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10 Must-Do’s If You’re Visiting Hong Kong For The First Time

10 Must-Do’s If You’re Visiting Hong Kong For The First Time

As one of the most vibrant and bustling cities in the world, Hong Kong’s east-meets-west allure beckons travellers from all around the globe. However, with so much to see and do in this fast-paced, dynamic cosmopolis, it can be overwhelming for the first-time visitor.

To make your life a little easier, here are the 10 absolute must-do’s to tick off on your first trip to the “Pearl of the Orient.” Planning your travel itinerary has never been easier.

Marvel at Hong Kong’s Breathtaking Views from Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak is one of Hong Kong’s most iconic landmarks, providing the best vantage point for panoramic views of the city’s towering skyline. Take the Peak Tram up to the Peak Tower and aim to arrive half an hour before sundown to watch the city lights come alive in all their multi-hued glory.

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Hong Kong Panorama View from The Peak

    Eat Dim Sum at the World’s Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant

    No trip to Hong Kong is complete until you’ve tried dim sum. Make a beeline for Tim Ho Wan, the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant, for delicious morsels of authentic Cantonese snacks like siu mai (pork and prawn dumplings) and har gau (prawn dumplings). The much-lauded baked barbeque pork buns are also a must-order.

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      Battle the Adrenaline-Pumping Rides at Ocean Park

      Save Disneyland for the kids and spend your day at Ocean Park instead, a marine-life theme park designed for adults that’s located on the southern end of Hong Kong Island. With no shortage of animal exhibits, exciting attractions, and thrilling rollercoasters, adrenaline junkies can expect a full day’s worth of blood-pumping fun.

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        Shop Til You Drop

        From bustling street markets and trendy boutiques to some of the most upscale multi-story shopping malls, Hong Kong is a shopper’s paradise. Head to Causeway Bay to shop at landmark areas like Time Square Mall and Sogo. Then check out Tsim Sha Tsui, an area in Kowloon that’s home to some of Hong Kong’s best luxury shopping, including the grand Harbour City Mall. Schedule rest breaks in between — you’ll need them!

         

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          Enjoy High Tea at The Peninsula Hotel

          One of the lingering legacies of British occupation in Hong Kong is the widespread popularity of high tea. Indulge in the quintessential high tea experience at The Peninsula, Hong Kong’s oldest hotel. Help yourself to an assortment of delicious sandwiches, cakes, scones, and pastries from the three-tier stands and enjoy music from the string-quartet. No reservations are permitted, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

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          The Peninsula Hong Kong

            Take the Star Ferry for the Symphony of Lights Show

            Witness dazzling views of Victoria Harbour with the classic Star Ferry ride from Central to Kowloon. Hop on the boat just before 8 PM to catch the nightly Symphony of Lights show and see the city’s skyscrapers come to life. Picture a sensational multimedia bonanza of coloured lights and laser beams synchronised to music and narration. For a nominal ferry ride ticket fee (the show itself is free), this is one performance that can’t be missed.

            Hong Kong skyline at night

              Haggle and Score a Bargain at the Street Markets

              For a unique shopping experience, venture out to Hong Kong’s lively street markets, where you can find and buy almost anything and everything. Temple Street Market is a popular favourite for cheap clothes, watches, and everyday items. Ladies’ Market, home to over 100 stalls selling clothing and accessories, is also a must-visit. Don’t be shy about haggling to negotiate a bargain — it’s all part of the experience.

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                Party It Up at Lan Kwai Fong

                In Hong Kong, the mentality “work hard and play hard” is widely recognized and adopted. There’s no better place to do the latter than at Lan Kwai Fong, the city’s most vibrant nightlife district and where you’ll find the trendiest night spots. Home to over 100 restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops, Lan Kwai Fong is popular among locals and expats worldwide.

                young asian friends couples enjoying party in pub.

                  See The Big Buddha on Lantau Island

                  Take a day trip out to Lantau Island to see its biggest drawcard — The Big Buddha. Go via the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, which shuttles you from the town of Tung Chung to the mountaintop Buddha, a 25-minute journey with sweeping views of the bay and mountain peaks. Sitting at 34 meters high, climb the 268 steps leading to the stature to marvel at the massive bronze Buddha up close and personal.

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                    Maximize Your Time or Stopover at Hong Kong Airport

                    Considered one of the best airports in the world and the gateway to Asia, Hong Kong airport is a destination in itself in terms of all that it has to offer. From miniature gardens to an IMAX Theatre, Aviation Discover Centre, and sports simulators such as soccer, basketball, car racing and golf, any time spent at the airport will fly by in a flash. If you’re travelling business or first class with Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific, arrive a little earlier to enjoy exclusive access to their premium lounges. 24-hour shopping and dining is also available at the airport — what more could you ask for?

                    Hong Kong, China - September 26, 2013: Inside view of Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1 (HKG) in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok is the second busiest airport in China with 56.1 million passengers in 2012.

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                      Last Updated on June 18, 2018

                      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                      Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

                      Video Summary

                      Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

                      Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

                      Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

                      Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

                      This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

                      Sitting Is the New Smoking

                      Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

                      The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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                      Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

                        Sit Properly

                        If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

                        Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

                          Credit: StayWow

                          Stand Up More

                          Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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                          Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

                          Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

                          Or get a standing desk.

                          One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

                          Exercise for Lower Back Pain

                          Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

                          But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

                          The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

                          Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

                          Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

                          This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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                          Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

                          Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

                          There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

                          Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

                          I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

                          Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

                          If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

                          Where to Start

                          The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

                          Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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                          If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

                          Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

                          Keep a straight back.

                          Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

                          Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

                          I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

                          If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

                          Stay Away From the Back Pain League

                          Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

                          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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