The Mid levels is probably Hong Kongs most desirable address but if you want to live there (or even rent there) be prepared to put your hand very deeply into your pocket. Long regarded as a sought after place to live, the Mid levels sits half way up the hill between Victoria Harbour and Victoria Peak directly above Central. Some of the most expensive real estate in the world is located here.
The mid levels Escalator was created to assist commuters to get to their homes more easily and to ease traffic congestion. The lower parts, where many restaurants and shops are located has, over the years, become somewhat of a pseudo tourist attraction but if you stay on the escalator and head further up the hill, you will be off the beaten path from a tourist perspective as the area and the views are much more residential but also closer to the natural area of Victoria Peak. In fact the Mid levels has long been regarded as one of Hong Kongs quieter green districts.
As well as expensive real estate the prestigious University of Hong Kong is located on Bonham Road. Its buildings in the British Colonial style are some of the few which remain in Hong Kong so if you would like to wander around this area you could exit the Mid levels escalator at Caine Road and head west towards Bonham Road, keeping in mind it would be at least a half hour walk.
On the way you will pass by the Sun Yat Sen Museum, which is a beautiful building in itself and interesting (see my review in off the beaten path tips),
Built in 1998 in the Tang Dynasty style Chi Lin Nunnery sits among high rise complexes in the residential district of Diamond Hill.
The Buddhist Temple has existed here since 1934 but the currrent large wood frame Temple was rebuilt using a traditional Tang construction method, making the Nunnery the only modern building in Hong Kong to use interlocked wood instead of modern nails to hold the structure together. The longer you wander through the different Temple Halls, the more amazed you will become by this type of architecture and construction.
The Temple complex has a beautiful lotus pond as its focal point surrounded by different Temples each dedicated to a particular Bodhisattva or Enlightened Being. It is an active Temple so please be respectful of the worshippers who may be there.
The adjacent Nan Lian Garden is part of the Temple complex. (see separate review). I was having issues with my camera which was a little disappointing when I saw the amazing photo opportunities the garden provides.
Diamond Hill is a mid way station on the Kwun Tong (green) Line which runs between Yau Ma Tei and Tiu Keng Leng in Kowloon. The station is connected to the Hollywood Plaza shopping centre. The journey will take 14 minutes from Yau Ma Tei and 16 minutes from Tiu Keng Leng.
Nan Lian Garden is a beautiful public garden located in front of Chi Lin Nunnery. It is probably the nicest landscaped park in Kowloon and provides some stunning photo opportunities.
Like the adjacent Chi Lin Nunnery, the three and a half hectare garden has been constructed to be faithful to the Tang Dynasty with every structure, pond, plant and rock feature strategically placed. It really is quite beautiful in spend even a short time in, with pockets of green hills as its backdrop together with high rise residential estates.
Nan Lian Garden is a wonderful example of how Hong Kong manages to mix classical Chinese culture with a modern concrete jungle.
The garden is open free of charge to the public between 7am and 9pm.
Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery are located in Diamond Hill Kowloon. From the station take Exit C2. The garden entrance is less than 5 minutes walk along Fung Tak Road (just follow the signs).
This interesting Museum dedicated to the life of the first President of the Peoples Republic of China is located in the Mid Levels of the Central District on Hong Kong Island. The Museum is particularly relevant to the people of Hong Kong as Dr Sun Yat-sen credited as being China's most revolutionary figure, lived and studied for a number of years in Hong Kong. The four story museum is dedicated to his life work and achievements.
Anyone with a passing interest in Chinese history and the events leading up to the 1911 revolution will find the exhibitions quite facinating. I particularly liked reading about his family and the influence each one had on his life. If you dont enjoy reading so much there are audiovisual timelines to watch. The childrens version is gorgeous and beautifully done. The Museum building itself (Kom Tong Hall) is worth seeing for its western colonial architecture and is a declared monument due to its historical importance.
The SUN YAT-SEN MUSEUM is just a short walk from the Mid Levels Escalator exit at Caine Road. I did not pay on the day I visited as it was on a Wednesday (free admission) but on other days there is a small entrance charge- HK$10.
Star Cruises operate an overnight cruise daily, except on Sunday, from Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. I have no idea where the ship actually goes but passports are required (and also re-entry visas if a visa is required by your nationality) so it must head out into international waters in the South China Sea. This would suggest that the cruise attracts locals interested in an evening of gambling.
Non residents of Hong Kong are welcome to board but you will be charged a higher price than local passengers for the privilege and there are extra taxes on top of the advertised fare. If you are looking for something different to do (and have already been to the casinos of Macau) then a cruise would certainly offer this.
The ship is called Star Pisces and it leaves the Ocean Centre Cruise Terminal between 7.00pm and 8.00pm each evening (depending on the day) and arrives back at the same berth the next morning (later on Sunday).
I havent been on board myself but have cruised on one of the cruise lines' larger ships. The interior of that ship was quite nice but reminded me of a Las Vegas casino. Meals are generally buffet style. Star Pisces would be of a similar standard but keep in mind that the ship is quite small so facilities onboard may reflect this.
The Big Buddha in Ngong Ping on Lantau Island is a must see for most visitors to Hong Kong.
If time allows for further exploration of the surrounding area consider the reasonably short walk along the Wisdom Path for the views alone. The path is signposted and accessed from the Po Lin Monastery tea gardens.
The Wisdom Walk is the creation of Scholar and Calligrapher Prof Jao Tsung-I and symbalises the relationship between Buddhism, nature and art. At the end of the path is an open air re-creation of a much revered Buddhist Prayer, the Heart Sutra. The prayer is displayed on thirty eight wooden pillars engraved in Chinese calligraphy. The blocks are arranged to form the figure eight representing infinity.
While it is a little difficult to see this at first, there is an area where it is possible to visualise (with a little imagination) how they form the infinity symbol.
TIP: If you have insect repellant handy, use some before venturing along the path as the mosquitos buzzing about spoiled the serenity somewhat.
Near Yuen Long in the New Territories are several ancient walled villages. The most noteworthy is Kat Hing Wai, whose 400 residents are mainly elderly widows. All the residents have the same last name, Tang, because the village was established by the Tang Clan, and only people of the Tang Clan are therefore allowed to live here. The people are Puntis, a group from southern China who were among the first to settle in what would one day become Hong Kong. (Many mistakenly believe that the people are Hakka). They speak the Cantonese dialect of Weitou.
The village was established in the mid-1400s. However, because there were many bandits, rival clans, and even wild tigers in the area, a protective wall 18 feet (six meters) thick and measuring 328 feet (100 meters) long and 295 feet (90 meters) wide was constructed in the 1600s by Tang Chue-yin and Tang Chik-kin. Later four cannon towers were added for additional protection against bandits. Only one narrow entrance allows entry into the village, and at one time a moat surrounded the settlement.
In 1899, the residents of Kat Hing Wai rebelled against British colonial rule. They barricaded themselves behind the village walls and withstood several British attacks. However, the British eventually blasted open the iron gates and took the village. The gates were sent to London for display, but were eventually returned to the village.
Nowadays, it is possible to visit the village for a small fee, and the residents, wearing their traditional black fringed hats, will pose for pictures for a few coins.
Murray House is located in Stanley on the southern side of Hong Kong Island. It was originally built in Central as a barracks for British Army officers after the British occupation of Hong Kong. During the Second World War it was used by the Japanese as a command centre.
It was rebuilt in Stanley ten years ago after being dismantled in 1982 to make way for the building of the Bank of China Tower. Its restoration and relocation has made Murray House one of the few surviving colonial public buildings in Hong Kong. Its a picturesque old building sitting proudly on the beachfront adjacent to Blake Pier and opposite the refurbished Stanley Plaza shopping centre at the end of the boardwalk in Stanley Main Street.
The Hong Kong Maritime Museum which was located on the ground floor has recently closed as the museum is relocating in the future to a much larger location at Central Pier 8.
Loosely interpreted as meaning "gateway" the area now known as Sheung Wan was the first to be colonised when a treaty signed by the Britain and China in 1842 made Hong Kong "British".
If you are a history buff, then Possession Street, between Hollywood Road and Queens Road West provides an interesting link to Hong Kong's colonial past.
The treaty ended a war fought between the two countries over the importation and use of opium as trading currency. The three year conflict was the first of the "Opium Wars".
British surveyors aboard naval ships arriving in Hong Kong found an elevated area on the western side of the island which seemed suitable as a campsite. In January 1841 a ceremony and flag raising was held at the site which was named Posession Point.
The present day Posession Street is where the road linked the camp to the shore before reclaimation of Victoria Harbour.
If you have more than a passing interest in Hong Kong (and foreign currency) then you may be interested in viewing the array of interesting exhibits at the HKMA Information Centre.
Located in the International Finance Centre Building, the publicly accessible areas house exhibitions on currency and monetary policy along with a library.
The expansive windows afford a different and interesting view over Central and towards the mid levels.
The Information Centre is open between 10am and 6pm weekdays and between 10am and 1pm on Saturday. Unless you are particularly interested in reading every shred of information, you can allow as little as half an hour to browse the exhibits and the facinating timeline outlining the history of the Hong Kong Dollar.
Guided tours of 30 minutes duration are held at 2.30pm on weekdays and 10.30pm on Saturday. You must register your interest for the "first come - first served" tours.
There are also restrictions on the number of people allowed into the information centre at one time, though its unlikely you will have to wait as there were only a handful of people viewing the exhibition at the same time as me. On entering 2IFC you must show your passport or ID card at the Concierge desk in the HKMA lobby. You will then be given a pass to access the Information Centre.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre is located on the 55th floor of Two International Finance Centre - 8 Finance Street Central. Admission is FREE.
Closest MTR station is Hong Kong Station - Exit A2. Central MTR is also within easy walking distance. If arriving on the Star Ferry allow for a 5 to 10 minute walk from Central Pier. Exchange Square bus terminal is located a couple of streets behind the 2IFC building and is accessible by overhead walkways.
Please Note: No flash photography is allowed and large bags may be searched for security reasons.
My friend always invites me to stay with them in this high-rise community whenever I am on vacation so, one time, I decided to take pictures of the area and observe how carefully these are planned. Each community caters to young and old alike, as you can see in the pictures.
A pleasant day trip out of Hong Kong involves a visit to the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, the largest outlying island in Hong Kong. Getting there requires taking a ferry from Hong Kong Island to Mui Wo, or Silver Mine Bay, a small seaside village on Lantau Island. A bus then transports visitors through the countryside to the monastery.
The monastery was founded in 1906 by three Buddhist monks visiting from Jiangsu province on the Chinese mainland. It initially consisted of a small hut and was called the Da Maopeng Monastery. In 1924, the name was changed to the Po Lin (meaning "Precious Lotus") Monastery. Since then, several buildings have been added to the complex. The main temple, called the Great Hall of Treasure, contains three bronze statues of Buddha, representing his past, present, and future. Other Buddhist relics housed in the main temple include a 2,205-pound (1,000-kilogram) bronze bell and numerous ancient scriptures.
The grounds of the monastery contain five lesser temples or halls, and the Tian Tan Buddha, one of the world's largest outdoor statues of Buddha (see my tip on the Tian Tan Buddha for more information).
The monastery was once an isolated retreat for Buddhist monks, but it is now overrun by tourists. Because it is a working monastery, visitors are expected to dress and behave appropriately. No meat is allowed on the grounds, but vegetarian lunches are available in the main dining hall.
The Tian Tan Buddha towers over the buildings of the Po Lin Monastery and can be seen from most areas in the complex. On a clear day, it is also supposedly visible from as far away as Macau. With a height of 112 feet (34 meters), it was the world's largest outdoor statue of a seated Buddha until 2007. The statue symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, and people and religion.
The Tian Tan Buddha was built between 1990 and 1993, and was completed on the anniversary of the date of Buddha's enlightenment. Weighing 250 tons (226,796 kilograms), the statue was constructed using 202 separate sheets of bronze that were attached to an interior steel frame that supports the structure.
The statue is seated on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar. It faces north, which is unusual in that all other outdoor Buddha statues in China face south. The main statue is surrounded by six smaller statues that are portrayed making offerings to Buddha of flowers, incense, a lamp, ointment, fruit, and music. These offerings represent charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all the main pillars of Buddhism.
Visitors can climb the 268 steps to the top of hill on which the statue was constructed for spectacular views of Lantau Island, the South China Sea, and the Po Lin Monastery.
Have you ever thought of learning to cook Asian cusine? A visit to our Home Management Centre at North Point will be rewarding.
The Home Management Centre
10/F, Electric Centre
28 City Garden Road
(near City Garden Hotel)
Course Fees: Ranging from HK$85 to about HK$450 per course
Brothers & sisters, Don't forget your Sunday Service while travelling! There're many churches all over Hong Kong, Kowloon & New Territories offering Sunday Mass. Check out the Catholic Diocese web site for detail information.
I am two people really. Either businessman or traveller. So, if your on business or the budget's not...more
The location is handy for TST but the rooms are a little tired. I first stayed here in 2006 and...more
8 Pak Hok Ting Street, Shatin, Hong Kong, China
Good for: Couples
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