Hong Kong Island Things to Do

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    The view back to Central from the ferry
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    Fellow Star Ferry passing, heading to...
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Most Recent Things to Do in Hong Kong Island

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    Queen's Road

    by mikey_e Written Dec 27, 2010

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    The Coach store at night
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    Queen's Road, together with Connaught, exemplify the Hong Kong that inhabits the minds and imaginations of most people. Both streets are lined with massive skyscrapers, stores and shops of all price ranges, and throng after throng of people. This is not the premiere shopping experience in HK - you have stores of all different types and prices, from convenience stores to Coach and Prada. That is likely why you can see all sorts of locals going about their shopping and their business, oblivious to the various tourists and their backpacks. There's not a whole lot that is of great interest with respect to historical sites on Queen's Road, but then again Hong Kong is known for its modern and commercialistic attitude towards life, so it would wrong to look for the spirtual on one of the city's busiest arteries.

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    Soho

    by mikey_e Written Dec 27, 2010

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    Soho by night
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    Soho, like its London namesake, is a slightly sleazy place to go out for great restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It's not the most expensive or classiest part of the city, but it is a great place to eat well if fusion and quasi-exotic tastes are your thing. One thing to note about Soho is that 95% of the people here are likely foreigners, and you are probably going to see more Caucasians here than in downtown Toronto. Nevertheless, Soho is not a amalgammation of Americanized restaurants and McDonalds clones. It is a cosmopolitan hotspot that exemplifies why Hong Kong is so famous the world over for its laissez-faire attitude to just about any type of culture. Not only will you find every type of cuisine here (there are probably five times as many Brazilian people as there are noodle houses), but you are likely to find the entire spectrum of young professionals from every OECD country here, all mixing and mingling with other foreigners and the occasional Honger. Soho is not on a subway line, so it may be a bit of a hike if you don't take a taxi. During the worst of the summer humidity, that can be quite a sweaty feat, but it's well worth the show you get on the way up.

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    Hong Kong Park

    by mikey_e Written Dec 27, 2010

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    Laterns at the entrance to the park
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    I think that I've probably covered the vast majority of what there is to do in the park, except for the park itself. This is another one of the many green spaces that dot an otherwise polluted city. Thanks to the humid and subtropical climate of Hong Kong, a myriad of plant and animal life can flourish here, delighting visitors of all ages. There are many different trees that have been imported from other Asian countries, as well as various flowers and flowering bushes. The ponds have fish and turtles in them - sure to delight children. There are a few places where vendors sell ice cream and drinks, but for the most part the park is remarkably free of hawkers, allowing visitors to laze away an afternoon and relax in the tranquillity of the park. The Queensway and Cotton Tree Drive entrance was covered with lanterns when I was there, but I'm not sure if this was a special thing, or something permanent.

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    Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

    by mikey_e Updated Dec 27, 2010

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    Flagstaff House Museum of Tea
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    Tea occupies an important place in Chinese culture, so it would only be appropriate for there to be a large exhibition of the accoutrements used in the preparation and serving of the beverage. The Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is just such an institution, charting the entire tea ceremony from the earliest parts of Chinese culture up to competitions of contemporary artists' tea sets. Some of them are quite impressive, as they incorporate not only famous people and places, but also ideas and concepts into the serving of tea. The Museum also seeks to educate visitors on the properties of various types of tea, with explanations of the different categories of tea and the periods in which they were popular in China. As at any good museum, there is a complete selection of teas and tea ware for sale in the gift shop at the exit.

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    The Ka Lo Gallery

    by mikey_e Written Dec 27, 2010

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    Ka Lo Gallery
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    The Ka Lo Gallery is one of several cultural monuments and institutions inside the Hong Kong Park. It is a small gallery that also has a fancy tea room on the ground floor, for those who feel so inclined as to sample some fine tea. The upstairs of the gallery is a one-room exhibition of pottery and carvings from the various Chinese dynasties. There are wonderful descriptions of what makes each type of pottery unique, as well as the evolution of the art under the various emporers. The centre of the exhibition hall has case after case of stamps - not the mailing kind, but the ones used to sign and seal documents for official purposes. Without a knowledge of Chinese characters, it is rather difficult to understand the beauty of the crafted iconographs, but you can still appreciate the intricate and delicate carvings, as well as the evolution of the manufacture of such implements.

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    Hong Kong Park Observation Tower

    by mikey_e Written Dec 27, 2010

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    Observation Tower
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    In a mountainous city like HK, you're never at a loss for finding places to give you spectacular views of the metropolis or the bay. Nevertheless, HK is a beautiful city, and all of the opportunities that you might have are worth exploiting. One such opportunity is the observation tower in HK Park, which is not terribly high, but still gives you a good view of the park and the surrounding buildings.

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    Hong Kong Park SARS Memorial

    by mikey_e Written Dec 26, 2010

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    The SARS Memorial
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    SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, was a rapidly-spreading respiratory illness that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in HK, China, Taiwan and Canada. I realize that it probably doesn't have a huge impact on the memories of many people around the world, but the mention of SARS for people in HK or Toronto evokes a period in our joint history when the cities were gripped by a fear of hospitals and public places, lest people become infected with a horrible illness that appeared to destroy the respiratory tracks and organs of victims. The syndrome was not immediately identified for what it was, and many of the first responders who treated the initial wave of patients succoumbed to the illness as well. In HK, those doctors and nurses who died while fighting SARS are immortalized in a memorial in the HK Park, with busts of the individuals on display in the middle of a reflection garden that is filled with light and hope. It is a fairly secluded part of the green space, perfect for meditation, but not really the best location for a monument that should also try to remind people of the mistakes that were made that allowed SARS to get out of control.

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    Hong Kong Park Open-Air Aviary

    by mikey_e Written Dec 26, 2010

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    A small parrot comes to pose
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    The Open-Air Aviary is, by far, the most spectacular aviary and zoological exhibit that I have seen in either Hong Kong or any other place in the world. It is a huge area covered with a large net in which dozens of different species of birds fly free. The birds are all a fairly small size, as they cannot be two large so as not to pose a threat to any of the children or adults who visit the attraction. Still, it is an incredible experience to be amongst so many different beautiful species of fowl, flying about your head and brazenly coming up to the visitors. The birds are fed by the keepers of the aviary, who leave colour papaya and melon chunks to attract the more timid creatures. This hot spots of fruit provide perfect areas for you to get great shots of the birds as they calmly munch away. There are sign posts throughout the aviary that give information about the various species of bird in the aviary, but it is sometimes hard to use them effectively, as the birds do not stay still in the same area as the description. Nevertheless, it's not the description or the strictly educational aspect of the attraction that is likely to keep you here - it is more the awesome area of colour and sound that you can take part in that will keep you snapping photo after photo.

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    Hong Kong Park Aviary

    by mikey_e Written Dec 26, 2010

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    The pond outside of the Aviary
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    The Hong Kong Park Aviary is not the best aviary in HK, but luckily it has a nearby brother that tops anything else that I've ever seen. This aviary is probably the older of the two, and is pretty standard in its design. There are plenty of exotic birds that are caged, usually with at least two of each species on display. The organizers of the aviary have provided excellent descriptions of the birds and their habits, including the mating habits and the peculiarities of the species. There are only about 10 or so cages here, as the majority of the park's "collection" of rare and exotic birds are in the other aviary. Nevertheless, this part of the Hong Kong Park is well worth the visit, as it includes many large birds that could not otherwise be displayed in the open-air aviary that is found just beside the traditional one.

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    Reptiles at the Zoological Gardens

    by mikey_e Updated Dec 26, 2010

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    The Tortoise
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    I swear, this is the last tip about the Zoological Gardens. The last group of animals to enjoy at the Gardens are the reptiles. I think that there are a number of reptiles on display at the Gardens, but I didn't fell much like take them in. Instead, I just went to see the huge tortoise (which was pretty cool) and the sad-looking alligator in his own little tub.

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    Mammals at the Zoological Gardens

    by mikey_e Written Dec 26, 2010

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    Orangutangs at the gardens
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    In addition to birds and plants, the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens has a fair number of caged mammals, especially orangutangs, monkeys, lemurs and other mammals that delight children. I can't say that I really find it to be very uplifting - seeing a caged animal rarely is - but they are interesting to watch for a while. As with the birds, the mammals will be a big hit with kids.

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    Green house at the Botanical Gardens

    by mikey_e Written Dec 22, 2010

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    A pitcher plant
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    The Gardens are not just a place to explore and learn about animals - they also have a fair number of exotic and beautiful plants for visitors to inspect. The green house is a great example of this as it contains dozens of different species of plants, many of them quite exotic. There are a number of orchids and air plants that are quite unique, as well as many, many specimins of beautiful blooming plants and flowers.

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    Aviary at the Zoological Gardens

    by mikey_e Updated Dec 22, 2010

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    Pink birds
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    One of the incredible things about HK is the number of aviaries that there seem to be in the city. The one at the zoological gardens is not the best, but it is much better than the one in Kowloon Park. Here's you'll see all sorts of exotic and fanciful fowl. The problem is that the display is a bit odd, and it is really just row upon row of cages. This reinforces the sense that the birds are trapped here for display - not something that is conducive to actually enjoying the exhibits. There are some pretty neat birds on display, although the most attractive ones are obviously the flocks of pink flamingoes.

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    HK Zoological and Botanical Gardens

    by mikey_e Updated Dec 22, 2010

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    Chinese entranceway to the park
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    The HK Zoological Gardens are one of many different green spaces in the city that will wow and amaze visitors. This particular park is built on the side of the mountain, so it can be a bit of a trek up through it (and indeed to it), which is rather difficult in the humidity of the summer. The grounds are fairly green, although there are sections of the park that are paved or gravel walkways. These are tasteful areas that do not make it seem as though the greenery were an afterthought to all of the concrete. The park features a sort of mini-zoo that will undoubtedly delight children, and I have chose to highlight several of the features in separate posts, as the bird and mammal exhibits are too nice to simple provide a passing mention. The rest of the park is nicely laid out, with benches and picnic areas that are themed, whether they be in the Peter the Rabbit motif or traditional Chinese. In all, this is a great place to take kids that is free and accessible - in fact, that's exactly who was there in spades, so watch out from screaming, gleeful children.

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    Victoria Peak Garden

    by mikey_e Written Dec 22, 2010

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    The walkway
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    Victoria Peak Garden is not really a tourist site, but it is a nice site if you're looking to explore the area around the peak and walk around a bit in the nice weather. It is a spectacularly maintained park with great views of the trees. It's a bit secluded from most of the houses, so it's a quiet spot to relax if you've had too much of the crowds. A good pitstop it you're looking to walk back down from the peak.

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