With the Chinese New Year upon us, I had elected to remain in the city to experience what the festival was like in Hong Kong. Just kidding, I forgot to book my flights to the Philippines in time. I was remaining behind with a few friends in the same situation, so we decided to make the most of our week off of school by exploring different parts of the city.
Our crazy night out started the same as every other crazy night out starts – by someone exclaiming that they were bored. With events looking slim in the evening, and the group growing tired of the typical LKF jaunt, we made the decision to dress to the nines, and simply see where the night would take us.
A few hours of makeup application and tie adjusting later and our group was ready to hit the rails. We caught the MTR down from Kowloon Tong to our first stop – TST. Colloquially known as “the Dark Side” it’s often thought that the Kowloon side of the city has little to offer. This saying only holds true for those who don’t know where to look. Instead of our normal train, we had elected to take the East Rail Line, so after what seemed like an hour lost underground, we found our way to the surface, and entered the first bar we found.
Being the most vertical city in the world, it only made sense that the bar was on the 28th floor of the building. As the elevator doors opened, we’re greeted by a host and rushed into Aqua – a bar with an unparalleled view of the island skyline through a giant wall.
Being the mature university students we were, we decided that we wanted to enjoy the view – mainly because we couldn’t afford the drinks. Kelly made up a story about waiting for a friend, and after lingering too long, Alexis, Lou and myself dashed towards the elevator to avoid being pressured to purchase cocktails, Kelly not far behind.
At the bottom of the elevator, we discovered a rooftop terrace about five stories up. Naturally, we caught the escalator to the top of it (we’re in Hong Kong, after all), and checked out the sights. It’s got a beautiful view of Kowloon, not to mention numerous statues that we probably weren’t supposed to climb on.
Moving right along, we had a race down the up escalator, hit up our favourite bar (7/11, or as the Gweilos like to call it, “Club Seven”), and grabbed a slice of Pizza. Our aimless wanderings had brought us to the Avenue of the Stars – the boardwalk with a view of the city-wide light show. Since it was Chinese New Year, there was a big stage set up for the parade, and since the group was feeling rebellious, Kelly and Alexis hopped the fence to go watch the rehearsal of the dancers. Lou and I weren’t so lucky, and were stopped by a security guard. Ten minutes later, we met back up, and after determining that there was no secret walking tunnel to the Hong Kong Island, we caught the red line.
Reading about it on my phone, I insisted on leading the group to a place called “Lawn At The Upper House”. Not knowing exactly where, or what it was, I lead the group on a wild-goose chase through several underground malls, parking structures, and walkways, before eventually reaching a lonely glass elevator in a clearly closed shopping centre. We pushed the button, and to our surprise, the doors opened. Speeding up through the roof, our elevator brought us above street level to a plaza, and the grand entrance to a hotel.
Approaching the hotel, we notice how terribly out of place we are, but confidence is a heck-of-a-disguise, and amidst the columns of fire, we introduce ourselves to the concierge, and inquired about “The Lawn”. In a posh accent, he informed us to take the escalators to the left. With a bit of luck, we emerge onto an outdoor terrance with comfy couches, beanbags, perfectly manicured hedges, twinkling christmas lights, soothing music, and a view of the skyline to die for. The best part about this place? There wasn’t a soul in sight. What we thought was a popular club, was simply an outdoor hotel bar that had closed for the night.
We stayed there for a long time, before someone in our group needed to find a washroom. In our fear of getting lost, we all went together. Mischievously though, I led the group into an elevator, and in a quick decision hit the button for the 49th floor. The doors close, and before any of us clue in, we’re committed to this.
The elevator doors slide open, and we discover that we’re not only on the 49th floor of a building on top of a mountain, but we’re actually in one of the fanciest hotels in the city. We quickly run into a side corridor, finding washrooms with terribly fantastic views of the city below.
A little more wandering, and we found a lounge for hotel guests, overlooking the city. Stopping for a quick backgammon break, a member of the hotel staff arrives, and is clearly unfamiliar with us. At this point, looking for anything I can to stay in our slice of paradise, I pick up the NASDAQ index – something I’m still completely unfamiliar with to this day, and pretend to read it while nodding. Smooth.
We eventually make it out of the hotel without being discovered, and decide to visit Wan Chai to meet up with some mates at a pub. The rest of the night was spent exploring different parts of the city, pedestrian walkways, and parking garages. We stayed out talking in a jungle-like park until about 6AM, before grabbing some breakfast, and catching the morning train home.
Sometimes the best nights are spent exploring with friends, talking about life, and being a kid again. This was definitely one of those, and one of my best nights at university in Hong Kong.