My HK Travels And Places I Visited – A Well Deserved Break Away From Work And GIA’s Diploma Course

This is Part 4; the final installment of my Hong Kong travels and GIA’s on-campus diamond grading course.

As the saying goes “All work and no play makes Paul a dull boy”. A trip to Hong Kong isn’t complete without visiting the attractions it had to offer. Here are the highlights of the places I had been during my stay.

electric tram ding-ding

Getting around the city center in electric trams is easy and convenient.

Without fail, almost every tourist to Hong Kong will undertake a day trip to Lantau Island to explore some of the famous landmarks there. Interestingly, the world’s longest cable car ride is also located there at Lantau Island, Ngong Ping. From the base station, the length of the cable car ride is an astounding 5km ride towards the peak of the mountain. 

world's longest cable car ride

The summit is one of the most visited destinations where you can take a tour of the mountains and view the Tian Tan Buddha statue that overlooks the entire island of Lantau. This huge monument also happens to be the world’s largest statue of a seated Buddha, measuring at a height of more than 30 meters and made entirely of cast iron.

lining up to offer prayers

People queuing up and taking turns to pay respects to the giant Buddha.

lantau island seated buddha statue

Anyone wants to give him a high 5?

wisdom path hk

A short hike to visit the pillars of wisdom near Ngong Ping Village. Maybe that’s why I aced my grading class.

po lin monastary

Po Lin monastery – beautiful wall carvings and colorful garden.


From Ngong Ping, I took a 15 minutes bus ride towards a rustic fishing village called Tai O. This laid back fishing town has traditional houses on slits, old alleys and boat tours for you to explore. Unlike the rest of Hong Kong, the pace of life here is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city, making it a nice place to chill out and unwind.

dried sharks tai-o

Popular delicacies eaten by the Chinese include shark fin.

tai o fishing village

A peaceful and tranquil sight for city dwellers

olden doors with blessings

Inside one of the alleys at Tai O


Besides Lantau Island, there are sights and destinations that tourists could head to on the main Hong Kong island.

the grand aquarium ocean park

sharks in underwater tunnel

The underwater tunnel in Ocean Park where visitors get to watch sharks swim overhead is a treat.

laser light show avenue of the stars

The daily laser light show performance with music at the Symphony of Lights.

For the duration of the trip, I stayed at my brother’s apartment which is located near the financial hub. Interestingly, at almost every turn of the streets from Sheung Wan to Central, you will find a jewelry store.

In fact, jewelry stores in Hong Kong’s Central are akin to Starbucks in New York City. They are so saturated that you can almost find one at every corner of the city centre. And as a reminder, prices are very steep and the selection of goods is mediocre.

If you intend to shop for diamond jewelry, I would recommend these vendors instead.

streets of mongkok

It’s crowded and busy in the streets of Mongkok after dusk.

I also had the opportunity to visit a local turf club on a weekday evening after classes. Now, I know what you are thinking. Most people usually associate gambling and sleaziness with the horse racing clubs. Well, I’m guilty of that stereotyping as well.

horse racing turf club happy valley

But as it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised by how modernized the Happy Valley turf club is. Instead of a smoky and unhygienic place I had imagined from old Chinese movies, the turf club had a welcoming carnival-like atmosphere. I’m also surprised that this is the place where many expatriates gather to meet up and chill.

Overall, the trip was really enjoyable. Not only did I make new friends in the jewelry trade, I was able to gain a deeper understanding on the emerging Chinese market. The only regret I had was that I couldn’t attend the international diamond trade show which took place a few days later due to personal commitments.

This was my first time in Hong Kong and the experience was a memorable one indeed. That said, I see myself back in Hong Kong in the foreseeable future and who knows, you might just catch me there at next year’s jewelry show.

And Could You Guess What I Ended Up Buying?

My most expensive purchase of the trip is this little plastic stone holder which is used as an attachment for the standard microscopes or as a stand-alone device for holding diamonds.

stone holder attachment

Could you make a wild guess how much this little piece of plastic costs? It costs a whopping US$100! These little gadgets used for gemology purposes don’t come cheap. Nevertheless, I went ahead to purchase it as I see it as an investment for the website. With this stone holder, I am planning a series of videos that feature close-up views of diamonds under high magnification.

holder with oval diamond close up

If you are interested to view these videos, simply sign up for our mailing list. You will be the first to be notified when we upload new content to our website and to our YouTube channel.

Before I sign off, if you are interested in taking a diamond grading course and want to know more about what to expect, feel free to get in touch with me or leave a comment below.

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4 Comments

  1. alice-
    January 5, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    hi paul, i came across your article as i was interested in how diamonds in hk compare to the rest of the world and i loved your article! it was extremely informative :)

    i saw that you recommend purchasing diamonds online, what are your thoughts on bluenile?

  2. Paul Gian-
    January 9, 2017 at 7:23 am

    BlueNile is reliable and a decent vendor. Stick with their signature diamonds or those listings that provide videos/images.

    https://beyond4cs.com/reviews/blue-nile/signature-diamond/

  3. Bhaskar-
    December 11, 2018 at 4:13 am

    I am considering taking a graduate diamond course out of interest. No background in diamond industry.

    Do you think it is a enjoyable course. Have you been able to apply your knowledge gained through this course ?

  4. Paul Gian-
    December 11, 2018 at 4:58 am

    It’s a little different for me. Before attending the course, I’ve already learnt and thought myself basically everything that was taught in the course. The only difference that books can’t teach and the course offers is the practical examination and physical handling of the diamonds. Even so, that is a trait and skill you can learn if you ever worked in a jewelry store. If you have no background in the industry, then this course should open some doors and even give you the chance to network with fellow classmates in the industry.

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