Thursday, January 29, 2015

Touring Hong Kong

Today was our big touring day.  We wanted to see as much as possible and hit all of the hots spots.  We heard the best way to do this is with the Big Red Bus tour.  The double decker bus takes you all around town while you listen to a head set that tells you what you are seeing.  The bonus is you get to get on and off the bus as you wish.  You also get to ride the ferry for free throughout the day.  So that is exactly what we did!
We took the ferry over to the main island to start our bus tour!
I think before our sightseeing began we learned that we were also a fun attraction.  We had several people taking pictures of our kids!  Some even asked to take pictures with our kids, especially Ethan!  I love how he has even learned the "peace sign" they all make in pictures!  It is a bit hard for me to see Ethan get extra attention while the big kids watch.  I whisper in their ears that when they were little and we traveled the same things happened to them!  We have several pictures like this with the other kids and complete strangers!
Top deck of the bus and ready to explore!
Loving the view!

A bit windy and chilly but that didn't stop us from enjoying the ride.  If you ever go visit Hong Kong I suggest spending a day on the Red Bus!  It didn't disappoint!  Keep reading to see all of the stops the bus took us to and all of the things we got to experience!
One of the stops you can get off at is the Peak Tram.  This tram takes you STRAIGHT up (27 degrees to horizontal) to the Peak.
This is the tram headed up the steep slope, and this isn't even the steepest part!
All of the seats are facing backwards to prevent people from falling off the benches on the way back down to the Garden Road Peak Tram station.

We made it to the top!!!  Ready to explore and see a new perspective of the Hong Kong skyline!
When you get off the tram you are at the bottom of a tall mall.  We started riding the escalator to the top not knowing what to expect.  We saw an area where you could go outside to a pizza restaurant so we went to check it out hoping to get a great view.  The pizza place was closed and it was super windy and chilly but we tried to take a few pictures not knowing if this was our best opportunity for a photo opt at the top of Hong Kong.

We went back inside and got back on the escalator to see how high it would take us.
There was a Bubba Gump restaurant a few flights higher and they had a great view so we decided to stop for a snack.  Here we learned, or confirmed, what we had been experiencing during our trip.  The culture here is about following the rules.  I, well I like to bend the rules.  Getting a table by the window was a perfect example.
The hostess wanted to sit us a a booth that wasn't by the window however, there was a window table open so I requested that seat.  For her, it wouldn't work for us because it was a table for 4 and we were 5 people.  I tried to explain that we didn't need the extra seat, our little guy could sit in a high chair and we weren't eating a meal so we didn't need so much space.  She wasn't buying into it.  Nope, we had to sit at the booth big enough for 5 people.  I just couldn't.... the window view was calling my name.  So when she left.... we moved over.  And then I just didn't make any more eye contact with her.  She came back to see that we had moved and she had a confused look on her face and then walked away probably knowing it was useless!  Darn American rule breakers!
We got a cold drink, a hot appetizer, and enjoyed the view while we rested our legs and prepared for our journey to the very top of The Peak!
Finally we found out you could go ALL THE WAY to the top of the Peak!  Finally we were outside, where it was very cold and foggy, on the Sky Terrace 428.  We are standing at 428 metres above sea level, on the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong. 
We had an amazing 360-degree panoramic view across the Hong Kong.  It was breath taking, both from beauty and from cold!
After we had enough view (and enough cold) we took the tram back down to the bottom.  This time we got a front seat so we could fully experience the steep view!
We hopped back on the Red Bus and took it over to the area where all of the restaurants and things were, the area Brad and I had visited last night.
It was now the kids' turn to go exploring!
Our first stop in the shopping district was the home brew store!!!  Brad had looked up and found there was a brew store in the area so we just had to go check it out!!  Let me say this, even with an address in hand, finding a specific place in Hong Kong isn't so easy.  Tiny little store fronts or doorways that lead to steep steps to empty halls that look like you are in the wrong place and then all of a sudden you stumble into the right place.  Honestly, I didn't think we were ever going to find this place!
But we did.... and this was Brad's version on Disneyland! : )
The home brew scene is becoming very popular in Hong Kong and we were able to sample some of the brews while Brad shopped!
Then it was time to take the kids Mid-Level Escalators and explain to them that they were on the longest covered moving walkway in the world!

While walking through the restaurants we stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant!  Any one of our favorites we miss while in Saudi!!  Chips, salsa, and cheese dip all around please and a michelada for mom and dad!
From the restaurant area we could walk over to Man Mo Temple.  This was another stop on the route so we knew that after exploring we could hop on the bus to continue our tour!
Photography is not allowed inside so we took most of our pictures outside.
A quick snapshot inside!!!  LOTS and LOTS of smoke in the air from all of the burning incense.
We learned that this is one of the most photographed temples in Hong Kong because of its unique circular incenses hanging from the ceiling.
Back on the bus to head over to Kowloon and to head down the very LONG Nathan road.  We did a full trip around Kowloon island to explore it all and also to let Ethan take a quick nap.  After a full tour we got off to explore the market area.
First stop, the Jade Market.  Honestly, we have been to several markets around the world now and this was not one of my favorites.  A lot of the same thing over and over again.  We didn't spend much time shopping here.

We also toured the Night Market.  Turned out to be a lot of adult "toys" that were at every other booth.  Not something we were use to seeing out and in such quantity.  There was also just a lot of other "junk".  Nothing souvenir worthy or anything we really needed.  Walking around and taking in the local fruit and veggie market and seeing all of the little restaurants along the way was fun to take in!

At this point it is late and we are all hungry.  Time to call it a day.  It was our last night in Hong Kong so we knew we had to finally let out pick out his fish from the window for dinner!   And that is exactly what he did!  He was so excited!
Here is Owen with his steamed Grouper!  Comes out just like it looked in the fish tank! I thought it would be a turn off but everyone was excited about it.
Brad also wanted to indulge in a local specialty so he ordered peaking duck!  I wasn't super thrilled about how it came out but luckily it didn't stay long on our table like this!
To be truthful, I ordered sweet and sour pork.  It was SO good the other day and I was craving it.  Plus, I wasn't SO sure how these other unique foods would be taken so I wanted a back up.  Turns out I didn't need it.  The fish and duck were demolished!  GONE!  The server carves the duck and leaves it with the crispy skin for you to eat.  Then about 15 minutes later a new dish with the rest of the duck is served!  Amazing!  So good.  We left SO full!  All of us!
We had one last little treat in mind for the kids to wrap up the day.  We had found a self serve frozen yogurt place like the ones back home and we just knew we HAD to take them!
They were SO surprised and so happy!  A little treat from home!
Another trip to the amazing Harbor light show!  Perfect ending to an amazing trip!  Thank you Hong Kong for the memories!  I have to say this has been one of my/ our favorite vacations.  It was so easy to get around, so much to see, the people were great.  It was busy but an organized chaos.  If you are looking for a place in Asia to visit I highly recommend Hong Kong!  I hope one day we can go back!

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