Hong Kong 14
First time since 2019 /
This is my 14th trip to Hong Kong - in the
same period (since 2006 - 17 years), Helen has visited at least
two additional times. Why so many trips? We have family in Hong
Kong and Hong Kong has served as our base for exploring other
parts of Asia. COVID hasn't been easy in Hong Kong - for many
years, you could only visit Hong Kong with a long period in a
quarantine hotel on your dollar. For more than a year, Hong Kong
was only accepting people with a valid Hong Kong ID card. That
said, things change and in late 2022 the rules softened and by
March 2023 Hong Kong was completely open to visitors. Nara and
Claira lamented that there last visit (2019) was when they were 7
and 9 years old and they were having trouble remembering the
place. This was their chance to renew those memories and make some
Of course, every trip has it's bumps. We were supposed to fly out
very early Saturday morning. We were lucky we kept an eye on the
flights because Cathay delayed our flight 24 hours so we actually
flew out very early Sunday morning.
Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve
I think it's easier to get over jet lag
if you get some real sunlight in your new timezone. The kids
have some positive memories of Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve so we
decided to make that one of our first outings on this trip.
When we got out there we discovered it's been a dry and somewhat
cold spring so there wasn't a lot of butterfly life but as the day
warmed up, more insects came out.
Our favorite butterfly that we saw that day
was the Red-base Jezebel - with bright yellows, reds and
whites. This butterfly was patient in a tree so we got a
good look at it as it fed on the flowers.
We spotted other smaller butterflies, but not as many as some
Mai Po Marshes
There is a magical moment at Mai Po
Marshes when the tide comes in brings birds ever closer to the
blind you are sitting in. Given that the park is only open
day time hours, there are only so many days of a month where you
can see this in action. I was luck enough that this happened
to fall in the first week of our visit to Hong Kong so I had the
time to get a naturalist permit for myself and Nara and spend a
great day out looking at birds.
I have visited Mai Po Marshes enough times that the marshes have
their own tag on my website. I visited in 2018
(Hong Kong 12)
, 2017 (Hong Kong 11)
(Hong Kong 10)
, 2014 (Hong Kong 9)
and my very first trip to Hong
Kong in 2006
. While there are a lot of group tours
available, many of them are large groups walking around several
sites in the reserve. This is the first year that Nara is
old enough to come as an overseas naturalist and walk with me out
to the blinds.
After walking past the inland ponds you come to the fence to the
Frontier Closed Area. This is basically the boundary of Hong
Kong and this huge fence has a simple latch gate to let you though
onto the floating boardwalks in Mangrove wetlands.
The boardwalks are a bit tricky to navigate with a big camera bag
and a tripod, especially if you stop to take photos of wildlife
along the way. I've seen a few insects out here that I
thought were pretty cool and you can often see the crabs and
sometimes mud skippers on the mud shoreline. Eventually you
get to the elevated boardwalks (we ran into some University
students updating their projects) and then onto the blinds.
That first opening of the shutters to see what is outside on the
shore is like opening gifts - you are full of anticipation and you
are rarely disappointed.
One of the other photographers in the
blind pointed out a Pied Kingfisher on a nearby post. This
Kingfisher is a new species for me, but one I've wanted to see on
all of previous trips to the Marshes. Mai Po marshes
"mascot" is the Pied Kingfisher so seeing it is a real treat.
This bird stuck around for quite a while - flying out to
hit a fish in a stream of water and then return to a post to dry
off and settle for it's next fishing trip.
There are a lot of "reliable sightings" at Mai Po - the migration
brings large flocks of Pied Avocet and a variety of other
shorebirds. There are resident species - Great
Cormorants, Chinese Pond Herons and dozens of other species are
commonly found here.
From the ocean side blind, there is a wide variety things to pay
attention. The water is coming in so you watch the birds
pushed ashore. Close to the blind you might see Chinese Pond
Herons or Egrets going after Mud Skippers. Somewhere in
between, you can small birds pulling food out of puddles. It's
hard to know where to look, but when you hear someone else's camera
start snapping, you better find where the action is.
Those last few moments when the tide eventually comes to the blind
is really special. I was quite happy to see Black-faced Spoonbill
wade into the shallow water looking for food.
It's a bit of a walk back to the road and it's time to get back to
town. I figured I'd be easy to take an Uber, but surprisingly
the app didn't have options available except a walk to find a green
mini-bus. The Marsh office was kind enough to call us a
taxi. What a fantastic day.
Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po is one of my favorite
neighborhoods because it has fewer Starbucks and more interesting
markets. Their are a few bead shops the kids love, but there
are also a ton of textile stores.
The bead stores have a lot of "bulk" plastic beads at reasonable
prices and then a bunch of fancy things that drive your total bill
up. They have lots of inspiring projects on the horizontal
surfaces which expand what your kids want to buy.
Sham Shui Po is also where (perhaps a long time ago), Hong Kong
did a lot of textile manufacturing. Textile work has long
since moved to China so most of the shop are basically fronts for
office back in China, but they do usually have samples of things
that can be convenient for home projects. The selection sure
beats what is available in store in Vancouver, and it's easier to
work with than what is on Aliexpress.
The only substantial pieces of fabric I
bought were from a street seller near an outdoor restaurant.
The prices were good (30 HKD per yard, roughly $5 CAD a yard) and
while his selection was small, he did have some nice chinese
themed fabrics. Good find for me!
Man Mo Temple
The first time I went to Man Mo temple (2007
I felt like I had been transported back in time to just after the
British Colonized Hong Kong. The light is amazing, the
atmosphere is serene and the colors are vivid. Man Mo temple
is listed in the "What to do in Hong Kong" on most travel
itineraries, but I have never seen the place busy.
Strange. I've visited a few times since my first (2009
), making this
my fourth visit.
The temple itself allows you to leave notes hope for good future
outcomes like good exam results or good health. The kids
wanted mom to explain a lot of this so Helen purchased some
incense sticks and the kids got to pray at some of the shrines.
From the temple we walked over to some of
the steep markets. These are generally high end vegetable
markets with really nice fruits and vegetables. I saw purple
brussel sprouts - the first time I have ever seen this
Our goal was the Dai Pai Dong's at the end
of Stanley Street. I don't know how much longer these
outdoor restaurants will be here (there are four in this block) so
I wanted to be sure the kids got to experience at least
once. That said, the food we got was quite salty - perhaps
the reason we were able to get chairs.
Tsing Yi Bridge
First time visit for me - I grabbed an Uber
from the hotel and went to a "View Point" as described on Google
Maps. The taxi dropped me off at the end of a street and I
walked across a parking lot, through a downed fence and onto a
surprisingly high seawall. The foreshore is very scary -
lots of cement blocks with a huge drop from the sea wall.
Tsing Yi is ground zero for shipping in Hong Kong. Of
course you can't go into the shipping yards but this viewpoint is
at the end of docks so if you are lucky you will see the cranes
loading and unloading right next to you.
I chose the view across the channel that include central and the
After the time lapse, I used Uber and had a ride in minutes to go
back to our hotel. I'm sure on future trips I'll be
exploring other view points at Tsing Yi.
Mong Kok Markets
Almost every trip to Hong Kong has me
spending time walking around Mong Kok taking photos like a
tourist. This town is just so photogenic. I'm not much
of an exotic car guy, but I was surprised how many were parked on
the street in Kowloon. I've seen lots of exotic cars in
Central (where the dealerships are) and Lantau (where long twisty
roads are found).
I took Nara our with her camera to see the goldfish market.
I hindsight - I regretted not bringing my 50mm lens. The
nifty fifty is basically the perfect lens for this market -
shallow depth of field, good close focus and it works even with
There stores targeting different levels of consumes. The
cheapest option is the "gold fish in a bag" for a few
dollars. Mid range stores offer a variety of small fish an
aquarium equiptment like a mall pet store in North America.
The high end stores specialize in a handful of fish (and each fish
is easily $100) or saltwater aquariums with corals and
anemones. My favorite are the huge aquariums that look like
mountains with fish floating over the landscape.
We took a walk over the flower market. The shops were just
opening so most of the plants were still in buckets having arrived
from the auctions.
Our last destination was the bird market.
Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve
The kids wanted to just stay home in the
hotel and I wanted a walk so I decided to catch the train and a
taxi and go for a walk at Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. I've
been here before - Back in 2017 (Hong Kong 11)
I went to the park with Naturalist David Diskin.
The first time you visit a place, you don't really have
expectations so it's easy to be excited with the results.
Your second visit has expectations which may be unreasonable to
How did I do this time? I learned a few things. When
you go to a new part of the world, the first time you see a new
thing, even if it's common, it's still special. Locals can
even laugh at you for taking photos of common animals. After
doing research, I found out just how many animals can be seen in
this park and it makes me want to visit even more.
Hong Kong Disneyland!
Hong Kong Disneyland has seen better
days. I think the COVID closures was hard to Disneyland, but
the lack of tourists coming to Hong Kong has been worse. The
park is now open 5 days a week and a lot of favorite show (the
night parade) have been canceled. There are some new rides
and experiences, but the overall experience is less than years
When you first get into the park, rides
have short lines. Your first ride is basically line up
free. Where did the kids want to go? Dumbo Flying
After the Dumbo ride, we went to the Toy Story part of the park
and enjoyed a few more short lineup rides. The kids
discovered (watching other kids) that there is a single line-up
and they got to ride the parachute drop three times in the time
Helen took to line up once.
But it doesn't take long for the line ups to get longer. We
went to haunted mansion tour (it's indoor and cool) and then saw
the Mickey Philharmonic before having lunch. After lunch, we
wanted something less violent so we went to another favorite - the
Jungle River Cruise.
Lunch settled, we tried a few more rides. The Mad Hatter
And then the small world ride. The
small world ride was closed earlier in the day and the app told us
the ride just opened so we were luck to get on the ride with
almost no lineup.
Nan Lian Garden
First time visiting Nan Lian Garden - a
garden is a short walk from Diamond Hill MTR station. It's
actually a city park (no admission charge!) that was opened in
2006 that is connected to the older Chi Lin Nunnery. The
park is very new, but the plants are mature and filling in nicely.
The kids really enjoyed time in the hotel,
but I wanted to go out to a newer place. We have a few
favorites outside of the city - Shek O has a great beach and Tai O
has interesting boat rides and metal houses - but we decided to go
to and Island I haven't been to since 2008 - Cheung Chau
We met Jennie at the ferry terminal in central and grabbed the
11am fast ferry to Cheung Chau.
Being there mid week in the off
season, the island was almost quiet. We had the beach to
ourselves and the kids wanted to go swimming. In classic Hong
Kong, the life guards weren't on duty so you weren't allow to go
swimming. Bummer. The beach had a ton of glass in the
sand (way more than any beach I have seen in Canada) so the kids had
fun picking up beach glass and bits of pottery in the sand.
They found a sea star in the sand (which turns out to be it's
habitat) so we put it back closer to the rocks. The rocks did
have some intertidal life on them which was quite impressive for
I had done some research in advance so we found a "paint it
yourself" art store. They do a pretty good business, but being
off season, off day we were the only people there. Claira
purchased a wooden letter, Nara a wooden box and they spent the next
two hours painting their hearts out. Helen and Jennie got a
nice walk and exploration in.
Being a beach community,
there is no shortage of Cafe's looking to take money from
visitors. We found some fantastic smoothies (they would make a
killing in Vancouver) and the kids kept painting.
Helen and I got a chance
for a walk around and see more of the island. This is a car
free island but there are a number of small vehicles to transport
heavy supplies. Sadly, they appear to use two stroke engines
so the ground pollution from them is probably as bad as half a dozen
4 stroke motors with catalytic converters. I'm hoping these
vehicles are replaced with the small electric farm vehicles you see
in China now.
While the retail here is competitive, it's there windows of retail
that time forgot. Helen found a candy store that had candy she
remembers from her childhood. She found a dry good store like
the kind before grocery stores became big. I found a store
where the poor worker had fallen asleep at the desk.
There was some fish drying (it rained a little that afternoon) and a
small temple that was mostly closed. Along the shoreline were
dozens of seafood restaurants, but many of them were closed because
of the small crowds.
The bakeries were still doing well.
Evening Walk around Nathan Road
The view down Nathan road is fantastic, but I'm not sure this
overpass is the best. Seeing the results, I might be better
standing in the middle of the road. Bear in mind that neon
signs are slowly disappearing from Hong Kong, replaced with much
cheaper LED signs.
Markets Around the Hotel
Because of COVID, there were plenty of hotel deals to choose
from. We picked the Cordis because of it's location closer to
our family, the discount for the long stay and because it was a
nicer hotel than what would normally be in our travel budget.
The hotel offered a complementary "market tour" every afternoon
which I never took advantage of. While waiting for our
departure, I decided to just walk around myself to take in the
In markets, the meat usually gets the shock value because North
America rarely sells meat the same way. Fruit then gets the
next level of interest because most fresh produce stores in North
America don't commonly stock Jack Fruit and durian.
Hong Kong has fantastic fish and vegetable vendors as well. In
truth, I could spend all day taking photos in markets.
A little further down the street is reclamation street - small
stores selling home improvement, building maintenance and tool
Tags: Hong Kong(46), Mai Po Nature Reserve(13), market(11), Man Mo Temple(7), time lapse(4), temple(4)
People: Claira(2), Helen(2), Nara(2), Jennie(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Hong Kong 14
Last Modified Saturday, June 3rd, 2023 at 22:37:45 Edit
Copyright and Contact Information.