Monday, 21 December 2015

The joyful cable cars of Oriental Venice

Before I begin, please forgive me. The title is misleading. The joyful cable cars are not actually in the Oriental Venice, but I have been sat here for way too long trying to think of a title for this blog post (I eventually decided against my dad's suggestion of 'Ngong Ping Pong Kong'). The joyful cable cars were on the way to Ngong Ping , while Oriental Venice is a village fifteen minutes' bus ride away from Ngong Ping. 



So, Ngong Ping is essentially a tourist village on the island of Lantau, near Hong Kong airport. Don't let the tourist villageyness put you off though.

The airport is the area to the left behind the hill

Firstly, I must tell you about the old Hong Kong airport, Kai Tak. It was insane. Starting off as a small airport outside of the central, er, village, Hong Kong rapidly expanded and in the 1990s the airport was literally in the middle of the city, with dangerously low-flying aircraft dodging the mountains and ever-rising buildings. Unfortunately, though, I missed it by eighteen years, as it closed in 1997. :(

The old Kai Tak airport, courtesy of Google
But luckily Hong Kong didn't completely give up on airport awesomeness, because even though the new airport wasn't as excitingly placed as Kai Tak, they created the nearly 6km long Ngong Ping cable car route which went, well not over the airport, but close to it. So, from this cable car you could see aeroplanes taking off and landing on this island airport of their's. Pretty cool.

Aeroplanes landing
After experiencing the Longest Queue Ever (LQE) of one and a half hours (luckily it was in bits and pieces – you always thought you'd reached the end of the line when you got to the stairs / the ticket office / the corner / the ticket inspector etc., only to be greeted with yet another continuous queue, so you never felt completely past hope), we got onto the cable car. And it was totally worth it.
The third section of the LQE
Over the sea and watching the aeroplanes, going over the mountains, over some temples and then seeing the first sight of the famous Big Buddha. You could also see the ongoing construction site which is the half-built Macau bridge which'll eventually connect Macau (64km away) with Hong Kong, apparently in 2017.

Bridge construction
Ngong Ping itself is a little village with quirky souvenir shops (selling magnets, keyrings and make-up pouches with the happiest cable cars you could imagine as well as chopsticks ornated with pandas, cats, fish and I'm sure cable cars too), interesting photo opportunities (a 3D-image of Tai O, the fishing village we went to afterwards, and pink dolphins etc.) and numerous restaurants with less-than-delighted waiters and waitresses (where I had the only ramen of my trip, despite spending a whole week in Japan...)

SO GLAD I bought this. Make-up bag feat. happy cable cars HELLO
Chopsticks galore
Ramen with dumplings
Do you think the shark was vegetarian, or if it's like a tofu version of shark meat?
3D fishing village photo op
When you go beyond the eating holes and the cabins of mammon (my dad calls shopping centres 'temples of mammon', but the nickname for souvenir shops should be something smaller, right?) you get to an area more traditionally Chinese, with a pretty arch, a monastery and the famous Big Buddha. Oh, and cows. 

We attempted to take photos with them, but they were being a little moo-dy (thanks James) and refused to pose.

Not today mate

The colourful monastery of Ngong Ping was very pretty with Buddha-statues playing funky guitars.

We climbed up the two hundred-ish steps to the "buddhaful" (again, thanks James) big Buddha as well, where the views of the Hong Kong archipelago were gorgeous. 

After Ngong Ping I had a quick nap on our bus to our next destination, Tai O

Tai O is this surreal, quaint little fishing village, with residents many of whom may not have even left the village. Tripadvisor describes it as 'Venice of the Orient'  - an accurate description to a certain extent. It is built around the sea and canals, and the houses are stilted, the people are smiley, and the seafood is dried.

Exhibit A
I don't think that vegetarian diet agreed with him...

You can also find various useful objects in assortments and piles around the village. 

After a photo sesh through the village, we were disappointed to learn that we'd just missed the opening hours of this good cider place James knew of. Luckily a few doors down was something maybe even more interesting - this shop/house we'd passed earlier, curious – surrounded with paintings of cats and, what it seemed, to be the actual models for the paintings. 
Painting and model
Going through the gate we found a little cat-themed souvenir shop and what turned out to be a cafe – and my first ever cat cafe. And it definitely did set a high bar for any future feline-themed coffee shops.

THEY WERE ADORABLE, IT WAS ADORABLE, one of the best finds of the trip. <3 TAI O CAT CAFE HOW I ADORE THEE. I felt no need to frequent any other cat cafes during my trip since nothing could beat this meow-gnificently purr-fect cat-fé where I spent some paw-sitively paw-some meow-ments (k maybe it's time to go to bed...)

(like a good essay...) IN CONCLUSION our day at Ngong Ping and Tai O was my favourite day out of four splendid days in Hong Kong. Anyone who says Hong Kong is just high-line pompous skyscrapers... go to Tai O, because you are wrong. 

So, that was Hong Kong. As I said, one of my new favourite cities in the world. 

Next stop: Taiwan! 


PS. Thanks again to YOU who read this, and everyone who's ever mentioned to me that they read my blog, I really appreciate it!! :) And as always, feedback and comments are more than welcome, would love to hear more! 



  1. Your dad sounds really wise - I look forward to meeting him some time.