In 2012, while having our holiday in Macau, China, my husband and I decided to make a side trip to Kowloon, Hongkong.
Hongkong. Hongkong, officially known as Hongkong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China is described as ‘East meets West’ due to the mix culture of Chinese roots and with the influences of British when Hongkong was colonized in 1841. It consist of three territorial areas: the Hongkong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories. Kowloon Peninsula is an urban area and is a popular tourist destination in Hongkong.
Departure. From Macau, we took the first early morning ferry (7 A.M.) to Kowloon Peninsula of Hongkong via Turbo Jet arriving Kowloon at approximately one hour sailing time. Turbo Jet sails daily at 30 minutes interval from Macau to Kowloon and vice versa which departure starts at 7 A.M. and ends at 5.30 P.M. departure time and at night, departure time starts at 6 P.M. and ends at 11.30 P.M. making the last sailing schedule (5.30 P.M and 11.30 P.M.) an optional sailing time for them. The fare rate depends whether you are sailing on a weekday, weekend, or holiday and also depending on which class you prefer to take. We paid 153 HK$ (per person) from Macau to Kowloon, and coming back, we paid 164 HK$ (per person) both on economy class which is inclusive of Hongkong departure tax. The turbo jet was clean and spacious with tidy toilets. We had a fast, smooth and comfortable trip. The Turbo Jet disembarked at Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui (www.turbojet.com).
Arrival. I would like to think that it was a placid trip until we got to the immigration area. When we arrived in Kowloon, the immigration desks were clumped by hundreds of people anxiously wanting their stamped-visa to allow entry to Hongkong. The crowd was talking and murmuring in Chinese language which I have no hint what the discourse was all about. My husband and I were among the first one to take the queue but were the few last ones to get our visa stamped as we were trying to avoid the push. One Chinese woman was talking to me in a very fast Cantonese language (I am assuming) thinking I am a Chinese. I was nodding my head out of politeness and never got the chance to say that I do not speak her language. When she was done, it was already her queue as the next one in line. During this hoo-haa, I have witnessed the immigration officer raising his voice at another tourist! God knows what they were arguing about. I have not seen that many people rushing to get their visas, that and without a good visa processing system in place. It was a commotion!
After getting out of the chaotic immigration area, we proceeded to the information section hoping we can get a copy of a tourist map or get some information that we needed for our day trip. Unfortunately, no information was provided. When we asked why they do not provide, the woman over the counter simply waved her hand, a motion saying none, and shaking her head, meaning there is no map and none whatsoever information about Kowloon! I was left in total confusion and comforted myself thinking maybe she did not understand English or maybe we were not clear enough (but sure, we were). So we left in disappointment, went downstairs using the escalator then hailed a cab, hopped in and went straight to Jade Street.
Jade Market. Shopping for precious stones, Jade being one of them, is one of my fancies. When we decided to go to Kowloon, the top list on my itinerary is shopping at Jade Market. Why Jade? Jade, more than just a beauty of its own is associated with long life, meaning good health. A must lucky charm to bring home.
Jade Market at Jade Street is the biggest Jade market in Kowloon. It is situated at the junction of Kansu and Battery streets. It took us a while to find the place. When we found it, we were amazed by how massive the place was! There were hundreds of stalls selling authentic (maybe or maybe not) jade accessories such as rings, necklaces, pendants as well as other good finds for home decor. In here, we found variety of Jade from expensive to cheap adornments, all of various shades and quality.
When faced with all these various items, the question is, how do I know if the Jade is genuine or not? I did a few research and I have learned that only Jadeite Jade and Nephrite Jade are authentic Jade. The expensive Jadeite Jade usually comes from Burma, and 75% of the world’s Nephrite Jade is mined from British Columbia, Taiwan, U.S. and small amount in Australia. There are also other Jade materials which are considered Jade but neither Jadeite or Nephrite (www.wikipedia.org).
We asked around the market how to determine an authentic Jade before we decided to purchase. We were told: Jade varies in color, the top quality is pure green and the best one is translucent, and it feels cold and smooth when you touch it with your hands. One woman showed us by holding the Jade into the bright light and for us to see small granules intertwine inside as one of the signs of its authenticity. It was quite tricky to do these tests unless you are buying it in stores (Grade A) which provides certificate of authenticity. I have also learned that there are different categories of Jade: Type A- unnatural; B- chemically bleached to remove impurities; and Type C – chemically bleached to enhance color. But whatever the Jade category is, it is nonetheless real Jade.
We ended our Jade Market visit with me buying few good pieces of pendants, and loose Jades – ready to be made as earrings, and bought Green and Orangy colors (Burma Jade). We also bought for other members of our family as gifts. It was indeed a fancy Jade shopping day!
Shopping Districts. There are three main shopping areas in Kowloon: Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok. After our Jade Market advent, we started walking around Tsim Sha Tsui areas (Harbour City, Canton Road, Nathan Road) to Yu Ma Tei. The Harbour City is located on the western part of Tsim Sha Tsui which consists of hundreds of shops while Canton Road starts from the southern part of Kowloon and goes to the north part (Harbour City, Kowloon Park till Jade Street). The streets along these areas are filled with shops selling designer clothes (Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc.), fashion accessories, jewelry and watches (Rolex, Omega, etc.), and precious stones while Nathan road (main thoroughfare and oldest road) which starts from Salisbury Road to the south part are filled with shops selling mostly Chinese goods. Nothing fancies me (budget wise) while strolling along these streets. There was an Indian guy following us and asking if we want to have our suit done which we politely dismissed. By the end of our strolling day, I ended up buying a few lace lingerie at Marks and Spencers which were on sale. It was shopping filled day full of fun and adventures!
How to Reach Hongkong via Macau. See Departure topic on top.
Visa. For Filipino citizens, there is no visa requirement to enter Hongkong, only Visa On Arrival (VOA). This too works for my husband as a Canadian citizen. The visa individually issued for both of us was free of charge. I was given a 14 day visit while my husband was given 90 days.