We spent most of our time in Hong Kong in the Kowloon area. We were staying in Mong Kok, famous for its markets and being the most densely populated area in the world. It’s not as shiny and new as Hong Kong Island but there is a lot of development happening along the waterfront and given a few years I don’t it will be long until both sides look a lot more similar.
Although we missed the famous Temple Street Night Market (too busy chasing fire dragons) we did go round a few of the markets during the day and they were quite interesting. The salted fish did not smell at all pleasant but there were lots of unusual fruit and vegetables which were also quite large. In the indoor market it was interesting to see the fish stalls as it wasn’t just the lobsters (which you might expect to see) but a whole variety of fish which were still alive in tanks.
The jade market was also touted as something we should do and it was great to see the range of products available. However, prepare to be pestered by stallholders. We were pounced on almost straight away and even had stallholders following us through the market at one point who were really eager to sell their wares. This might have been exacerbated by the fact that at that point there were very few other obvious tourists in the market (everything including shops seem to open really late but then stay open a lot later as a result). We had no interest in buying anything as we had been warned that often the “jade” is fake, but we weren’t really given the opportunity to browse in peace.
My favourite thing that we did in Kowloon was take the MTR further inland to Diamond Hill to visit the Nan Lian Gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery. The gardens were absolutely beautiful and were very much an oasis of calm and tranquility in the centre of the big city, despite the fact they were pretty busy whilst we were there. One part I particularly enjoyed was the Rockery, which seemed to be a room which was dedicated to a range of polished rocks which were all accompanied by a proverb or saying. Some were beautifully poetic and others were just a little odd – I guess something was maybe lost in translation.
The nunnery was lovely and although it had been built in 1997 it had been designed to look older and more traditional. There was a pretty courtyard area before reaching the main hall where photographs were not permitted. There was a different Buddha statue on each side of the hall which were golden and represented different things. There was a great sense of peace in the nunnery, so much so that it felt like an entirely different place to the city we had arrived in a couple of days previously.
Whilst a lot of the must dos in Hong Kong involve being in quite a busy and crowded place, it is worth taking time to seek out somewhere a little quieter so that you don’t get overtaken by the city.