After a very hard goodbye, I decided to get a late start and just hang out in my hotel room until check-out. For those of you that don’t know me, let’s just say I love to be a house bum in my undies just as much as I like traveling and exploring new places. After making my plan for the day I decided to find a lunch spot and then try to find my way to the Zoological & Botanical Gardens. Since my flight to Australia wasn’t until around 11PM I thought, “Why not have one last adventure around Hong Kong?” Lucky for me, the Gardens are very close to the express train to the airport. This meant that I probably won’t have time to return to my hotel for my luggage. So that means I strapped 25 kilos worth of backpacks and said a prayer to whatever gods that my back would not hate me the next morning.
It was fairly easy to get to the gardens by bus. You just have to hop onto the #23 bus from Causeway bay in the direction of central. I’m highly suggesting that if you’re going here you take a bus or a car. Why? Because the other option is taking the metro to Central or Admiralty and then walking up a HUGE MOUNTAIN. The bus will drop you off on the highway, but if you follow signs you’ll find it easily.
For being one of the “highlights” of Hong Kong and “one of the oldest zoological and botanical centers in the world”, I expected there to be crowds of people. To my surprise it was fairly empty. Even around peak afternoon hours!
I walked around for a bit and noticed that the workers were starting to decorate for the Lunar New Year celebrations that happen towards the end of January. I bet that the garden will be even more beautiful after they have finished! But nothing can compare to the gem I found just around the corner from the welcome center. Maybe I’m a bit immature, but I couldn’t help but let out a giggle when I saw their recycling bins.
The “Zoo” part of the gardens
When I reading the reviews on TripAdvisor about this place, the one thing that seemed to be the main attraction was the Monkey section. I can tell you that while it may be nice to see monkeys in the middle of the city, there is nothing more depressing than their living conditions.
The cages were quite large, and maybe it’s alright for some of the smaller Capuchin’s, but the orangutan cage was just depressing. They had 3 in a cage and their hair looked unkempt and they just did not look very lively. My experience with the conditions of animals in zoos and aquariums in Asia have all been pretty awful. Maybe they do treat them well, but from what I could tell I would guess not. Then again, any caged animal in my opinion is never a good idea unless it’s for rescue &release purposes or to help prevent extinctions. Anyway, point is I didn’t like it. They also have added a new section with Meerkats and that was equally sad.
Into the city
If you leave the Meerkat house you’ll see a little path to your right. That’s the one you should follow and curve down to the left around the mountain that the gardens sit upon. It’s quite steep and I was a bit confused about my location for a good 10 minutes, but I eventually saw the signs for the metro. It’s a shame that I was leaving so soon, because this small area near central is just wonderful. There were many small restaurants and bars that looked very trendy. Definitely somewhere I would spend my evening if I had the time.
If you keep following the metro signs you’ll finally arrive at the main square. Once again I felt like I was in New York city. All of the people, the street performers, and the high end fashion shops leading up to the busy Subway line. I stopped to listen to one of the street performers, and after giving him s modest applause I disappeared into the crowd.
Instead of taking the cheap bus to the airport, my boyfriend convinced me to take the fast train. The thing is, I still had plenty of time to kill and was in no hurry to go to the airport. For the price of the fast train, I could have eaten a full meal with a drink and dessert! But I won’t complain because it was pretty convenient and arrived after just 20 minutes. Now here was my biggest mistake. You know how usually check-in counters don’t open until 3 hours before departure time? Well, I waited around until then only to find out that the check-in desk for Hong Kong Airlines was open all day. Figures.
I’m going to rant for about a second. Fucking airport security nightmare from hell.
The lines were insane and the poor guy in charge of keeping them in order seemed so stressed out. People were also laughing at him for yelling. It took maybe an HOUR to pass through customs! One thing I’ve realized is that people with certain passports tend to have a longer processing time than others. I was lucky enough to be in line behind 8 of these “longer processing” passports. While I don’t think it’s very fair that the immigration asks them so many questions, yet just look at me and stamp mine, I understand why they might scrutinize them. From what I understand, many South East Asians try to travel to other countries to sell goods or remain illegally. I experienced the same thing while living in South America. Not that I’m not capable of doing the same thing (in fact I have) but they would never question/suspect me. I can say that I’m very lucky, no, PRIVILEGED is a better word, that I never have problems at immigration….. Except in my own damn country. “The great” USA. But I’m off topic again!
Ps. I do not mean to offend anyone with my above statements, I’m simply sharing an observation and if anyone who reads this has experienced this kind of discrimination I’d love to hear about it! Or on the other hand, if you haven’t had to deal with discrimination, tell me so I can be more informed ❤ .
Once past immigration you should know that there is no location that will refund you the money that’s left on your Octopus cards. So make sure you cash them in before you go through immigration! If not and you are like me, then you can spend the rest of your money at Starbucks and the pharmacy.
And on that note I’ll leave you guys with a quote I really liked on an advertisement in the airport:
“Others see wealth, but I explore new horizons beyond wealthy”