Undergraduate of the Year: Alex’s week in Hong Kong

3 July 2017

Just a week after joining us, our Undergraduate of the Year, Alex Stickler, travelled from Jersey to spend a fun-filled week with our First Names in Hong Kong. The trip was part of Alex’s prize for winning our ‘One to Watch’ category in the 2017 student awards, along with a paid summer internship in our Jersey head office. Here, he shares his experience by providing his top five Hong Kong ‘must-dos’.

Hello! I’m Alex, a 21-year-old, Somerset-bred, Jersey-living, internship-loving guy, and I very recently had the pleasure of joining First Names Group in Hong Kong for an amazing week of sight-seeing, culture and getting to know the local team. Here are my top five must-dos for anyone visiting Hong Kong:

1. Victoria Peak
I completed the two-hour round hike on a misty night with the humidity of the city taking full effect. The views from the top are unparalleled, giving a real taste for the sheer size of the buildings – I was definitely humbled by the experience! At night the city is alive and vibrant, so the serenity of the walk was a welcome change. Plus, if you walk rather than taxi it’s far more satisfying knowing that you’ve earnt those breath-taking views.

2. Hong Kong Island adventure
It may seem a bit naff to undertake an open top bus tour of the island, but it does ensure that you get to see all of the wonders that are on offer. The south side of the island (Stanley and Repulse Bay) is not to be missed; the direct removal of city life allows for a flavour of how many of the locals live here and you can take a dip in the lukewarm South China Sea. As part of the tour I also got to jump on a Sampan (a local Chinese boat) and glide through an area populated by Hong Kong fishermen living on boat houses in the harbour. The contrast between the shanty houses they live in and the superyachts that reside next to them is just astounding!

3. Outer-island hopping
On Thursday I spent the afternoon strolling around Lamma Island, one of Hong Kong’s territorial islands. During the walk you can indulge in the local fishing culture, hunt for wildlife, and bask in the impressive views from a lookout point on the hill. Lamma is also home to one of Hong Kong’s largest power stations, which is worth a visit. The island pathways lead you through a few tiny villages, which are more than a few steps behind the mainland, and it gives you a taste of the difference in wealth levels throughout the area.

4. The Horse Races
I was taken to the races on Wednesday night in Happy Valley. I’m not big on horse racing back in England so this was my first ever visit to a track. The air was electric, with locals and expats alike hoping to land a winning ticket. I managed to win the first five races I betted on (only small stakes of HK$20, equivalent to £2) so I walked away with a free night. There is an obscene amount of money flowing through these races, as most gambling in Hong Kong is prohibited – I heard that more money can be placed on a single race here than what will be spent during the entire week at Ascot! I would definitely recommend grabbing a table down at the side of track as opposed to sitting in the stands; you will meet a wide variety of people and it’s far more exciting being in such close proximity. However horses aren’t the only entertainment…

5. Non-stop nightlife
With Hong Kong being such a densely populated area, you will never be short of bars to try. I was taken to some amazing restaurants with sublime food, and then it’s a pop next door for a few drinks. The hotel I was staying in was at the top of an infamous street named Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), which is definitely worth a visit if you feel like a busy night – picture an Asian Magaluf. As Hong Kong has a key Asian airport there is a wide array of nationalities here, either for work, a holiday, or just stopping over before continuing their journey, and this cocktail of diverse cultures definitely comes out when wandering through LKF. For something a little different, try smoke in a bottle at the hidden bar called The Iron Fairies.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Hong Kong. The team was amazing and I experienced a completely different way of living. The comparison between Hong Kong and my home town of Taunton is laughable, with the tallest building there being a four-storey Debenhams. Apparently in Hong Kong more people live above the 21st floor than below, and if that doesn’t give you a sense of the scale of things then I don’t know what will! I’d like to thank everyone for being incredible hosts, and hope to see them back in Hong Kong very soon.

For more information on our involvement with Undergraduate of the Year, and to find out how you could enter to become our 2018 ‘One to Watch’, please visit our Graduate Careers page.