Leaving Vietnam was bittersweet as it signalled the finale of the Asia leg of our trip. We’ve been travelling through Asia for the past five months–arriving in India mid-October, travelled from south to north, then to Nepal for the Everest Base Camp trek, got drenched by Monsoons of Thailand and dried ourselves off in Vietnam’s sunshine. It was now the end of January and before heading to Australia to work on the other side of our tan, we wanted a stop in Hong Kong to celebrate Chinese New Year 2017! We’ve heard and read many stories of epic celebrations and wanted to see and experience this ourselves. We scheduled three days in Hong Kong to take in festivities to welcome the year of the Rooster.
Arriving on the eve of Chinese New Year, we checked into our hotel in Kowloon, unpacked and found a dinner spot. The restaurant was close to our hotel and we arrived just in time for the last seating. The place is known famously across Hong Kong for their Peking duck, so that’s exactly what we ordered to complement our Chinese New Year’s eve dinner.
On new year’s day, we wanted to commemorate our adventures to date and begin our new year on a good foot by hiking the scenic Dragon’s Back trail along Hong Kong Island’s coastal side. From Kowloon, we took Hong Kong’s Star Ferry and then a bus to our starting point. We didn’t expect crowds being New Year’s day, however, there were quite a few like-minded people enjoying a hike too. It turns out to be auspicious to start the new year with a hike. The expansive views as we hiked allowed us to see across Victoria Harbour and the South China Sea.
The hike lasted two hours, not too strenuous, with opportunity to see a side of Hong Kong not many people associate with this large densely populated metropolis. After some time on Nepal’s EBC, the hike along Dragon’s Back was welcomed by us. We hiked through lush greenery while breathing in the salty sea air, spent time daydreaming out onto the sparkling sea and took more photos than needed of the beautiful coastal beaches as we meandered to the finish of Dragon’s Back. The kids were famished by the end and wanted to get a hold of a steam bun!
That evening we wanted to be in the thick of the excitement for Hong Kong’s extremely popular Chinese New Year’s parade in Kowloon. Held annually, the parade route stretches from Victoria Harbour and up along Tsim Sha Tsui to the centre of town. Locals and tourist alike start jockeying for prime spots hours before the official start time. Even an hour before the parade starts, finding a spot three feet deep would be fortunate. Luckily for us, we squeezed ourselves into a tight spot and, with help of people around, the kids managed their way out front for a prime view. Fortunately, our spot afforded us a great view of a massive screen to preview upcoming floats which allowed us to watch the last half of the parade. By the time the last of the floats reached us, both kids were ready to go. With a big hike and a busy parade that day, we finished our night with a feast at a lovely authentic street-side restaurant before walking back to the hotel. We were all zonked and looking forward to our comfy beds.
The Monday of Chinese New Year weekend, there’s the annual fireworks display over Victoria Harbour. The firewok’s dazzling pyrotechnics are reflected off the sky-high gleaming towers surrounding the harbour . Getting a front row spot requires a pre-booked dinner seating or a hotel room with harbour view – both we found needed to be reserved well in advance. The kids, however, ended up making small talk with Julian (the hotel manager) the previous day and bumped into him again chatting up difficulties of finding a spot at any hotel or restaurant to view the fireworks. Their new friend showed genuine interest in their concern and asked how they would like to spend the evening in a prime spot to see fireworks? Both kids immediately got excited when they learned they’ve been invited to their club lounge with panoramic views of the harbour (and didn’t have to stand outside in the crowded streets especially after our many outdoor adventures!) And so we did…spend a wonderful evening with an open bar of treats and drinks where we viewed the spectacular Chinese New Year fireworks.
Being in Hong Kong to see and experience the most famous Chinese New Year festivities in the world was a wonderful treat and something we would remember annually as we continue to celebrate each year. Making new friends, seeing different cultures and enjoying a variety of foods were all met again in Hong Kong. With the help of the children’s new friend, Julian, Hong Kong capped a wonderful tour of Asia for us. Up next is Australia, but before reaching our destination, we had a 24-hour layover in the city/state of Singapore! While Singapore was a short layover, it was a place where Elliot’s mystical creatures came to life. More to that in the slider.
We’re onto Australia next to soak up the sun and work on our tans – a breather in Lennox Head and then RVing up the sunshine coast of New South Wales and Queensland.
Read about Chloe and Elliot’s time in Hong Kong: