Helen has a Grandfather, Aunts and Uncles
and a few other relatives in Hong Kong. We try to visit once
a year. Being roughly 8 time zones from Vancouver, you can't
visit for a short period so we are always looking for new things
to do in Hong Kong to keep the vacations fresh. We have
favorites - many activities we repeat every year or second year.
Wholesale Fruit Market
Jet lag mornings used to be about preventing
the kids from waking everyone up. It's a little more
civilized now - the kids can wake up and play on their own, but
there is only so long you can do that before they get bored and
hungry. Continuing a long standing tradition, we went to the
fruit market at some early time of the day to see what is going
on. Helen likes to buy a durian and a flat of
strawberries. The prices at the wholesale market are
generally half of what you see in the street markets and a third
of what you see at the CitySuper grocery store chain.
We always wander the market looking for
This year, we tried something new to beat
the Jetlag - we went over to central to try out a 24 breakfast
diner. There were surprises - the neighborhood has lots of
pubs and the reason 24 hour places exist are to service the pub
patrons who want to eat after a late night of drinking.
Seeing pub patrons at 6am may solicit a lot of questions from
Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve
Speaking of traditions, this is my third
time back to the Fung Yuen Butterfly reserve. When the kids
were young, we went to a butterfly park (really greenhouse) in
Victoria and the kids hated it. They had really didn't like
the loud parrots and the kids didn't like things landing on
them. A few years later (without the parrots) the kids
really like the Butterfly Reserve - especially when Nara figured
out that you can sometimes get the butterflies to land on you!
I am always impressed with the diversity of the butterfly
reserve. You get butterflies that are trying to blend in,
some that are trying to stand out - some big, some small, some
fast, some calm. The kids enjoyed having a mission - finding
perched butterflies - and the open trails they could wander.
The kids really didn't like the mosquitoes - Claira got bit more
than a dozen times.
Today I was really impressed by the Tailed Jay - a dark and green
butterfly that is absolutely frenetic - it never stopped
moving. It's unbelievable that an insect can have such a
high energy level. Even though this is my third trip to the
butterfly reserve in roughly the same week of the year, this is
the first time I've seen 5 of these 10 species of butterfly.
We have had some luck previous years with
reptiles. This year we didn't see any, but we did see
Cicada! I've heard these insects before, but it was the
first time that I actually saw them on trees. They have
their own kind of striking beauty.
Biking Po Kong Village Road Park
Po Kong Village Road Park is a great day for
us. It's a single bus ride from Mong Kok where we
stay. We bike for two hours and then go to a close by
conveyor belt sushi place. The kids have a great morning and
they get some exercise! While the rental shop claims to be
open at 10am, we had to call to get some to open it.
Our first visit to Po Kong Village Road Park was in 2017 when
Claira was just 4. She was already a good biker, but her
training wheels meant she couldn't go on the big track. Last year, when we visited
the park, Claira was big enough to do the whole loop, but
it's a lot of work for a five year old so she only went around
twice. This year Claira was in great shape for the track -
she completed five laps!
Last year there was at least one whole
school class on the track when we were there. This year we
almost had it to ourselves. Claira wanted to be ahead of me
sometimes it was hard to see Nara as she likes to race ahead.
My favorite part of this bike location is the big buildings
overlooking the bike track. It's not hard to get the
buildings setup to dwarf the riders and give you a good sense of
the urban environment where this track is.
After the ride we went over to Genki
Sushi to grab a favorite lunch. This isn't a super fancy
setup - if you want something on the menu, you wave down a server
(no computer) and they bring it by when it's made (no custom
delivery track). That said, our favorites were on the belt
so we had no trouble finding lunch.
Flower Show at Victoria Park
We have visited the Flower Show
last year and we
visited six years ago. The flower show gives you a
good sense of Hong Kong - it's often really warm outside and there
are often large crowds. Some of the displays are put on by
the various parts of the city but others are put on by the large
attractions like Ocean Park. If you look a little further,
you will find displays by clubs and dedicated people in Hong
Unfortunately, the kids didn't last long in the heat. I only
have one spare camera so the kids took turns coming out from the
shaded tents and seeing the displays.
Each year they have a theme flower which you see in many of the
displays. This year the featured flower was Hibiscus which
happens to be a favorite because it is so showy in tropical
My rule with identifying species - I don't
label animals found in zoos, I don't label plants planted in parks
or gardens. These were beautiful flowers though!
After the show, we walked over to Time Square to visit the
CitySuper. They have a small food court which included high
end ice cream treats. The kids were thrilled to get a treat
and then watch video on my phone.
Long Valley is one of those places I have
heard of, but never actually visited - until this trip! I
got up early and took the KCR out to near the border with
China. From there I took a taxi and wound up in a small
village surrounded by farmers fields.
Long Valley is neither long (it's a
triangle where two rivers merge) nor a valley (mostly flat farmers
fields), but it does deliver the birds.
Mai Po marshes is the easy birding destination - there are large
blinds setup to watch large ponds. You sit in the blinds and
wait for the tide to come in to bring the ocean birds to
you. In Long Valley there are no blinds and some of the
birds really don't like people around. There are lots
of freshwater ponds where birds are feeding. If you are
lucky, you spot the bird before the bird spots you.
In the grasses and fields you will other birds looking for a meal.
Some of the habitat you see here you also see at Mai
Po, but I haven't tried finding birds in the open areas of Mai Po.
I managed to spot some drama. A
flock of about a dozen Scaly-breasted Munia were going plant to
plant eating seeds. These are quite social birds and they
moved as a flock from plant to plant. A Chinese pond heron
which I have previously seen stalk fish ran into the field and
grabbed a bird where the wing met it's body. The long beak
of the heron kept the struggling bird far from the soft parts of
the face. The Heron walked the small bird over to small
puddle and drowned it. After the bird was wet and lifeless,
it got swallowed.
The rest of the Munia just kept on going plant to plant eating
As I was walking out (apparently birding
is best within a few hours of sunrise) I ran into a small group of
dedicated birders. I think they had spotted a Prinia in the
tall grasses and were waiting for it to come back to the top to
get a nice view. I'm sure it easier birding with friends
that know the local birds, but I also appreciate the solitary
search on your own for new things.
Kam Shan Country Park
Last trip to Hong Kong we visited Kam Shan
Country Park. We didn't go earlier because I was concerned
that young kids and wild monkeys may not be a winning
combination. Given the success last year, we decided to try
again this year. Kam Shan is quite close to Mong Kok by bus
- hop on and 20 minutes later you are out in a forest walking with
semi wild animals!
New for this trip - the monkeys were rare
but the boars were out! Apparently wild boars are becoming
more common in Hong Kong and they are venturing more in the
city. These two were calm, but they are large enough that I
wouldn't want to see them angry.
We went for a walk down the road into the park and found a
trail. I'm not a big fan of walking a trail with kids
without having researched it first so we didn't put on km, but we
did manage to find some cool caterpillars!
Hong Kong Disneyland
The kids now know that Disneyland is in
Hong Kong. They ask about - can we go to Disneyland today -
almost every day. We want to maximize the experience which
means going mid week and going on a day where they aren't terribly
jet lagged so they can stay up late. Disneyland is still
quite a ways (at least an hour by train) from where we stay so
even if we left the park at 8:30, it will be almost 10pm before we
I get motion sickness quite easily so I
don't go on all the rides. The kids have been enough that
they now have favourites. The kids like the Mad Hatter tea
cup ride - I get sick just watching it.
We have gone on the Jungle Cruise every time we have gone, but
amazingly, Claira still gets scared at the animals jumping
out. We have done the Flying Jumbo ride before and unlike
Japan, you are allowed to take photos here.
The kids like the Winnie the Pooh ride (we
got fast passes - the only ride we used them on) and they enjoy
the "It's a Small World" ride.
New this year for us - we found characters with a reasonable line
where we could do a character visit!
The park provided a handler/photographer
to keep the lines reasonable and moving, but I was surprised that
our visit was more than 30 seconds. They were quite patient
with poses and the photographer offered to take a photo with my
In my mind, the real magic happens at night. The lights of
the park make for soft portraits and a magical location.
New for us this year, we stayed for the night parade. The
costumes were amazing - fibre optics and arrays of lights.
The Castle is
undergoing renovations so there is no fireworks
show. The kids enjoyed the parade, but they were
so tired by the time they got home.
Po Toi Island
Hong Kong has lots of outlying
islands. A few are prisons and drug treatment centers and
generally off limits to visitors. One (Lamma Island) is huge
and has an airport and a few big bridges. There are a few
more that are classic day trips - On my first trip to Hong Kong I went to Lamma Island
and on my third trip, I
went to Cheung Chau Island. and on my ninth trip we stopped on Kau Sai
There are plenty more islands with people
living on them around Hong Kong and some of them have infrequent
ferry service. Po Toi (sometimes called the "Antarctica of
Hong Kong" because it's the furthest south) was new to me so we
figured out the ferry schedule and made our way!
Po Toi has a few hiking routes. Basically, there is a big
mountain in the middle - you take one of a few routes up to the
top, hike along the ridge for a bit and then come down on the
eastern side of the Island with a huge view of the stairs.
Helen picked the route and we started up.
We had lunch at the top in a very windy shelter and then headed
down the stairs side. You really don't get a sense of how
much you have climbed until you see it laid out in front of you in
stairs. The effort that has gone into making these stairs
and railings has probably exceeded 10 years of the islands
Hong Kong Life
A good friend of mine Sean once commented
about Hong Kong (I'm paraphrasing - maybe badly) - a huge amount
of wasted effort goes into preventing people from ripping you
off. Because there is little trust, transactions are more
structured, complex and opportunities are wasted. Living in
Mong Kok, one of the things that always surprised me was the
morning deliveries. Food delivery companies will drop off
food outside a business before the business opens.
The trust here is extraordinary.
Clearly, someone could walk away with the fresh food and have it
themselves. The restaurant would then be short whatever
ingredient walked away and whatever profit that item would have
brought. Worse still - someone could poison the food (the
same way people tampered with Halloween candy or over the counter
medication in North America. One bad tampering and the
restaurant will be out of business forever. Considering the
high cost of retail rent - I'm surprised it hasn't happened
already. So when I see food sitting on the ground outside a
yet to open to restaurant, I kind of celibrate the trust a little.
Mong Kok at Night
Mong Kok is a vibrant neighborhood full of
activity at night. After we put the kids to bed, sometimes
we can go out for a walk for a desert to just take in the
sights. It was a lightly raining night so I was hoping the
ground would reflect some of the neon.
Hong Kong is an amazing place for Time Lapse. The city has
so much traffic and colour, the options are almost
I have to admit, I have a soft spot for produce markets in Hong
Kong. I try to resist because I already have so many
pictures, but some days I just can't help myself.
Thirteen trips to Hong Kong and always something new to do!