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Day 8: [rain] Hong Kong Science Museum, Hong Kong Museum of History.

The first rainy day caught me a little off-guard. I mean, I did expect it since I checked the forecast, but I was not emotionally ready for it. So after the full week of straight sun, I got a reality check, and spent the first half of the day in my bed because I didn’t feel like going anywhere.

However, it was still my vacation, and I the realization that I should be more productive helped me to leave my room closer to 2 pm.

Both museums are located on the Kowloon side, and they are just beside one another; so if you plan on visiting both, it makes sense to visit them the same day. Keep in mind that the Science Museum is usually open later than the History one.

Hong Kong Science Museum (5/5).

top view 2I have decided to start with the Science Museum (which is quite similar to our Science World), because it seemed more exciting. At that time, they’ve had a special exhibition, Strange Matter, which costed HKD$2.0 (CAD$0.34) to visit, so I went for it. Strange Matter is an exhibition of synthesized materials and their use in modern applications. In addition to seeing growing silicon crystals and multiple attempts to brake a tempered glass with a cannon ball, I finally got to look at ferro liquid in real life!

Besides the Strange Matter, there are a few physical and digital biology and anatomy exhibits, renewable and non-renewable energy, broadcasting systems, and a number of others that were not that memorable to me.

Lamma winds top view 2

I have been far too modest with the time estimation, thinking that an hour in each museum would be enough; but the visit to the Science Museum took a lot longer, and I got the the Museum of History at around 5.30; which left me with only 1.5 hours to see it all.

Hong Kong Museum of History (5/5).

The History Museum is located over two floors, and has 4 rooms.

The rooms showed Hong Kong in the historic timeline; where the first room showed the ecosystems of Hong Kong, before and during the first settlers, and the last room had the most recent items.

There isn’t much I can tell you about the museum, besides the fact that it is very informative and worthy a visit if you like history.

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Bonus picture of night Hong Kong

A bonus picture of night Hong Kong

Day 7: Discovery Bay to Mui Wo.

Initially I have planned to do some island hopping, and selected the following route: Peng Chau to Discovery Bay, then hike to Mui Wo and take a ferry to Cheung Chau; and I downloaded the ferry schedules, and planned my trip almost by minutes; but forgot to check what by the first ferry leaves from. However, the ferry to Discovery Bay was leaving within a matter of minutes, and I got on it. This ferry was by far the most comfortable and had free Wi-Fi access. After a 30 minute ride I was at the destination. The weather did not look very promising – there were thick clouds, and no signs of approaching sunshine. I caught myself thinking a couple times, that I couldn’t have picked a better day for a hike: it was still nice and warm, and there was no sun, that I was hoping to avoid since I got a little sun-burnt the day before.

Discovery Bay looked like a typical touristy village with fancy hotels and cafés, so I bought a bottle of water, and went on my way.

The road took me through a series of small beaches, a village, a Christian monastery, some very nice viewpoints, and it took a little over 1.5 hours. I was looking for a cafe that had a menu in English, had an amazing $5 meal, and, since it looked like it might start raining soon, I decided to take a return ferry to the city.

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Day 6: Shek-O Beach, Big Wave Beach + ancient rock carvings, Stanley.

Instead of alternating, I have decided to have myself a beach day, especially since the weather was so nice. My original plan was to go to Big Wave Beach to check out the rock carvings, that were discovered in 1970 by a police officer who was patrolling the area, then walk to Shek-O, check out The Rock, which is quite popular among rock-climbers, take a bus to Stanley, and then walk to Repulse Bay.

I got to the Shau Jei Wan MTR station, and took  a bus to Shek-O.

Shek-O beach (5/5,:a must visit).

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Shek-O is the best beach I have been on during my visit to Hong Kong. Despite its relatively small size (about 100 meters long), it has everything a descent beach needs: sandy beach, where the sand is amazingly clean and soft; rec area for games; changing areas and showers; and a terrace with some cafes and bars. There also is a large secluded rock island with several BBQ spots and some vieweing terraces. To get to Shek-O, you need to take bus number 9 from _ MTR station, or a mini bus from the same station. The bus rie takes approximately 40 minutes, while the mini bus ride is a tad bit shorter.

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Big Wave Beach (3/5: check it out, if you have extra time).

Getting to the Big Wave Beach is a little trickier. Every other bus number 9 will go on an etended route, and will get you there after passing through Shek-O; or you can just walk there (that’s what I did): although, beware, the walkway is almost non-existent, and most of the time I had to walk in the opposite direction of moving vehicles.

Big Wave is not really a swiming beach – most people are there for surfing; and surfing boards are available for rent. Having been on a tight schedule time-wise, I skipped surfing, and went to see the rock carvings; which were randomly discovered relatively recently (in 1980-s) by a  patrolling police officer. The carvings are separated from the visitors by the metal fence; and in light of day are pretty difficult to see. If seeing them is not a priority for you, I recommend sparing the visit to the Big Wave altogether towards spending more time at Shek-O or Stanley.

Stanley (5/5: a must visit).

Stanley

Stanley originated to be a small fishing village, which became a pretty important point after the British invasion. It was named after Lord Stanley, who was the British Colonial Secretary at the time of the British annexation of Hong Kong. Nowadays, the cost of accomodation is Stanley costs about CAD$2,500,000 for a modest 700 sq. ft. apartment, so not a lot of people can afford to live there.

There are 3 smaller beaches and 1 larger one, where you can relax in the sun, swim, or rent a boat. There also is a small public market (bargaining is acceptable), and a lot of bars and restaurants for all tastes. I was there twice, once onmy own, and later with my parents as a part of our Big Bus tour. If you like pizza, I highly recommend stopping at Paisano’s, where they serve genuine New-York style pizza with humongous slices costing HKD$30-50 (~CAD$5-7).

If you are not in a hurry, get to see the Ma Hang and Chung Hom Kok Parks, which are within 5 minutes away from the min area of the village. Within the park, there is an old Tin Hau Temple (Tin Hau appeared to be The Sea Goddess).

By the time I finished seeing around Stanley, it was already dark, so I had to skip the visit to Repulse Bay,and take the bus home.

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A word of advice to other bloggers

The past week has been very informative. I have learned a few things about proper website management, and I will share them with you in just a moment.

A little foreword:

I have started SimpleVancouver.com in November 2012 with a simple idea: to document the process of being a student that is trying to settle in Vancouver. I had very little HTML-coding knowledge, and 0 website management experience. The most I have done prior is terrible-looking website with a template at Narod.ru back in 2004 or so.

Since then (well, more since Nov. 2012 than earlier) I have learned a few things, which I wish I have known earlier and which would help me avoid the problem and the result of the problem that I was having.


So, if you are starting your own WordPress-based site, make sure to note the following:


1. Do NOT name the admin user “admin”. Chose a name that is not your name, and not anything related to the website (basically, anything that is not easy to guess). Much better if the name is a mix of letters and numbers, and that it does not make any sense (e.g. 123ihazalotofdough99butimsingel6969).

This will decrease the chance of a password-guessing program gaining access to your site.

2. Use a strong password, that is not a real word or a combination of words, and that includes 24 or more characters. I now use http://passwordsgenerator.net/. A 24-character password will take an eternity to generate.

You should change your password every other month or so, and use a different password for everything. This way if one of them is somehow compromised, the rest stays safe. Try to make each password different and hard to guess.

3. Back it up! You need two backups. Keep at least one recent backup of all files, and at least one recent backup of the database. Files – in case they go missing (like they did for me), and database – this way you would not have to go and point each image to the post individually.

There are Wordpress plugins that make it a lot easier. I have installed WP Complete Backup, (haven’t had a chance to use it yet). I have also downloaded a 1.2 GB copy of the entire database from my Cpanel to store locally (including, but not limited to SimpleVancouver files).

4. Do not display Login or Registration links on the website, unless you know 100% what you are doing. This is what messed me up: bots have created 15,000 subscriber accounts, eating tonnes of traffic, and slowing down the website for legitimate users. God knows what they used these accounts for, but I decided to delete all of them.

For commenting, people can use guest accounts, their WordPress accounts; or you can set comments up through a third party widget, such as Disqus.

5. Use proper plugins:

Akismet plugin to protect yourself against spam.

Block Bad Queries (BBQ) plugin to protect you against malicious requests.

Cartpauj Register Captcha to prevent spam registrations.

Limit Login Attempts to slow down password-guessing (for both programs and humans).

Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Hardening for better security. This plugin recommends necessary security changes based on what it knows about my site, notifies me each time a wrong login is initiated, a change is made to the post, and what IP address asked for what on my site.

Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) just because I am paranoid, and want to ensure that the problems are not coming from within.

6. Protect your WP_admin area.

AskApachePassword is an awesome plugin. It creates an additional level of security, asking for a password before it even lets you in to the login page; so if you have a password that takes an eternity to guess, with using the AskApache it will take two.


 

Also, here is a really good article to help you with adding another layer of security to your website.

Day 5: Ngong Ping – Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery

DSCN0307On the fifth day I have decided to visit the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery via Ngong Ping 360 AKA Tung Chung Cable Car.

The cable car entrance is located within a ~30 minute train ride from the city, at the terminus station of Tung Chung line. The cost of the gondola ride if HKD$165 or $255 for the Crystal Cabin (with the glass floor). The park is located on the Lantau Island, the island that also houses the airport.

To get to the mountain, where the Buddha and the park is located, you need to take the cable ride, which is approximately 20 minutes long (not including the lineup, which can be avoided if you pre-book the tickets. On the way to the Buddha, you walk through the park, which in addition to the oriental design buildings has an exhibition of cable cars from round the world (but nothing from Canada).

DSCN0336The Buddha is about 34 meters tall, and took 12 years to complete. He sits atop of the 268-step stairs, which is an easy walk if you are fit enough. The view from the top of the hill is breathtaking! Make sure to pack your camera, and have it charged.

After the visit to the Buddha, I have checked out the Temple, which has an adjacent vegetarian restaurant. Mind you, the photography inside the temple is prohibited. At this point I could either go back, or keep exploring. I have decided to see the Wisdom Path, which features 24 wooden carvings, which have the Words Of Wisdom written on each, and if you go in the right direction, you are meant to understand the meaning of the living a little deeper. Of course, not being able to read them, I left as ignorant as I came.

There is an elaborate set of trails that go around the island varying in lengths, ranging from just a few minutes to several hours. The entire visit to the island took a little over 5 hours; and by the time I got home I only had enough energy to go for a dinner at a diner in the Tsim Sha Tsui; and after a brief stroll around the seawall, I went back to the hotel to sleep.

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