmony with the natural environment and contributing to the beauty of the set.

Each pavilion is dedicated to the worship of a Chinese deity. It is something that makes the temple a unique example of the diverse influences of Chinese culture, through Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and various popular beliefs.

Here we ended our visit to the colonial part of Macao, and returned to the island of Tapai to visit a mega casino-hotel almost twin of Las Vegas. We must bear in mind that Macao is known as Las Vegas of Asia, and already it surpasses Vegas as much in collection in the casinos as in number of visitors.

There are seven more resorts, under construction on the Cotai Strip in Macau. In the vicinity, mega complexes of the same type and size are being built but for the time being they are under construction. So we decided that it was time to go back to Hong Kong. We took advantage of the free buses that the casinos put to move us to the ferry terminal, from where we came back.

And once back to the hotel to rest we still have the jet lag in the body and we have to get used to the heat and humidity.

Day 3

We start today's route. The first of the temples was the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. It is far from the center of the city, and it is not one overcrowded by tourism, which gives it another charm. Not being a tourist destination, the indications are conspicuous by their absence. It cost us to turn around since we had entered a cemetery.

The access is in the back of a shopping center in front of the exit of the neighborhood, where there is access to garages. There is no indication, just a paved road and fenced with wire mesh on both sides. Once we get to where we start the climb we see the golden statues on both sides of the road.

The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is a Buddhist temple of the mid-twentieth century located in Sha Tin, Hong Kong, at Pai Tau Village. Its designation as a monastery is, in fact, an inappropriate name because there are no monks residing in the complex. It is administered only by laymen. Both the main temple building and the pagoda are listed as historical buildings by the government of Hong Kong.

The main trip to the monastery is an attraction in itself, since the path is bordered on both sides with golden Buddhas, each unique and in different poses. Despite the common translation of its name, the monastery actually contains almost 13,000 Buddha statues.

The Monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas is located on a hill in the village of Pai Tau and can be accessed by a stairway consisting of 431 steep steps. These are surrounded on both sides by statues of arhats, the Buddhist equivalent of the saints who have attained enlightenment.

Once in the monastery we see that it is really worth the climb. Its attraction is not only in the statues that flank the road, but that the most important thing is above. There are many statues and altars scattered throughout the Monastery. What impresses most is the room with thousands of figurines, all numbered and illuminated.

Once the visit was over, we retraced our steps, to the subway, to move to the next one, the Wong Tai Sin Temple. The first thing we see when leaving the metro is a shopping center. The divine is not at odds with the mundane.

The emblem of the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, to grant all wishes, is probably the reason for its popularity. Home to three religions (Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism), its natural environment and beautifully decorated buildings make it both a natural attraction and an important religious center.

The temple honors the memory of the legendary monk Wong Tai Sin, (also known as Huang Chu-ping). He was born in the fourth century and became a deity in Heng Shan (the Mountain of the Red Pine). In 1915, Taoist priest Liang Ren-an brought a portrait of Wong Tai Sin from Guangdong in southern China to Hong Kong.

Currently, the portrait is in the Wong Tai Sin temple. The devotees pray for good fortune with offerings, divine guidance and divination arts. Feng Shui enthusiasts will perceive structures that represent the five geomantic elements. There is the Bronze Pavilion (metal); the Hall of the Archives (wood); the Yuk Yik Fountain (water); the Yue Heung Shrine (fire), in which the Buddha lantern is venerated; and the Earth Wall (earth).

Other areas of the complex include the Salon of the Three Saints, the Confucian Hall and the extraordinarily colorful Garden of Good Wishes, richly decorated with Chinese elements. At the back of the enclosure there is a well-kept garden that transports us to a much quieter place. We cannot hear traffic noise with the place which is located in the center of a populous city.

We rest for a while in the tranquility of the gardens and go again to the subway that takes us to our last destination in the morning. The Nan Lian gardens with the Chi Lin monastery, are together. We reach through the infinity of towering Diamond Hill apartment buildings. The peaceful Nan Lian Garden, a Tang dynasty-style public park, meanders through.

In this idyllic carefully designed garden, each hill, rock, pond, plant and wooden structure has been placed following a specific method and guidelines. It has permanent exhibits of plants, rocks and Chinese wood architecture. The hungry can pay a visit to the vegetarian restaurant or the tea house.

The exhibition of Chinese architecture is really impressive with wood models. It is worth noting the collection of bonsai and the ponds with colorful tents that are found in the gardens, another oasis of peace in the middle of the city.

We continue with the Monastery, and the architecture, cleanliness and silence that reigns in it is really impressive. The main prayer room has large golden Buddha figures, but in this place they do not allow taking pictures.

The Chi Lin Monastery is composed of a large ensemble of elegant wooden architecture temples that houses valuable Buddhist relics and relaxing ponds. The set also includes a series of rooms in which we can see statues of wood, clay and gold representing divinities such as Buddha Sakyamuni and bodhisattvas.

The next step was to go to eat, and for that we go to the best nearby shopping center. In Asia life would not be understood without shopping centers, clean and complete in terms of clothing, electronics and fast food shops. We decided on a coffee and dessert.

And the afternoon we dedicate it to the markets. The markets are also well-stocked. The ones we visit can be done on foot, always moving around the axis of the Kowloon neighborhood, Natand Road. We started with the market of the plants. In reality it is an area full of shops that sell flowers and everything related to the crop.

The flower market of Hong Kong is an exotic jungle full of flowers and aromas in which it is worth submerging. The dozens of stores and wholesale distributors there sell auspicious flowers and plants of luck to an enthusiastic crowd of people throughout the year. But the arrival of the Chinese New Year is the moment of maximum fervor. Many families come to the market to carefully select the flowers and plants that bring luck and fortune to the new lunar cycle.

Then the market for fish, which like the plants are dozens of stores that are on the same street all dedicated to the sale of live fish and all kinds of items for aquariums. Feng Shui adepts consider colorful fish aquariums more than just a pretty picture. They are also a good omen and can bring good luck, so it is not surprising that this popular mascot is omnipresent in Hong Kong.

The street Tung Choi Street North (better known as the goldfish market), is full, on both sides. We see shops dedicated to the breeding of many types of fish, from the goldfish with the best forms. The colorful tropical species has high price tags that could leave anyone breathless.

And, in the middle of all these fish there are the odd amphibians and reptiles crawling on the ground, not forgetting the impressive saltwater aquariums with corals. The truth was that the variety, quantity and people that were in the area dedicated to aquariums were impressive. We continue and begin to see other types of animals.

We leave the fish and animals, and we enter another market, the one known as Lady Market. This is a market spread across several streets, crowded with stalls and people with clothing, accessories and souvenir stands at bargain prices. The Ladies' Market on Tung Choi Street stretches for a whole kilometer so we can put our bargaining skills into practice. There is everything from watches, cosmetics, bags, household items, CDs and objects of all kinds.

We end up with the Lady Market and continue through crowded streets on the way to the end of the day, the Night Market of Tempel Street. At dusk, merchants have already removed their merchandise and opera singers and fortune tellers begin to arrive. The Temple Street Night Market is a popular street market, named after Tin Hau Temple, located in the center of its main street. Its lush atmosphere has served as the backdrop for many memorable films.

There are trinkets, crockery for tea, electronic products, watches, men's clothing, jade and antiques and bargains, while bowls of rice, seafood, noodles and sweets are consumed with appetite. The Temple Street Night Market is a permanent example of the entertainment and animation of a Chinese market. And it is represented every night!

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