How to spend less than 24 hours in Hong Kong, Part 1

Hong Kong, known as the most important port in Asia, is also one with a devastating history. Marked by its disruption between two cultures and several war settings, the city is now one of the most modern metropolises around the world. It offers everything, from museums to shopping malls, from religous buildings to skycraper views, from natural sceneries to an exciting nightlife. Hong Kong is a city where East and West meet in a way that is unknown to any other city.

Before I start with the guide, I would like to hold down the first impressions I got from that city.
Some people say, they don't feel like they are in China when they visit Hong Kong after staying in Mainland for a few months. For me, that was not the case. To be true, I had a minor culture shock when I first arrived on Nathan Road which I neither had in Shanghai, nor in Yuyao. I tried to explain this to myself and came to the conclusion that there is a simple reason. Hong Kong shocked me that way because it is a city that combines the chinese bustle with western influences on a limited place.
It is very hard to explain. To understand what I am saying, you have to experience this city yourself.

With this, I will start:

Step 1: Get lost while trying to find your hostel:

Hong Kong overwhelmed me big time. Maybe it was the fact that I first saw Nathan Road, passed Chung King Mansion and all the weird people strolling in front of that building. Or maybe it was the fact that everything was extremely cramped, crowded and colourful. The main reason might be that I had problems finding my hostel which was located right on Nathan Road. The fact that it was in a huge building complex escaped me. I didn't know that almost every hostel in Hong Kong is inside of one of these huge buildings, in order to save space. So I ended up walking up and down the same road, desperately trying to find the hostel. In the end, I found it and was so lucky that it looked clean, since the elevator I went up with was a bit scary :'D My shock didn't end though. I found out that I had to sleep in a mixed dorm which means not only females but also males. Plus, we didn't have lockers, and the room was tiny, filled with 2 bunk beds. If you entered the room and took one step you landed on the bed already :'D There was only 1 guy in the room and he seemed to be a nice person luckily.
I ended up sleeping with my valuables under my pillow which was a good idea because another roommate entered the dorm in the early hours of the morning. He was sleeping on one of the top bunks.

Step 2: Bond with your roommates:

The next morning, I wanted to start to do some things before my flight in the late afternoon, so I woke up early. My roommate was awake as well so I asked him if he wanted to join me. That's one of the advantages of staying in a hostel if you are travelling solo. You can always meet new, young people from all over the world.
We got ready, I packed the little things I had and we went to take the subway. It was good that he came along, because he had already been in Hong Kong for a few days, so he knew how to get around. I wanted to go up Victoria Peak and he hadn't seen it either, so we went there. Before, we needed to get breakfast, so we stopped at a cafe.

Step 3: Go to the most amazing sight in Hong Kong, the Victoria Peak:

If the weather is clear, make sure to go up the peak. But only if it really is good weather, otherwise you will end up spending a lot of time and some money for nothing. We were super lucky with the weather. It was middle of september and Hong Kong was still very hot and humid, but the sky was clear and blue as water.
After breakfast, we took the tram up the peak. There are also other ways of transportation. You can walk up or take the bus, but we wanted to take the tram because the view is supposed to be great. And it really was. While driving up, all the skyscrapers looked sloping, as though the world was folding itself together like in Inception :D

Anyway, it was lucky that we woke up early, because the tram was almost empty. We didn't know, but we should later find out that the sky terrace of the peak opened way later than we expected, but still we were able to finish early. Plus, the tram up was so crowded later in the day, we saw the line when we went down later. It was totally insane. So if you wanna avoid the crowds, make sure to come a little bit earlier.
Even if you arrive before the peak opens, you still have great opportunities to enjoy different views. Right beneath the sky terrace there was a lion pavillion which was almost empty during that time so we managed to take some photos there.

 Plus the surroundings of the peak were beautiful. We felt like somewhere in a tropical forest. Palm trees everywhere and the sound of insects and birds. It was amazing.

After we saw most parts of the peak, we relaxed at a cafe and had a refreshing drink before going up the terrace. There, we saw some beautiful dogs who went for a morning stroll with their owners.
It was becoming hotter and hotter, but we still waited and could finally enter. The view from up there was way better than from the pavillion of course. Although the place is not that big, the view is just incredible. I couldn't stop taking photos.

Look what they had there :'D The Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant from Forrest Gump ^^

I would suggest to go to the peak either early in the morning to avoid the crowds, or right before dusk, so that you can see it in three different stages: Day, dusk and night with all the lights on. That's what I'm gonna do next time I'm in Hong Kong.

Step 4: Get lost in the winding streets of Central:

On our way back from the peak to the ferry terminal, we got a little bit lost in Central, one of the districts of Hong Kong Island. It is famous for its bars, pubs and nightlife. We didn't stay long, since we were slowly getting hungry and couldn't find anything we wanted in Central, so we slowly headed back to Tsim Sha Tsui.

Step 5: Take the Star Ferry from Victoria Harbour:

Of course, you can take the subway anywhere you wanna go in Hong Kong, but if you plan to go to one of the islands surrounding Hong Kong, it is a more relaxing alternative to take the ferry.
We also did that since I love ferries, ships, boats, yachts and everythig that has to do with water :'D
And at this point I have to say that I love the sea in Hong Kong. The colour is one of my favourites, a bright turquoise, with splashes of white, glittering in the sun and reflecting the iron skyscrapers from the shore. So beautiful. Don't miss out on this.

Step 6: Have lunch in a mall:

Actually, we wanted to eat some Dim Sum or something else that was Hong Kong food, so we strolled through the streets in and around Nathan Road but we couldn't find anything that other than some noodle soup places which we didn't really want. I found a good dim sum restaurant online which was supposed to be in a mall close where we were so we went there. Inside of the mall, we also got lost. We were already starving and I also had to hurry up to get to the plane.
We finally found the food court and discovered an Indian restaurant that was offering a lunch buffet. That was the first time I ever ate Indian food and I fell in love with it. It is now one of my favourite cuisines. Asian cuisine truly is the best.

After lunch, it was also already time for me to take the bus to the airport and say goodbye to this crazy yet colourful city. That would not be my last time here though.

Today's rating:

Sightseeing: 5/5
Food: 5/5
Shopping: -
Nightlife: - 
Transportation: 5/5

Shopping and Nightlife Guide for Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou being the capitol of Zheijiang Province, it surely is a popular tourist attraction, for both, chinese and foreign travellers.
As I have already written about my first trip to Hangzhou in this blogpost which was more about the touristy spots, I will write about a more relaxed trip in this post.

1. Eating and Shopping:
There are many shops in the main shopping street in Hangzhou (like Zara, H&M, Forever 21,...), but if you want to experience something more unique, you should take a look at Hefang Street. There, you can try a lot of street food and buy interesting souvenirs for friends and family, like fans, bamboo umbrellas, hand-carved keychains, toys, calligraphy brushes and more.

These sweets were soooo yummy!

2. Nightlife:
From yummy restaurants and cozy pubs to hip bars and fancy clubs. You can find a lot of possibilities in this city.
My favourite location was the Eudora Station pub which is a restaurant and a bar. I have only been there for their burgers, but I have heard amazing things about their parties. 
And this is their burger
Another good place to eat is a fish restaurant called LuYu. It serves grilled fish with vegetables. It is really yummy *o*

For clubs, I would actually only suggest to go to one club there which is called Club SOS. It's like a mixture between chinese and western style club with many dance shows and performances. The dancing space might be too small but the drinks are very tasty and quite cheap compared with other clubs.

There is another club called Queen we spent New Years Eve at. It looks really fancy from the outside and is quite big inside. But the music style is very electronic-based and the dance floor is tiny with too many people pushing. It's best to dance remotely somewhere maybe close to the bar.

3. Activities around the West Lake:
There are several performances on and around the lake. One of them we saw was the fountain show which takes place every evening and is for free. They actually show it 2 or 3 times in a row on one night. It is really beautiful.

Of course there are way more things to explore in Hangzhou and it is up to every single person how to spend time in a city. Some like to check all the cultural and historical spots, while others enjoy a rather relaxed stay with a lot of delicous food and shopping. I enjoy a mix of both.

How to spend a weekend in: Suzhou, China

End of August, we had quite a few days off, so we took a trip to Suzhou which is in Jiangsu Province, very close to Shanghai. So close, that many tourists who go for sightseeing in Shanghai, plan a day or two in Suzhou because it is about 45 minutes away by train. So if you guys ever plan to visit Shanghai, definitely try to go to Suzhou, or another canal city close to China's financial hub as well.

Suzhou is famous for its numerous gardens, of which many are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So definitely make sure to visit at least one of those that interest you. Most of the beautiful gardens in Suzhou can be found on tripadvisor. I will only introduce 2 of the gardens that I went to here. And they are as following:

1. Humble Administrator's Garden: 
This is the biggest, most famous, and crowded one in Suzhou. It has a lush nature, with an abundance of green bushes, and trees, colourful flowers and clear ponds.

Refreshing water fizz :D

2. Master of Nets Garden: 
This garden was my favourite sight in Suzhou. This garden is also open in the late evening hours, which is the best time to visit this place, because of all the beautiful musical and dance performances that's going on in there. I took many videos which I am planning to publish in the near future. For this blog post, I will just add the pictures that I have taken.

Some flute players. I felt like in a different time and place, catapulted into the past that is Ancient China. 

Our Chinese-Canadian friend we met that day said that this instrument sounds like water. And it really does. It is so soothing. 

This dance performance was utterly beautiful.

A Kunqu Opera Performance
3. Souvenir Shopping at Dongbei Street: 
This street is right at the Humble Administrator's Garden. We just passed it without even planning it when we were on the way from the hostel to the garden, but it turned out to be even better than the garden itself. There are many interesting things you can buy as souvenirs such as wooden carvings, chinese zodiac keychains, and 3-D-pop-up postcards.

Bought one of these, the chinese lady one. 

4. Eating and Drinking on Pinjiang Road: 
This street is very popular in Suzhou due to its narrow alleyways and all the small cafes, restaurants and tea houses. We even found a cat cafe here, which was the most hilarious thing during our trip :D

Some cute snacks and sweets


This was my favourite cat. 

They were all so clean, soft and well-behaved. 

They even had a chinchilla

Grace with a Siamese (I think :D)

This pic is just sugar! I love grey cats anyway. 

This pic is the funniest :'D The cat looks disgusted :'D

I had waffles, and they were heavenly *o* The coffee was even better than Starbucks coffee.

Grumpy Cat No.1

And this one had another level of grumpiness: "the heck am I doing at this place?" :'D
5. Boat Ride on the Ancient Grand Canal:
We did the ride on the big canal, because we couldn't find any boats on the little canals of the side streets. It was a bit expensive though, but it was really beautiful. We could see the city all lit up in colourful lights and at the end of the tour the female guide performed a song for us, including playing on the classical chinese guitar.

6. Scenic Sightseeing on Tiger Hill (Huqiu Shan):
This spot is beautiful and home to the leaning pagoda which is said to be the original for the leaning tower of Pisa. In general, Suzhou is considered to be the original for Venice. It is said that Marco Polo came to China and "stole" many cultural, scenic, and architectural originals, including food, namely chinese noodles being the origin of italian spaghetti. 

These flowers are called Osmanthus. They grow on trees in autumn and distribute the best scent I have ever smelled. 

Suzhou might not be the most famous city in China, but it has its own beauty, and it definitely is one of my most favourite places there. 

We went there end of Summer, but I am sure this place looks especially beautiful in spring. It has a very calm and relaxing vibe to it, with all the natural sights, gardens, and beautiful canals. The Venice of China is definitely keeping what it promises. 

Today's rating:

Sightseeing: 5/5
Food: 4/5
Shopping: 4/5
Nightlife: 3,5/5 
Transportation: 3,5/5