This past weekend was packed with fun activities. Dream Careers did a fabulous job putting together two events: a day on Cheung Chau Island and a Horse Racing Tour at the Sha Tin Racecourse.
Cheung Chau Island
Cheung Chau is a small island southwest of Hong Kong Island. It is about a 30minute ferry ride to the small fishing boat village. (The ferry ride reminded me of going to Mackinaw Island, MI. It made me miss home a little bit.) I sat on the upper floor of the ferryboat so I could take in the view better. 263 islands make up the composition of Hong Kong so looking out the windows of the ferry were some amazing views!
We arrived on the island around noon. As soon as I got off the boat my senses were overwhelmed with sights and smells. The roads are very narrow so normal motor traffic is impossible. Instead, there are small-motorized trucks officially termed “village vehicles” (pretty much smart cars). The main mode of transportation on the island is bicycle. (Which again reminded me of Mackinaw Island. There weren’t any horses though.) As we walked to lunch we passed many local vendors selling their daily catch and other foods. It was a very hot afternoon, which only increased the smell of the salty fish. It wasn’t the most pleasant smell. After a short walk we arrived at the Warwick Hotel to eat our dim sum lunch. (Dim sum is a style of Cantonese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates.) It was a great meal that included a beautiful view of the beach that we would later enjoy.
Once we finished lunch a group of us decided to explore a cave on the island. We took a ten-minute boat ride to get to the cave quickly. It would have taken us about 45minutes to walk there. It was a really cool boat ride because we saw the island from a different perspective. Once we got off the ferry we followed the signs to Cheung Po Tsai Cave. The cave is named after the 19th-century Chinese pirate because it was the place where he stored his prizes. (Fun fact: The movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End depicts a pirate names Sao Feng as a member of the Brethren Court. This character is based on Cheung Po Tsai, although the film is set many years before he lived.) The cave entrance was extremely small and many of us were uncertain about climbing into it. After a few minutes of pep talking each other we summed up the courage to go in. Most of us immediately turned on our flashlight app on our iPhones so we could maneuver through the dark small cave. We had no idea how long the cave was but it turned out to be a quick little hike to the exit. Once we climbed out of the cave massive boulders and the ocean surrounded us. It was a beautiful location for photographs.
After exploring the cave we decided to relax on the beach. Nearly all beaches are maintained by the Chinese government and are protected by shark netting. The beech wasn’t very crowded which made it easy to find a spot to lay our stuff out. We quickly jumped in the water because we were a bit sweaty from our hike in the cave. The water was refreshing. Unfortunately, within a few minutes of swimming I cut the bottom of my foot on a small sharp rock. At first I didn’t know it had happened but then the salt water started to irritate it. One of my friends Andrew made the comment that I better not attract any sharks. That freaked me out a little even if he wasn’t being completely serious. So I got out of the water and asked a friend to get a band aide for me from one of the lifeguards. Fortunately the cut wasn’t bad and I was able to clean it and enjoy the rest of the afternoon lying out on the beach.
Sunday morning was another event sponsored by Dream Careers: horse racing at Sha Tin Racecourse! Horse racing is actually Hong Kong’s favorite sport. It has been popular in Hong Kong since the city because a British colony in 1842. Hong Kong boasts more punters per capita and the highest racing turnover in the world! The racing season starts in September and runs to July. Once we arrived at the racecourse we were shown to our VIP box and told to help ourselves to the buffet. We were all dressed in our Sunday best and felt like royalty sitting in one of the VIP boxes. We had a balcony outside of our air-conditioned box so we could overlook the stadium and see the horse races better.
As many of you may know horses are by far my favorite animal so being at a horse racing event all day was really special. Later in the afternoon we were able to walk down to the track and see the races up close. It was amazing! I could really see the locals’ passion for racing as they all cheered for their horses to win each race.
I am not much of a gambler at all but we were all given a 30 HKD voucher to place a couple bets. The first bet I made didn’t make me a profit but the second time I won 28.50 HKD! It was an amazing feeling to win. I could see immediately how people get easily addicting to gambling.