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article imagePhoto Essay: A view of Hong Kong Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Dec 1, 2013 in World
Hong Kong - To get my working visa for China, I took a quick trip to Hong Kong which is part of China but is also considered a separate country with a British heritage.
Hong Kong is one of the world's most important cities. Although part of China in some ways (such as national defense), it is like an independent country with its own government and education system. A small area of southern China with a bay and Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong is the most heavily populated piece of land in the world. It is also a center of world finance, with a modern public transport system and lots of shopping opportunities. I went there for five days to get my work visa in order to teach English in northeast China. I left cold, snowy Jilin for this tropical place where trees bloom with pink flowers year-round, and it can be hot even in November.
From inside China, you can walk across the border at Shenzhen (part of the old Canton province and source of the Cantonese-Chinese language). You must show your passport as if you are crossing into another country, and you have to do a lot of walking and waiting. Once you are across the border into Hong Kong, you can buy an inexpensive MTR (Hong Kong Metro) card at a ticket booth. It is good all over Hong Kong and can be reloaded for more credit. Catch the East Line (light blue). Get off at Kowloon Tong station and go anywhere in Hong Kong from there, even across the bay via a tunnel to the famous Central Station on Hong Kong Island (which was my destination for the Chinese Visa Service).
MTR is wonderful, and you can easily read the color-coded overview map and see where the train you're on is going. It's a little confusing how to find the right train when you first enter a station, but you can ask someone or go to an information booth. The train lines are color-coded and numbered (such as Red Line Number 1 or 2, depending on which direction you are traveling). Many people in Hong Kong speak English, as it has a history of British control and international relations. Be careful when crossing the street, since the cars drive on the left side of the road. The taxis are inexpensive and roomy like the famous London cabs. Hong Kong police wear khaki shorts and stand on podiums to direct traffic, and there are British institutions like the "Kowloon Cricket Club" and tea shops that serve afternoon tea with scones and jam.
Shopping is also an adventure. You can find upscale malls like IFC (part of the International Finance Center) that connects to Central Station. It also connects to the luxury Four Seasons Hotel and features the Hong Kong Apple Store with its view of towering, glass-and-steel buildings. If you're on a budget, walk along famous Temple Street in the Jordan district of Kowloon and get good deals at open stalls. It's especially fun at night. The sellers will actually bargain with you, especially if you say "I'll think about it" and start to walk away. You can buy cheap electronics, fake designer bags, traditional silk dresses, tea sets, and even hand-painted laquor wood panels that depict ancient Chinese scenes. If you go, bring extra shopping money and be sure to change it into Hong Kong dollars.
There are all kinds of restaurants in Hong Kong, some with a view of the famous bay and Hong Kong Island. I found a Turkish restaurant, and my Turkish husband was happy to eat his native food and speak his language. From the restaurant, we walked to the Grand Stanford Intercontinental Hotel on Victoria Bay, with views of Hong Kong Island. After touring the hotel and having a beer in its New York-style bar, we went back to our modest Evergreen Hotel in Kowloon. I must warn you: Hong Kong hotels are expensive. Even our hotel raises its prices on Thursday nights and even more on weekends.
Hong Kong was like a whirlwind dream for me. I used my new Android cell phone to take photos because I left my good camera in a taxi (which is one danger of traveling; during stress and rush, you can forget things). The slightly blurry aspect of my Samsung phone camera made Hong Kong look like a Chinese fairy tale. I hope to return someday when I have time to explore Lantau Island with its old temples, The Peak with its amazing views, and even Asia's Disneyland.
Our hotel in the Jordan area of Kowloon  Hong Kong
Our hotel in the Jordan area of Kowloon, Hong Kong
The reception desk inside the Evergreen Hotel
The reception desk inside the Evergreen Hotel
Traditional decorations in the Evergreen Hotel of Hong Kong
Traditional decorations in the Evergreen Hotel of Hong Kong
The Evergreen Hotel serves a nice  reasonably-priced breakfast in its cafe
The Evergreen Hotel serves a nice, reasonably-priced breakfast in its cafe
A restaurant that serves BBQ meat near our hotel in Kowloon
A restaurant that serves BBQ meat near our hotel in Kowloon
The financial district features a park with an old  British-style building surrounded by skyscrapers
The financial district features a park with an old, British-style building surrounded by skyscrapers
The square features the statue of a famous colonial British banker
The square features the statue of a famous colonial British banker
Banking buildings rise above the square and statue
Banking buildings rise above the square and statue
Inside the Turkish restaurant located near Victoria Bay in Kowloon
Inside the Turkish restaurant located near Victoria Bay in Kowloon
View of skyscrapers from inside the Turkish Restaurant
View of skyscrapers from inside the Turkish Restaurant
From the Turkish restaurant  we walked to the Grand Stanford Intercontinental Hotel by Victoria Bay ...
From the Turkish restaurant, we walked to the Grand Stanford Intercontinental Hotel by Victoria Bay, across from Hong Kong Island
Inside the lobby of the InterContintental Grand Stanford Hotel in Hong Kong
Inside the lobby of the InterContintental Grand Stanford Hotel in Hong Kong
The lobby s piano bar and staircase
The lobby's piano bar and staircase
Stairs to the lower level
Stairs to the lower level
The hotel s lower level
The hotel's lower level
Inside the New York-style bar
Inside the New York-style bar
Inside the China Visa Office near Central Station on Hong Kong Island
Inside the China Visa Office near Central Station on Hong Kong Island
View of Kowloon from Hong Kong Island
View of Kowloon from Hong Kong Island
The busy streets of Hong Kong Island s International Financial District
The busy streets of Hong Kong Island's International Financial District
More Hong Kong traffic
More Hong Kong traffic
The Apple Store at IFC Mall near Central Station  Hong Kong Island
The Apple Store at IFC Mall near Central Station, Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong: A view of the International Financial District from inside the Apple Store
Hong Kong: A view of the International Financial District from inside the Apple Store
The Apple Store from inside IFC mall
The Apple Store from inside IFC mall
A display inside the mall s Swarovski Crystal store
A display inside the mall's Swarovski Crystal store
Taking a break for English tea at the mall s McDonalds
Taking a break for English tea at the mall's McDonalds
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