Visiting All Of Hong Kong's Weirdest Attractions In 24 Hours
In my last blog I took to the skies and paraglided high above Hong Kong's national parks. Coming back with a euphoric sense of freedom I got back to my hostel knowing that my next day in Hong Kong would be my last. In fact it would be my last day in China before I set off to Australia to begin my one year visa out there. I decided we would need to go big this time. Heading off to unusual locations had become a favourite pass time of mine but to cram all of them into one day? Madness you say? Why would you try and do a thing like that? Well here's how I did it...
That evening I did a little planning to prepare for the adventure. Atlas obscura is my go to on a trip like this, a cornucopia of the world's strangest. I used Instagram a lot too enabling me to get a list of spots I wanted to visit. In fact my list was growing late into the night and I could only hope that I'd fit them all in before midnight the next day. I had another idea too, something to get me off to an explosive start. In Hong Kong there is a noonsday gun that fires every day at 12am. This would be my first spot. So I took my time getting up, only leaving the hostel around 11am towards the gun.
Grabbing a few trains on the underground I made my way to the ocean. I walked along the promenade towards my first location. Arriving around 11.30 I was the first there peering through a metal fence into the sight of the Noonday Gun situated in amongst four bright blue cannons. As I looked out for signs of life others began to gather round me to watch it fire.
Location 1: Noonday Gun - Causeway Bay
The Noonday Gun (Chinese: 午炮) is a former naval artillery piece mounted on a small enclosed site near the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter on Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong. Owned and operated by Jardine Matheson, the gun is fired every day at noon and has become a tourist attraction. - Wikipedia
I watched as a tiny fishing boat powered by a small motor bumbled along towards the site. It moored at the base of some concrete steps out of the water. A Chinese guard emerged dressed in military uniform and cap. He walked up towards the gun and began to check the time. While all this unfolded I was getting to know some of the other people who had come to see the gun set off. The most interesting of which was a film crew filming a documentary about an old man and his son. I chatted to one of the cameramen and learned a bit about what they were doing. In mid conversation an American woman turned and said 'quick it's about to go off.' I poised my camera ready, filming myself with the gun behind and was ready to set off on my tour of unusual locations.
The guard raised his arm and exactly on twelve fired the gun out into the ocean. It was so loud it took me by surprise causing me to duck involuntarily. I walked straight off towards my first location! Time was against me and I pushed on in order to squeeze the spots in. My next location was the central elevator.
Location 2: Central Elevator - Connaught Road, Central and West District
The Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system in Hong Kong is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. The system covers over 800 m (2,600 ft) in distance and traverses an elevation of over 135 m (443 ft) from bottom to top. It opened in 1993 to provide an improved link between the Central and Mid-Levels districts on Hong Kong Island. - Wikipedia
Stepping off the train I located the escalators running up Hong Kong's streets. It was like discovering a free theme park ride in the middle of a city. I stepped on and was easily pulled up along with hundreds of others 20 minutes away. I could imagine how surreal it would feel if this was your commute. In a strange stroke of fortune common to travel stories I bumped into a Chinese friend I went to school with 5 years before. He had left school and got a job here in Hong Kong. Every morning he took the central elevator to work! Then probably because I was the only British guy around I was interviewed on tv about what I was doing in the city. I never did find that footage...
After the elevators it was time to visit a place I found while scrolling through Instagram.
Location 3: Monster Building - 1046 Kings’ Road Quarry Bay
This popular Instagram location is made up of five interconnected towers. It was quite tricky to find but definitely worth it!
Another train and I had made it to King's road. I searched for hours to find this one drastically reducing my time. In amongst tall tower blocks there was an alley leading to the centre of these five buildings collectively know as Hong Kong's monster building. Over the years this had become an Instagram hot spot and when I arrived I noticed several groups of people getting photos of themselves posing in front of the buildings. I asked a local to snap a photo of me, looked around for a little then was off again knowing time was against me. On my way out down some stairs I witnessed two Chinese men having an argument before for some reason throwing an office chair down the stairs.
Time for our next location, I was on my way to a rabbit cafe!
Location 4: Rabbitland Café - 530 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay
Again can be a little hard to find as the location doesn't show up well on google maps. You will find a little doorway and follow steps up to a rather unknown café. Expect a rather enthusiast man who REALLY loves rabbits.
Arriving at the entrance to Rabbitland I climbed 3 floors of steps to reach a strange little door decorated in rabbits. I entered and was seated at a tiny table where I kneeled at a table to look at the menu. All around me rabbits ran free weaving their way amongst the tables. They nibbled at everything in sight, the table legs, grass from people's hands and one was even eating the box to a game of rummikub!
I ordered a carrot cake which was delicately presented in the shape of a rabbit, beside it another one made of powdered sugar. Every aspect of the place had been thought through and made rabbit themed. Every handle, painting, book or window had something to do with rabbits. Meanwhile the real rabbits seemed quite happy plodding along the floor meeting new people. I thanked the owner and was ready for my next stop.
Location 5: The Whampoa - Whampoa Garden, Hunghom, Kowloon
There's no way you can miss this one! For some reason there's a cruise ship in the middle of the city, and oh yeah did I mention it's also a shopping mall...
This surreal location had been on my list for a while. This luxury cruise ship had somehow found it's way in-between city skyscrapers. It reminded me of a scene from The Day After Tomorrow where a ship is washed into the city on the waves of a tsunami. It looked so out of place I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. I wandered around the outside, took a look from an elevator on one of the skyscrapers, worked my way through the shopping more tucked away inside and even went up to the top deck for a beer!
Enough sailing I thought so went on my way to somewhere new. I planned to explore some abandoned building along with a few spots that could be considered a bit sketchy. I found myself in a maze of apartment blocks and after entering one of them I found it hard to find my way out. It was the middle of the night now and I was approached by a local gang hanging around on some steps up to higher floors. They first tried to sell me drugs here before getting far too interested in my camera gear and what I had in my bag. With all the charm I could muster, I complimented them and slowly worked my way back towards where I thought the entrance was. After saying goodbye in my limited Chinese 'zài jiàn.' I quickly walked through the tower block alleyways not looking back and was relieved to find my way out onto the street.
I wrote off my plan for exploring the abandoned places round here and tried to find my final location for the night while my eyes began to fade. It was almost 10pm and I was determined to find this last place before heading back for sleep. I was in search of the Harry Potter café!
Location 6: 9 3/4 café - 9 Yin Chong Street, Mong Kok, Shop 404, 4/F, Prosper Commercial Building,
Another rather hidden place. You will find it inside what seems to be a run down office building. Go inside the dodgy elevator and up you go to this local spot. Harry potter fans can't get enough of it!
I really hoped this one would be easy but either due to being tired or because it's literally impossible to find I spent over 2 hours looking for this bloody café. I arrived at the door when they had just closed but was kindly invited to look around. I had a quick glance in before going back to the hostel. I had a plane to catch the next day and the night had escaped me, mainly in search of Harry Potter. All in all my day had been full of exploration, danger and a few rather unusual circumstances. All that good stuff. I thank Hong Kong for it's wonderful locations. All that bad stuff?
I blame hedwig.
In my next blog it's time to visit Australia! I get the plane over and meet my family who I'll be staying with for the start of my journey. I'm coming for you oz!