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

29 August 2018

Last month, Undergraduate of the Year winner Christina Hadjiyianni travelled from Jersey to spend a week with our First Names in Hong Kong as part of her prize for being our 2018 ‘One to Watch’. Here, Christina tells all about her trip.

Hello! My name is Christina and I am a 20-year-old student who has spent the summer interning with First Names Group in Jersey. As part of my internship, I had the pleasure of joining the Hong Kong team for an amazing week of sightseeing, cultural immersion and a flavour of how things operate differently in the Asian financial markets. Here are just some of the things I got up to whilst in Hong Kong…

Day 1 - Victoria Peak

The weather throughout my week in Hong Kong was amazing, with temperatures in the mid-30˚Cs (high 80˚F). So, rather than completing the two-hour round hike to get to the Peak, I opted for the Peak Tram instead! The ride was a fun experience, with some great views of the city through the grassy hillsides and forest. 

However, the views from the top were unparalleled and put into perspective the scale of the city. Although there were a number of activities at the top catered towards tourists, if you want to get away from the crowds, opt for the 40-minute walk, which takes you around the peak and gives you incredible views of the rest of the island. 

I then spent the evening at Ce La Vi rooftop bar, which offered 360° views of Central at night.

Day 2 - The Markets and Ozone

I visited a number of markets on the Tuesday, including Sham Shiu Po market and Ladies’ Market. The locals use Sham Shiu Po predominantly, whilst the Ladies’ Market caters for tourists. Exploring the hectic streets of both places was a lot of fun, and I managed to haggle my way through buying a couple of items at a reduced price. Never settle for the original asking price! 

My evening was spent in Ozone, the highest open rooftop bar in the city, on the 118th floor! From this vantage point, not only are there fantastic views of the island, but come 8pm you also get to enjoy the light show put on by all the skyscrapers in the city!    

Day 3 - Big Buddha and the races 

Perhaps the attraction I was most excited about visiting was the Tian Tan Buddha, more commonly known as the Big Buddha, located on Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. From starting the journey to Lantau in a glass-floored cable car, to the small village of Ngong Ping, to climbing up the 268 steps to finally reach the Buddha, my time on the island was fantastic.

Below the statue are the halls of the Universe, Benevolent Merit and Remembrance, which I also spent some time exploring. Nearby sits Po Lin Monastery, a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong, with many people making the journey to pray here. It is definitely worth a visit!

Another highlight of the week was being taken to the Happy Valley Racecourse. It was the last race night of the year, so the place was packed! The atmosphere of the racecourse was electric and even though the stakes for most were not that high (people usually make small bets of £2 - £5), it is very hard not to get carried away by the excitement of each race. The journey back home involved a ride on the Hong Kong Tram, which is a long, thin bus, reminiscent of the Knight Bus in Harry Potter! 

Day 4 - Man Mo Temple, Victoria Prison, lunch and Cheung Chau Island 

Thursday was a very busy day which started with a trip to Man Mo Temple, located in Sheung Wan. The historic building stands out in comparison to the surrounding urban landscape of high rises and offices. However, its location makes it a popular place for those who live and work in the city to escape the busy streets, with many people taking some time to pray on their lunch breaks. 

I also had the chance to stop by Victoria Prison, which has been recently renovated into a beautiful space. The architecture is very European; a reminder of Hong Kong’s colonial past and British influences. 

At lunch, I was taken out by the team and treated to a number of local dishes. I had just one request – the stranger the better; and I got exactly that! Mixed in with the more common Chinese dishes of spring rolls and dumplings were some wonderfully weird dishes. These included: duck’s tongue, chicken feet, pig’s trotter, pork intestine, cow’s stomach lining and jellyfish. Whilst I will not be rushing back for seconds anytime soon, the best dish was the chicken feet! So if you were ever feeling adventurous, I would recommend trying them!  

After lunch, I caught the ferry to Cheung Chau Island, or as I like to call it, Bicycle Island. It is a fascinating place to visit, as the island has no vehicles apart from a few motorised carts, which carry local produce around the island. Instead, everyone gets around on bicycles and visitors can rent one for the day. The difference between the city and the islands is quite noticeable from the moment you leave the pier, as the lack of vehicles means it has a far more relaxed atmosphere, less noise and smaller crowds. If you were planning to visit every corner of the island, I would recommend hiring a bike. However, I opted to get around on foot, as everything I wanted to see was no more than a 40-minute walk from the ferry drop-off point. 

I visited Pak Tai Temple, Kwan Kung Pavilion, Kwun Yam Temple, walked along the ‘Mini Great Wall’ (not really a wall, more of trail) to the vantage point at the top, and ended the day on Kwun Yam Beach. I also had time to try some of Cheung Chau’s famous fish balls on a stick before catching the late ferry back to Hong Kong Island. The ferry trip was a great way to finish the day, with the sun setting over the Lamma Channel.   

Day 5 - Stanley and sampan ride 

The hop-on-hop-off bus tour to Stanley was a great way to see a bit more of the island. Stanley is a charming seaside town, with a nice market and a pretty harbour full of fishing boats. After I had a wander around and had some lunch at a local restaurant, I caught the bus and headed to Aberdeen. The sampan ride was the highlight of the day as it took you all around the harbour and gave plenty of photo opportunities of the floating restaurant!

Day 6 – Hong Kong Park and botanical gardens

Before my flight back, I spent the day walking around Hong Kong Park and the botanical gardens. I also had just enough time to explore the Landmark shopping centre before heading to the airport. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Hong Kong and would like to say a massive thank you to the team who were amazing hosts. Even though I was only there for a week, I fell in love with the city and the way of life and hope to be back in Hong Kong very soon!

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