At the Heart of it All
As soon as I booked my plane ticket to Hong Kong I decided that Kowloon will be the place where I would start looking for accommodation. It was my second big trip this year and my budget was far from the one that could let me stay at any fancy hotel or anywhere decent on Hong Kong Island.
Once I refined my search to Kowloon, I was actually overwhelmed by a high number of hostels and guesthouses available. Both options are great if you are traveling on a budget but it is very important to check if there any reviews available as some online listings sound too good to be true.
Staying at a fairly basic but clean and comfortable guesthouse on Nathan Road meant that I was at the heart of Kowloon. At the same time not too far away from the waterfront and the ferries to explore the islands. A convenient location was a plus and the authenticity of the place provided an amazing insight into the everyday Kowloon.
My guesthouse was situated in one of those massive buildings where local people just go about their normal life. They get into a lift with you carrying bags full of shopping, they cook and you can smell it when out on a staircase and lastly they eat and you can hear them slurping or chatting over a chicken soup when you wait for your lift down.
Nathan Road cuts through different areas including Mong Kok with its famous markets and the Hong Kong protest zone. It was incredible and very intense to stay there for a week. Colourful neon lights, crazy traffic and the buzz were always around me. It was like taking a ride from the top, lifted by huge excitement to crash down from exhaustion three days later. Oh yes, my jet lag had to catch up. There was no running away from it.
The Walled City
I loved wandering around Kowloon. Walking down few blocks east or west could present me with the completely different views and surroundings. Although I find the markets and tiny streets the most captivating, I suggest visiting Kowloon Walled City Park. It will give you an opportunity to find some shelter from Kowloon’s concrete jungle and to find out more about a history of the Walled City. Originally a Chinese military fort that became an ungoverned settlement during the British rule.
The Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui is a prime spot for admiring the iconic views of Hong Kong or catching a ferry to Central. You can also take a walk down the Avenue of the Stars to get that Hollywood Walk of Fame experience in Asia. I will be honest with you that Bruce Lee was the only famous person I recognised there.
Out of different museums located in Tsim Sha Tsui I picked the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The permanent collection was temporarily unavailable to the public but three smaller exhibitions made up for it. They offered me a chance to discover the work of contemporary HK artists.