Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

After immersing ourselves in the rich history of Beijing, we boarded a plane and flew to Hong Kong. Upon landing I almost turned Ian’s hand blue by squeezing it so hard! Hong Kong’s airport is nestled right on the coast, therefore as a first time visitor, I honestly thought we were making an emergency landing in the ocean! Luckily, land appeared moments before the wheels touched down and I let out a huge sigh of relief!

By the time we got settled in our hotel it was dark out. Normally my plan would be to grab dinner and get an early night’s sleep – but we were in Hong Kong! Ian and I wanted to make the most of our time on the island and chose to head into the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong’s nightlife. First on our agenda was to walk down to Victoria Harbor and watch the nightly laser show. After the 15 minute event we walked to the popular Ladies Market and strolled past booths selling everything from handbags to jade figurines.

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

The next day we woke up before sunrise to trek up to Victoria Peak and soak in the views of the city. Hong Kong is one of the most surreal places I have ever visited! Skyscrapers are nestled into the terrain from the base of the mountain range down to the harbor. It is simply breathtaking!

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

As someone who is terrified of heights, my blood pressure was off the charts the majority of this day! After teetering on the edge of the highest mountain in Hong Kong at Victoria Peak Ian and I made the trek across town to catch a cable car ride up into the mountains to hike up to the Tian Tin Buddah. I kept my eyes closed most of the ride, but Ian encouraged me to look out the window once the Buddah peaked through the mountain tops. It was a deeply moving experience and a true highlight of our China adventure.

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Once we were back from the mountains we took the metro over to the Happy Valley Racecourse for our first horse race experience! The race track is simply stunning as it is located in the heart of Hong Kong island and surrounded by skyscrapers. Ian and I upgraded our tickets to sit in a booth and enjoyed placing bets on our favorite horses. Bonus: bets could be as low as $2.50, so it was perfect for first timers! We didn’t end up winning anything, but the atmosphere at the racetrack made this outing one of our favorite nights!

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

And just like that, our time in Hong Kong was up! We had an afternoon flight home and were able to squeeze in a quick metro ride to the Wong Tai Sin temple. As we walked around the temple we were engulfed in incense as locals practiced their daily prayers. We were short on time, so we couldn’t explore as much of the temple as we would have liked, but we were thankful we managed to squeeze in as much time there as we did.

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Travel Guide: Hong Kong, China

Watch the video below to catch a glimpse into one second from each day in October. Traveling to China made this month fly by!

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Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

China. Where do I even begin? Our eight day adventure was packed with tours of ancient landmarks, hikes to breathtaking viewpoints, a flight to Hong Kong, and endless plates of delicious food. When I sat down to write this post I stared at the blank screen for far too long. My mind was overloaded with all of the memories we made, but I had to start somewhere. So let me walk you through the first part of our journey – Beijing.

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

It’s no secret mainland China is still a developing country. So while you are touring beautiful estates like the Summer Palace and Forbidden City you will have to make a few adjustments. One of which is the squatty potty. That’s right ladies! While in mainland China, even going to the bathroom is an adventure! Western toilets are uncommon, especially around tourist attractions. So be prepared to embrace the culture and work on your thigh muscles while squatting over a porcelain hole in the floor.

Another adjustment is website censorship. Want to post that cute photo to Facebook? Too bad! Popular websites like Facebook, Instagram, and even Google are not accessible in mainland China. If you need to look something up via your hotel wifi you can use Bing, but regarding your photos, you will have post updates after your trip.

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Enough about the logistics, let’s talk about the sights! First up on our Beijing adventure was a tour of the Summer Palace. I could have spent hours walking through all of the long corridors, gazing out over the lake, and listening to the locals chanting in the garden. Every corner offered a new surprise and each was more beautiful than the last.

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

From the hand-painted windows to the sweet old man who painted a portrait of me with water, the Summer Palace was a trip highlight. If I were ever to visit China again, I would make sure to set enough time aside to take a boat ride across the lake. It is a beautiful setting for a relaxing afternoon and I’m sure the views from the lake are breathtaking!

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

After leaving the Summer Palace we made our way over to Teiniman Square. It was here that Ian and I realized being blonde and blue-eyed makes you a celebrity in Beijing! I can’t tell you how many times we got stopped to take pictures! It was a bit unsettling at first, but by the end of the day I was used to people filming us on their phones as we walked by and grabbing us for a quick photo.

Once we walked across the massive square we entered the gates to the Forbidden City. You could spend three days exploring this palace, but time wasn’t on our side. With sore feet, we stumbled past the highlights and ogled at the architecture under two hours.

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

On our last day in Beijing, we journeyed out to the Great Wall. Before our trip I hurt my knee, which made it difficult to walk, therefore I was nervous about making it up the Wall’s endless stairs. It was a bit of a struggle, but I made it up to the 11th checkpoint without too much pain! I had to ice my knee that night, but climbing up the stones of the Great Wall and looking out across the mountain range was well worth it!

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

Travel Guide: Beijing, China

The little time left in Beijing was spent attending a Kung Fu show, enjoying local restaurants, and walking around the Olympic village. I wished we could have spent more time in the city, but we had to move onto our next destination – Hong Kong! Stay tuned for a travel post later this week!