Due to its stunning metropolis architecture, mesmerizing skyline view from various places and closely packed skyscrapers, the Hong Kong island is home to few of the best tourist attractions in Hong Kong. As HKUST is located relatively far away from the island, I didn’t find enough chances to visit and spend some time in the island. But that doesn’t imply that HKUST is a bad option to study in Hong Kong. In fact, it’s probably the only campus in Hong Kong that’s located at the beach and is really close to the beautiful hiking destinations in Kowloon. I have briefly touched upon my hiking and outing experiences in the Kowloon area, and I will also be probably dedicating an entire post for it in the future. But in this post, I am going to write about my day out on the Hong Kong island.
Last week, as soon as I got done with my midterms, I planned to take a day off and visit the Hong Kong island with my friends. Because of the current situation in the Hong Kong, as it’s hard to visit the island during the weekend, we picked Wednesday for the adventure. Also, be mindful that in this post I will only describe the places and my experiences on the island, but that doesn’t mean that the list is exhaustive. In fact, there are ample amounts of places to visit on the Hong Kong island and even multiple full-day visits might probably not be enough.
However, as we only had limited time on Tuesday, we wanted to start by visiting the most popular places. And of course, it’s the Victoria Peak that stands on top of the list. According to the Hong Kong tourism board, “If there is only one thing you can do in Hong Kong, go to the Peak. If you have many things to do here, still go to the Peak.” And I can’t agree more to that statement after actually visiting the peak. Partly because, when I arrived at HKUST, the campus and its surroundings didn’t exactly make me feel like I was in Hong Kong. Of course it’s amazing to live in between the mountains at the beach, but I didn’t witness a beautiful city with lights and tons of skyscrapers, which is something that one would usually see while googling about the Hong Kong. But the view from the Victoria Peak was very similar to something that you would see on the Internet. Being the highest point on island, it has been one of the most famous cityscape views in Hong Kong. It’s also believed that back in the pre-airconditioner era, the Victoria Peak was considered to be one of the most exclusive neighborhoods due to the cool air at the top. At present, the Peak serves as a combination of business and tourist hub with bus facilities, malls, hotels, and breathtaking views from the top. We had planned to reach the top sometime close to the sunset so that we can witness both – the night and the day time views. Hence, we started climbing in the early evening and made it to the top in less than an hour.
After taking enough pictures, witnessing the sun set, and observing the lights of the entire island gradually turn on, we took a bus down to Admirality as our next destination was the horse race! For those of you who might not be aware, horse racing (and of course, betting on the races) is a big thing in Hong Kong. Every Wednesday, the Hong Kong Jockey Club organizes a horse racing event (consisting of eight races, if I ain’t wrong) beginning from 7:30 PM. The good part is that it’s really cheap and open for the public. Therefore, if you aren’t someone who isn’t into betting or racing, it’s still an amazing event to witness while in Hong Kong. Having heard all such things from my friends, I decided to visit a horse race as well. Therefore, after getting down at Admirality, we took a HK city tram (worth experiencing!) to the racing venue. As soon as we got down, entered the gates, the whole vibe of that place made it seem like a festival instead of a weekly event. Even though the races happen every week, I was really surprised to see a huge crowd of people coming and enjoying the event. For some, it might be just be a place to chill, while for others who were actually betting on the races, it was a more serious occassion. And for us, it was a once in a lifetime experience! We entered the stadium, walked around, watched a race, and despite having no betting experience, tried our hands at betting, and obviously lost SOME money.
For the first time in my life, I was really excited despite losing! It was just the joy of living the moment and the satisfaction of making the most out of it. The money I lost will always remind me that I had a chance to witness and bet on one of the most popular events in Hong Kong. I will preserve the ticket forever and cherish that day (and night) for the lifetime. Coming back to the post, the horse race was the last item on our list for the night. As the MTR was going to close really early, it was important for us to leave and get back to Kowloon on time. Therefore, for rest of the night, we just walked around in the streets of Causeway Bay, had some Chinese street food, and headed back to UST.
Drexel International Health, Safety, & Security has been actively monitoring the protest situation in Hong Kong and providing guidance to students. Partner universities in Hong Kong are also providing information and support as needed.