Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hong Kong | Day Four

A line up of Stormtroopers outside the museum

Nathan was very fittingly wearing his Darth Vader t-shirt 😁
On our last day in Hong Kong we planned to visit two museums, the Science Museum, and the History Museum, which are right next to each other. After we got up, we went to the bakery near our guesthouse and bought some things for breakfast, which we ate in the local park. I love that there are so many parks in Hong Kong, each neighborhood has one and they were so well maintained. That morning, we watched as a gardener came along and swept the ground, and then splashed some water on the ground and spot cleaned with a scrubby brush. We were very impressed! Haha

Comic books in the toys exhibit

Entrance to the toys exhibit

Testing out the slinky toy

Timeline of toys

Interactive! Building blocks for kids (and kids at heart) to play with

An activity book for kids to fill out as they walk through the museum

Paper doll toys

An assortment of robots

Matchbox cars

Sylvanian Family toys

A collection of Barbie dolls

Disney Princess dolls

A cool Transformers collection

More Star Wars toys
Anyway, after breakfast we walked to the museums, which were just about to open. Straight away we were already excited for the special exhibit in the History Museum, when we saw about a hundred Stormtrooper figurines lined up along the entrance to the museum. The special exhibit running at the moment is "The Legend of Hong Kong Toys", an exhibit all about Hong Kong's history as one of the leading producers of children's toys. We had such fun walking through the exhibit, looking at all of the toy collections and reliving our childhoods full of these fun toys. The first part of the exhibition was even an interactive display, with big building blocks, Viewmasters, slinkys and other fun toys to play with. I was also impressed by the fact that the museum had put together activity books for kids to do as they walk around the museum, filled with games and questions to answer.

Trees inside the History Museum

An old style baby carrier, decorated with patches

A life sized boat inside the museum

The permanent exhibit in the museum is "The Hong Kong Story", which goes through everything from the natural environment of Hong Kong, the people and the culture, and how it came to be the "modern metropolis" that it is today. The exhibit is huge, and comprises of 8 galleries, the last few of which we had to hurry through, because Charlotte was becoming cranky and needed a nap! haha
Overall though, the museum was excellent, and very interesting. Charlotte loved looking at the toys in the special exhibit, and kept making funny noises at the ones she liked.

After the History Museum, we took Charlotte out for a walk so she could have a quick nap, and then we ate lunch. Next, we walked back to explore the Science Museum, which was just fantastic. The museum is on four floors, and is divided into different sections, like food science, mathematics, electricity, and life sciences. Almost every display is interactive, with a short text to go along with each activity, explaining the different sciences. The museum was packed with kids of all ages, and it all looked like so much fun. Even though Charlotte is too little to do any of the activities, she still really enjoyed watching the other children, and looking at the exhibits.

We were so impressed with both museums that we visited, and the best part is that it cost so little to visit them! The History Museum's permanent exhibit is actually free, so we just paid HK$10 each (US$1.28) for the toy's exhibit. Then the Science Museum was only HK$20 (US$2.57). That is so awesome!

I hope you enjoyed reading all about our stay in Hong Kong.
Next up will be what we got up to in Taiwan :)

Hannah xx

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hong Kong | Day Three

Tai O Fishing Village

The stilt houses of Tai O

Nathan and Charlotte trying some grilled octopus

Trying to spot dolphins on a short hike from the village


graves set into the mountainside

  Since we were in Hong Kong for only 5 nights, we wanted to make sure we explored as much as possible of this massive metropolis. Before we arrived, I started researching what there is to see and do in Hong Kong, and I learnt that there are actually several areas that make up Hong Kong, including Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong Island, and several other islands off the coast. The two most visited islands of Hong Kong are probably Lamma Island, which I blogged about last, and Lantau Island, home to the famous Tai O fishing village, and the Big Buddha. There is also a cable car that runs from Tung Chung, a city on Lantau Island, to Po Lin Monastery, which is where the Big Buddha is located. Unfortunately for us, the cable car wasn't running while we were visiting, due to maintenance on the cable line. There are still bus connections running all over the island though, so we decided to visit anyway.

We started our day by taking the ferry across from Central in Hong Kong, to Mui Wo, a town on the island. We then had to take a bus from there to Tai O village. The village is set among the mountains, on the western coast of Lantau, and is a traditional fishing village, which has now become popular for tourists who come to try the dried fish, and photograph the stilt houses standing up in the water.
The village is quite pretty with the mountains in the background, but it is very touristy, and all the shops set up in the village are all selling the same types of dried fish, and the same souvenirs. We have also seen stilt houses already in a lot of places in Vietnam and Cambodia, so this wasn't a particularly unique sight. However, we knew there must be something more to this village, and we were right.

Keep walking past the crowds of tourists, past the fish markets, past the people trying to sell you a boat tour, and you will find a path leading up to a set of stairs. There are hardly any tourists up here, and you will wonder why, as this surely must be the best part of Tai O? The stairs led us to an amazing viewpoint of the ocean in front of us, and the mountains behind us, with graves and tombs set into the mountainside. Apparently this spot is also a good dolphin watching place, but we did not see any. I did manage to trip on the stairs going down though, and gave myself a bloody, grazed knee 😝

At Ngong Ping village

The Big Buddha

the Big Buddha covered by clouds

Baby has a nap

Po Lin Monastery

Amazing vine covered trees

After exploring Tai O, we then took another bus to Ngong Ping village, where the Big Buddha, and Po Lin Monastery are located. Tian Tan Buddha, as it is formally known as, is a bronze buddha statue sitting at 34m high on top of a mountain, with 268 steps to climb up to the base of the statue. When we visited, the entire village was basically inside a cloud, and the clouds would occasionally shift and allow us a view of the statue. It was a very interesting experience walking through the clouds!
While the Buddha statue is relatively new, being built in 1993 as a part of the monastery, the monastery itself was founded in 1906, and is beautifully surrounded by lush green trees.

The village next to the monastery is of course very touristy, but still quite pretty. We stopped and had lunch there, before taking a bus down to Tung Chung, where we caught the metro back to our airbnb. This was actually the first time we had taken the metro in Hong Kong, and we were pleasantly surprised by how clean the train was, and how organized the stations are. After traveling in SE Asia for so long, with practically zero public transport available, it sure was a nice change to experience a reliable form of public transport! Actually, the metro was so nice, and very fast, that we wished we had just taken it at the start of the day, rather than taking the ferry to the island. The metro is so convenient, and even on a weekend day it wasn't too crowded.

Thanks for reading :)
Hannah xx