Macau, China

We decided an organised day trip with a tour group was the best way to explore Macau from Hong Kong. Macau, like Hong Kong is an autonomous territory or Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, and whilst having its own currency Hong Kong dollars are widely accepted in most places.

Our day started with a fast ferry from Hong Kong to Macau, the ferry was actually really comfortable and the trip only took an hour. Once we got through customs and immigration in Macau we boarded our coach and commenced our day trip.

As this was a day trip, our itinerary and the places of interest we stopped at were pre-organised for us, our experience and this blog of our time in Macau is limited. We found Macau to be a strange mix of both tradition and the outrageous opulence it’s most known for.

Here are photos of The Kun Lam Statue and Macau Tower. While we had a look around the tower, watching people bungy jumping from the top – it is the highest commercial bungy jump in the world!

The Grand Lisboa Casino and Studio City, James Packer’s Casino. Those circles you can see in the middle of Studio City is a figure 8 ferris wheel!

The Venetian Macao is an incredible hotel, shopping mall and casino. The sky that you can see is actually the ceiling with painted clouds and special lighting. The effect is mind blowing!


A-Ma Temple (Ma Kok Miu). Our tour guide told us a story of how Macau was named. Apparently when a lost Portuguese sailing ship landed here by accident they tried to get help. Not having a common language, the sailors tried to find out their location from some Monks at this temple and mistook what they were saying not as “Ma Kok Miu” but as “Macau”.

The amazing ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral. This church has burned down but the facade has remained as a free standing structure. A great testament to building things properly. Interestingly enough there is a small local temple next to the church ruins that is dedicated to a god that burns everything around them!

The Grand Emperor Hotel is partially owned by Jacky Chan, it has gold bars on the floor at its entrance. Of course the gold bars are encased in unbreakable resin. There is also a Feng Shui mirror on the column in the photo below which is rumoured to have cost a million US dollars!  Strangely you are not allowed to take photos of the mirror front on, only from the side.

It was a fabulous day and we’d highly recommend checking out Macau if visiting Hong Kong.

Destination: China Macau

The Peak, Hong Kong – During the Day

As mentioned in our previous post being able to pick the right day to visit the Peak is a luxury we’ve had whilst based in Hong Kong for a bit. The Fog and smog coming across from mainland China can often mean the view from The Peak is disappointing. This handy link to a webcam that streams live footage from The Peak makes it easy to identify whether it’s the right time to visit. The Peak Webcam.

We decided to explore The Peak area a little more extensively by taking a taxi to the top of Victoria Peak Gardens via Mount Austin Road. It is possible to walk up to the Gardens, however if you’re short of time, short of fitness or just want to enjoy a leisurely walk down to The Peak Galleria then the taxi option is a good one.

It’s a beautiful spot, the gardens are well maintained and the view from here is lovely.

The Mount Austin Playground is lovely and a great spot for a picnic or to take a rest before making the rest of the way down to The Peak Galleria.

Across the road from the The Peak Galleria is a great cafe called The Peak Lookout. It gets very busy so you’d be lucky to get a table without reservation unless visiting early. We can recommend the Tiramisu!

There are lots of other food options across the road in the main Galleria/Tower buildings, it’s a nice place to spend a few hours when visiting the Peak.

Whilst there is a free viewing platform the Sky Terrace is, we believe, the best vantage point. It costs $50HK per person and the 360 degree views make it value for money.

A fun way back down from the Peak to Central is via the Peak Tram. You can use your MTR Octopus card to pay for your trip and it’s quite the experience going down – backwards!

This is a popular tourist activity, both going up to the Peak and back down, and our advice is to be early, especially if you plan to use it to go to the Peak from Central. As the photos below indicate, the line up around lunch time on a Saturday were incredible – we were pleased not to be stuck waiting!

Update: Another great reason to visit the peak – Gordon Ramsay has now moved his restaurant, Bread Street Kitchen, from the Lan Kwai Fong hotel to The Peak Galleria!

Destination: China Hong Kong

The Peak, Hong Kong – At Night

For months now we’ve been waiting and hoping with fingers crossed for a perfect fog and smog free night, to get some great pictures from The Peak at sunset and night.

This incredibly handy link to a webcam that streams live footage from The Peak has made it super easy to do so The Peak Webcam.

A quick check of the webcam confirmed our suspicions that after a stunning day it was indeed the perfect evening to dash up to The Peak. We were incredibly lucky as the number 15 bus that travels along Queens Road East in Wan Chai all the way to the Peak Galleria is only a 5 minute walk from our apartment.

The sequence of four photos below were taken from Bec’s iPhone. The view is from the Peak Sky Terrace, entry is $50HK each and whilst there is a free public viewing platform, we believe the Terrace is the best option to see the view.

The next group of photos Keith took from our Cannon Camera as the sun was setting, looking across Hong Kong Island toward Kowloon.

And finally after sunset, the lights and skyline of Hong Kong come alive.  

It’s worth the jostling crowd on a perfect night to experience such an incredible transformation of this beautiful city.

Destination: China Hong Kong

Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Lantau Island is twice the size of Hong Kong Island and the largest among some 256 islands within the Hong Kong Territory.

The quickest and most direct way to travel to Lantau Island if using pubic transport is by Ferry. The ordinary ferry takes about an hour however the fast ferry takes only 40 minutes. Both depart from Central Pier # 5 quite regularly and are noted as the Mui Wo Service. Take care though to note the weather forecast as during monsoon season ferry services can be cancelled.

After researching what we wanted to see on the Island it became clear that the taxi service there is quite limited and so getting around to see everything on our own would be an issue. We decided the best option would be to join a guided tour for the day. As you can see from the picture below when we arrived on the Island there were no taxi’s waiting at the ferry terminal.

Our first stop on the tour was Cheung Sha Beach. Whilst the longest beach on the island (around 3km) it’s not the most spectacular but definitely one of the easiest to access by road. It’s patrolled during the peak season and has a large shark netted area. It was quite pretty, however, we’re quite spoilt when it comes to beaches in Australia.

We then continued on to the fishing village of Tai O. This little village has an interesting history, from being a popular hiding place for pirates and smugglers to a hotspot for illegal immigrants. Historically it has been known as a fishing village and a producer of salt, today it is more about tourism. As we walked through the village it was hard not to be overwhelmed, I’ll let the pictures below explain.

The village is located mostly on the banks of the river, so the houses are on stilts, not sure how safe I’d feel living in one during monsoon season! We boarded a small boat and enjoyed seeing such a unique community going about its normal day.

Before leaving Tai O we visited Kwan Tai Temple, made a ‘wish’ and donated to the temple before heading off to the highlight of our trip, the Giant Buddha.

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha, located near Po Lin Monastery. It symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. Another advantage of taking our tour was that the bus deposited us at the ‘rear’ of the statue meaning we avoided having to climb the 268 steps otherwise required to get to the top. The view overlooking the Monastery and surrounding mountains was spectacular.

Once we’d had a look around we then explored the Buddhist Po Lin Monastery. It’s a fairly large place and the architecture was really impressive. We had one of the best vegetarian meals we’ve ever had for lunch, it was incredibly fresh and I’m assuming because they’d been told to expect us as a tour group the service was really efficient and friendly.

The view of the Giant Buddha from the Monastery was amazing, highlighting all those steps we were so happy to avoid!

Definitely a wonderful day trip not to be missed in Hong Kong.

Note: Unfortunately during our time in Hong Kong the Ngong Ping Cable Car was closed undergoing maintenance. Our research indicates that most of the guided tours such as the one we went on usually incorporate the Cable Car as part of the experience.

Destination: China Hong Kong

Hong Kong Park

Whilst based in the Wan Chai area I decided to take a walk to the nearby Hong Kong Park. It’s a lovely park in between Wan Chai and Central and has a lot of things to see. Even the walk there is pretty, below are a couple of snaps I took along the way.


Right in the middle of the park is a man made lake that is split up into sections. There is a large waterfall feeding the lake. Although some rather large koi carp call it home, there are also many, many turtles!



Above the lake – which you can get to by walking behind the waterfall pictured above – there is a conservatory that houses lots of different species of flowers. Entry is free and it has a number of areas to explore. The main area is for showing off orchids.



There is also an area for “dry plants” – cactus mainly – and a humid zone which has it’s own waterfall as well. This area is mostly succulents and bromeliads and my favourite, the bat flower. The flowers look just like little bats hanging from the plant!


From the conservatory, a short walk takes you to the Tai Chi Garden. I highly recommend it. A tranquil place of relaxation, it is small but very pretty.

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One of the best features is the “Vantage Point” – a high tower with a steep spiral staircase that takes you to the top. However, I do need to issue a fair warning. The 30 metre high tower has 105 very steep stairs that are quite challenging, especially in the heat or if you are really unfit (don’t ask me how I found that out). As you climb the stairs and at the top, the view is well worth it.


Once you’ve stopped sweating after coming back down those stairs, right next door to the garden is the walk through aviary. I wouldn’t put this on my must see list, but while you’re there, it is worth a look.

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And this guy, who worked out a great way to get a drink!


Since Hong Kong Island is naturally very steep in many places, I found that I’d wound my way up to the top of the park. I had a look at an exhibition at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre put on by a couple of local artists.

I then made my way back via Kennedy Road, I thought it would be nice to see a different view and was not disappointed. The way that urban Hong Kong constantly blends with nature is something I really love about this place.


The road that takes me to where I’m staying is called Wan Chai Gap Road and it’s very small, but ridiculously steep. It’s also part of the Wan Chai Green Trail that is a really steep 1.5 km walk and is surround by nature.

Although part of that nature likes to be included in the trail!


After my long walk back, I realised that I had been so busy, I’d barely even looked out of the window of my hotel room. When I did, there were some interesting and unique items to note.

The first, this weird building that almost looks like a Gehry. It kind of looks like a normal sky scraper that has been twisted once it was plonked on the side of the hill!


The second, a neighbour in a nearby building has some strange pets….


Destination: China Hong Kong

Central and Hong Kong Zoo

Hi, Keith here. I’m in Hong Kong at the moment and took some time out to do a little exploring.

To me, there seems to be two sides to Hong Kong. The first is an incredibly busy bustling metropolis straight out of a cyberpunk novel. The other side is the abundant beauty of nature. These two elements seem to happily coexist in Hong Kong.

I went for a walk from Wan Chai where I’m staying on Hong Kong island and headed toward Central – probably the busiest part of the island. Along the way there I found the quaint, the traditional and the modern all mashed up together in a confined space.


This photo below, for me, sums up everything that is the city in Hong Kong.


Apart from immersing myself in the city, I wanted to do something gimmicky that screamed tourist. Some research before I left helped me to find the perfect attraction – the Mid Level Escalators of Central. When I read that it is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, I had to see it for myself. I was not disappointed.

Although it was really busy – and it only goes up – it’s almost a relaxing way to see the groovy bars and restaurants nestled in the back streets between skyscrapers. In fact, it’s like an extremely boring roller coaster.img_4817img_4820

I had no intention of walking back down the stairs that run alongside the escalator, but at the top you’re left in a kind of no-man’s land on a random street. I saw a sign for the Hong Kong Zoo and decided to head for that.

The walk was actually amazing. As I said before, Hong Kong has this strange symbiotic relationship between city and nature. In fact it sometimes crossed over with man made structures almost taking on an organic form.


At the outset, I have to say that I don’t like zoos. Regardless of the positive points, I just find that majestic animals kept in cages feels sad to me. Let me sum up my zoo experience and ethos in one photo.


Now that I’ve got that out of the way, the really strange animals you see at the zoo are the humans.

One little boy I saw was incredibly excited and yanked on his father’s hand to exclaim, “Daddy, daddy, look! A charmander!” Yes, he was playing Pokemon Go! at the zoo. At least they were doing a family outing.

I’m not really sure what’s going on in the next picture, as I was afraid to ask. I did try to google it, but got even more scared. Basically from what I could work out, this group of people came together to put their dolls on camera tripods, dress them and comb their hair and chat about that. I’m not one to judge and to each their own, but it was definitely interesting to see.


Apart from weird animals, there were some nice walks and view points to see in the park surrounding the zoo. All in all it was a very relaxing large park in the middle of a very busy city.


On the walk back, I kept coming across this nature versus city motif. But, much to my delight, it seemed that at times nature was winning.

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Destination: China Hong Kong