Hong Kong is one of Asia’s great metropolises, with its towering finance buildings, bright lights, and swanky hotels. It represents fast-paced living, a busy lifestyle, and bustling energy.
However, just a few kilometers out of the main Victoria Harbour cityscape, still within the city limits, lies a beachy paradise called Stanley. I’d been to Hong Kong once before but had completely missed this peaceful haven, and am eternally grateful that on this journey I took the road to Stanley.
How can an intrepid voyager reach Stanley? Well, it’s just a bus ride away. At the bus terminus located under the IFC Mall, you can take a 6 or 6X bus to Stanley. It’s one of the last stops, but don’t stay on too long—the stop directly after it is the Stanley prison. I’ve been on many a bus ride in my life, but this was one of the most fantastic I’ve ever taken. Read on after the jump for my experience....
The bus passes through most of the Hong Kong side of the city. After driving through a dark tunnel, the bus winds through the island’s famous lush greenery. Tropical foliage surrounds the vehicle, and the hills of the island rise and fall steeply. All of a sudden the Pacific Ocean appears out the right-side window. Dotted with tiny islands and rock formations, the surf is calm and blue, a complete change from the hustle and bustle of central Hong Kong.
Driving along the coast, the bus passes Repulse Bay, which is anything but repulsive. Top-of-the-line architecture lines the seaside. At the end of November, the balmy temperatures and lazy sunbathers seem surreal.
The rest of the voyage passes along in a blur of glistening seas, blue skies, and sandy shores as the roads wind southwards, until the bus comes to a stop at Stanley Main.
I took the elevator down from the bus stop to the main part of Stanley. The first thing that caught my eye was the gorgeous ocean, decorated with a few small sailboats and luxurious yachts. The second were the cafes that bordered said ocean, all with alfresco dining and steep prices.
Stanley is known for its market, which is located mere meters from the beach. My travel friends and I explored the stalls there, which sold cute kitschy trinkets and souvenirs such as the Mao t-shirts and silk robes found in most major Chinese cities. However, the market did house a nice, well-stocked bookstore brimming with both English and Chinese-language books.
After exhausting the shopping options, we strolled in Stanley's public park, an eco-friendly endeavor complete with recycled-bottle pathways. The park featured a hilltop plateau that had stunning views of the ocean and surrounding beaches. There was also a tiny temple adjacent to the park, also with sweeping views of the seaside.
Finally, we sat down at one of the alfresco cafes for appetizers and drinks. We could see the sun setting slowly over the water, and the balmy breeze was only the tiniest bit cool. It was the perfect ending to a lovely Hong Kong afternoon.
As we headed back to the main part of the city on the bus, we could see the surf twinkling in the dark as it crashed on the moonlit beaches. Many roads diverge in Hong Kong. We took the one less traveled by, and that did make all the difference.