Hung Hom Train Station, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Here at Starbucks in Kowloon´s Hung Hom train station I am getting a good wireless signal but not sure if it is Starbucks or not.

Things here seem to be named in complicated ways with some overlap.  This is the key Hong Kong train station to mainland but it is in Kowloon and called Hung Hom.    We will board for Shanghai in about an hour and take the 20 hour train north, hopefully with some scenery.   We have soft sleepers but not the top class of them  and I´m not clear how comfortable we will be yet, but I think just fine.

Victoria Peak Tram, Hong Kong

Here on Victoria Peak the view is legendary….but we can’t see due to fog right now.   The tram was a fun and cool short ride up extremely steep slope to the top where there is a nice “Pacific Coffee” shop from which I’m writing this off a free internet terminal.    Ironically I’m carrying around my spiffy 2 pound eee PC but it would have cost to use the WIFI that way.  

Dim Sum for Breakfast was tasty

World’s largest cities

Largest city is hard to define, but I think metro area population is the best measure and according to Wikipedia these are the top ten:

1 Tokyo Japan 32,450,000 8,014 4,049
2 Seoul South Korea 20,550,000 5,076 4,048
3 Mexico City[2] Mexico 20,450,000 7,346 2,784
4 New York City[3] United States 19,750,000 17,884 1,104
5 Mumbai India 19,200,000 2,350 8,170
6 Jakarta Indonesia 18,900,000 5,100 3,706
7 Sao Paulo Brazil 18,850,000 8,479 2,223
8 Delhi India 18,600,000 3,182 5,845
9 Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto Japan 17,375,000 6,930 2,507
10 Shanghai China 16,650,000 5,177 3,216

Surprising to me was that Shanghai and Hong Kong are both larger than Beijing which was in 16th place, and all three are smaller than New York City. (Where do all our billion+ Chinese friends live, anyway?)

Hey, I’ll be in two of the top ten over the next week! Hong Kong and Shanghai. Cool.

Hong Kong Travel Tips

Thanks to some advice from Matt at Cutler Investments I’ve started a great list of things to do in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing.     I’m also reading guidebooks and surfing but it’s always best to talk to experience travelers (or better yet, locals) who can clue you in to the “must see” tourist spots as well as the hidden gems.  

For this first trip to Hong Kong I just had him quickly list for me some of the “don’t miss” stuff and I’m fleshing this in as I go with details as I find more things to see – this is as much for my reference as anything else. 

Stanley Market

Fishing Villages via Ferry, where they’ll fix the fish you choose at a local restaurant.   Aberdeen has many places like this plus the monster brightly lit floating restaurant called ?   The food there is not great but OK.

Star Ferry Hong Kong to Kowloon.   This is the one often cited for great views of the Hong Kong skyline.

Nathan Street Night Market

Double Decker bus.   Take it from Wau Chai sp?  over the mountain.   Get the upstairs front seat for the best dramatic views and experience as it whizzes through traffic and over steep cliffsides.    I think we can get on this near our first hotel, the Island Pacific Hotel, right off the main road that forms a crescent around Victoria Harbor.

Trams:  There is one to Victoria Peak and another I’m not yet clear about.

Lei Yu Mun

Temple Street Market

Top 14 Must-See Sights from Oriental Travel:

Victoria Peak

Ocean Park

Ladies Street

Temple Street


Star Ferry

Tsing Ma Bridge

Po Lin Monastery & Tai O


Mai Po Natural Area

Central District

Happy Valley

360 Ngong Ping  Hong Kong Disneyland

Central District (then to Star Ferry)

Star Ferry Small green and white ferries link Central District on Hong Kong Island with Tsim Shs Tsui. 10 minutes.Aberdeen : Hong Kong Tsai – traditional fishing village. Boat-dwellers in the Aberdeen Bay, shuttling with sampan along the Bay. Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Bak (Tai Bei) Seafood Boat in Aberdeen Habour. Free travel by ferry boat to the restaurants, then to old Hong Kong Tsai Street and to the Hung Shing (God of the South Seas and weather prophet) Temple at the juncture of the sea lane and the land road, and the Tin Hau Temple

Victoria Peak “funicular” Tram.Double Decker Bus Ride

Ding ding rail tram across north side of Island – sit upstairs.Ngong Ping Cable Car: spectacular 5.7km bi-cable. From Tung Chung, cross Tung Chung Bay, angle station on Airport Island, turning in air towards North Lantau.

The Po Lin temple (Big Buddah! & Tai O fishing village:
On Lantau Island – take the Ngong Ping Cable car?
Temple Street “men’s street bazaar”. Between Yau Ma Tei and Jordan. Men clothing, watches etc. Chinese opera at end of banyan trees. Bustling like a night club. The Tung Choi Street is also known as Ladies Street and has women’s clothing, handbags, etc for sale.

Island Pacific Hotel, Hong Kong

We are booked for three nights at the Island Pacific Hotel in Hong Kong and I’m looking forward to enjoying what looks like a great hotel very near the waterfront along Hong Kong’s spectacular Victoria Harbor. 

We appear to be about two miles to the west of downtown Hong Kong, though only about a mile from the metro which can take us all over the city, and I think we are easy walking distance from the Macau Ferry Terminal where we can catch ferries to other parts of the Hong Kong island empire.   There are several huge ferry terminal complexes along the harbor and I’m not sure how this works yet.   The site of all those ships in the harbor must be amazing.

Hong Kong to Shanghai by Train

With less than a week to go on the China trip I’m trying to pin down some trip details.   We have our China Visas Passport attachments, which my friend picked up for us at the Chinese Embassy in San Francisco.   We’ve got our Medford to Hong Kong Plane Tickets, and we are booked at the Island Pacific Hotel on the harbor in the western part of Hong Kong.    The hotel appears to be excellent quality and appeared to be a very good deal at’s $87 per night.

From Hong Kong International I understand we take a metro or bus that will deliver us to the Metro station at the Macau ferry terminal .   Update:  There is an express train to downtown hong kong from the Airport leaving every 12 minutes that costs about $15 US, but we’ll take the Island Pacific hotel shuttle for about $19 that departs from A02 every 30 minutes and will deliver us to the Island Pacific Hotel = cool!.   which is within a mile of the hotel.   I think the hotels have pickups but not at the airport which is some 60 miles away by road on Lantau Island.  Hong Kong is the major city on the Island of Hong Kong, but there are many other big cities and activity on many other islands in the area, all connected by a massive ferry system that centers on docks along the Hong Kong  Waterfront or Victoria Harbor, one of the world’s busiest ports and most spectacular waterfront skylines.    We’ll be able to see this from our hotel.

We’ve heard some criticism from folks who have travelled in China about the plan to take a 20 hour overnight train to Shanghai, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be just fine and will see more of the countryside this way.  The train system is huge and there are many classes of travel.   We’ll probably try to get the “soft sleeper” which looks great from pictures on non-official websites.   Some have said that travelling in the seats will hurt backs, but I have a hunch many of the bad rumors are from China’s pre-capitalist days when travel was a lot more spartan. 

From the excellent (and I hope very accurate) train travel website www.Seat61.comHK to Shanghai runs on odd dates in Jan, March, June, July 2008, & even dates in Feb, April, May 2008

We need to remember this:

 The station in Hong Kong is in Kowloon and called ‘Hung Hom’ …. the Chinese refer to Hong Kong/Kowloon as ‘Jiulong’

So it looks like we’ll shoot for the April 4th train to Shanghai!    Cost should be about $120 per person for a really nice sleeper.

 I’m a little concerned about trying to buy tickets there just a few days before but that gives us some flexibility and also I’m hearing it can be more expensive and complicated to reserve them here or online.

Hong Kong Harbor, Beijing’s Forbidden City, and the Great Wall of China

Wow.   Planning the China Trip is really getting exciting for me.   I’m going to get to see some of the things I’ve heard about for most of my life – things that are on “The List” of stuff I just had to do like Hong Kong Harbor, Beijing, and more.  China’s Yellow Mountains are on my list as are is the Terra Cotta army in X’ian, but those will probably have to wait for the next trip because this one is filling up fast and, frankly, I’d rather relax and enjoy things than try to see too much stuff on my first trip over.

It now appears that the best approach may be to fly to Hong Kong.   I’m finding the Hong Kong flights are in the $700 range rather than the $1000+ to Beijing, and Hong Kong is somewhat closer to Xiamen where I’ll be at the SES China conference.    Also, I’ve learned that the train system in China is modern, comfortable, cheap, and extensive.    I like the idea of rolling along between cities rather than just plane hopping, and since I have the time I’m thinking a good route might be this:

Fly SFO to Hong Kong and spend a few days seeing Hong Kong Harbor and the city.  

Get a deluxe sleeper car for the trip to Xiamen.

Continue on the train to Beijing where I’m meeting up with friends.

Train Beijing to Shanghai if we decide to go there.  

Train from Shanghai to Hong Kong, perhaps stopping in any neat places I scoped out during the earlier trip in opposite direction.