Ahhh, my four day weekend is coming to an end. We were doggie-sitting so we spent a lot of time relaxing at home and having friends over for an early Memorial day potluck of Korean food (I guess we’re going through Korea withdrawal even months later). Today we went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, which was a fun movie but didn’t quite capture me the way the Avengers movies have. I’m not quite sure what it is because I love so many of the actors — Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, etc — but I’m just not obsessing or fan-girling about the series. Still recommend it for a fun way to spend a couple of hours. 🙂
Back to my trip report! Just two more installments, I think…
Before our time in Seoul, Rob & I first stopped over at Hong Kong. I visited way back when with my dad (must have been 20+ years ago, wow) but have wanted to see it again as an adult. Not to mention that Hong Kong Disneyland was calling my name. 😉
Compared to other major Asian cities I’ve visited (Tokyo, Bangkok, Seoul), it is a BREEZE to get around Hong Kong. As a former British colony, most people speak English. I know that unfamiliar situations are par for the course for traveling but when there’s no language barrier, it makes everything so much easier. For us, anyway.
We spent 3 full days in Hong Kong splitting time equally between the city and Disney. It definitely wasn’t enough time for the city but hopefully we’ll make a pit stop there again the next time we visit Asia.
Our adventure started SUPER early on Wednesday morning, 2/12. We had a 7am flight so we stayed at a hotel near LAX and took the shuttle to the airport. We arrived just after 4am and found that the Air Canada terminal wasn’t even open. Apparently there was a power outage the night before so all the systems were taking awhile to get back online. OMG!!! All I wanted to do was check-in our bags and get coffee. ARGH. I am SO not a morning person. We ended up being third in line which was great because the line got long really quickly because of the delay.
Our flights were uneventful (we had a short layover in Vancouver – made me wish we had a few days there) but man, the legroom on Air Canada is tight. That says a lot since I’m so short! Once we arrived at Hong Kong airport, we flew through immigration and customs, hopped in a taxi and made our way to Kowloon.
We stayed at the Sheraton Hong Kong in the Tsim Sha Tsui district and when we were checking in, I was informed that I apparently booked a smoking room. WTF. OOPS. The front desk clerk took pity on me (I was so tired by this time) and managed to change our room to non-smoking and upgraded us to a harbour view room. AWESOME.
This was our view of the harbour! We got up to our room right before 8pm so we were able to see the beginning of the Symphony of Lights, a nightly multimedia show on the water. Our vantage point wasn’t the best so I couldn’t see much and obviously couldn’t hear anything. Sadly we never got the chance to see it live along the waterfront.
We wanted to eat before knocking out so we walked down the main street, Nathan Road, and happened upon the iSquare mall which had a food court. We ended up at a modern Shanghainese restaurant Shanghai Popo where we ordered Shanghai fried noodles (OMG YUM) and beef with pine nuts and rice cake (WOW). The food totally hit the spot.
The next day was Valentine’s Day and I woke up at about 7:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep. At least I was free and clear of jet lag!
First order of business was to go to Tim Ho Wan — a dim sum chain known for its Michelin star (not the branch we were going to though). Aziz Ansari ate here on his episode of The Layover and we’ve been wanting to try it ever since! The location we visited is at Hong Kong station but it was SO hard to find (the station is enormous). When we ended up finding it, we realized it was so close to where we exited the fare gates after getting off the train. Of course.
The herd of people outside was the giveaway. We got there early (maybe around 11am?) so we only waited about 10 minutes. Seating is mostly communal and we got two seats in the middle of a long table. It was a tight fit, lol.
We ordered their signature dish, the baked pork buns. They were AMAZING. Sweet and savory. Just fantastic, OMG. The other dishes we tried — shrimp dumplings, noodle rolls, siu mai — were all solid as well.
From Hong Kong station we took the subway to Causeway Bay in search of the Toys R Us. Rob was on a mission to find toys (Asia by far has superior toys for collectors)! On our way there, we randomly saw a Toys R Us employee handing out flyers on the sidewalk and he showed us the way.
To head back towards Central, the downtown business district, we took the quintessential Hong Kong transportation – the ding ding tram. It’s a great way to get around Hong Kong Island (albeit slowly) and so cheap too! Only $2.30 HKD which is about $0.30 USD.
We managed to find seats at the top of the tram right at the front window. Perfect for taking photos and looking at the streetscape. So awesome.
The view as we got closer to Central. We were heading to Victoria Peak next! We got off the ding ding tram at Cotton Tree Drive to begin the uphill trek up to the Peak Terminus. The line to buy tickets wasn’t too bad considering it was mid-day but the line to board the tram was a different story. All in all we waited about an hour. I had been forewarned about line cutting, people pushing, etc. Sadly, those stories are true — I know it’s a cultural thing but it drove me crazy. I can’t imagine what the crowds would be like during high season.
When we got to the Peak, we walked around admiring the view and taking photos. It wasn’t a clear day but luckily it wasn’t too overcast. So lovely!
Other than the view there are basically two malls at the Peak. The sheer amount of malls in Hong Kong is crazy. AND they’re all crowded. It’s incredible.
Late lunch was at Mak’s Noodle (again with a Michelin star at a different branch) at the Peak Galleria. They’re known for their wonton noodle soup. The noodles were perfectly spring-y and the wonton dumplings plump and juicy. GUH. I just loved the cheap eats in Hong Kong.
For dessert I grabbed an egg tart from Tai Cheong Bakery. The crust was a bit too sweet for me (they seem to use a different type of dough than I’m used to) but the filling was perfect.
With our peak tram tickets, we also bought the Sky Pass which gave us access to the Sky Terrace – the highest viewing point at the Peak. It wasn’t too different from the other vantage points but still nice to see nonetheless. Above is the view towards Lantau Island (where Disneyland is located). It was pretty much obscured due to the fog.
The view towards Kowloon was much better.
And here’s a shot looking east towards Causeway Bay. I wish we had arrived just a tiny bit later so we could stay until the sun set and watch as the city lights turn on. We didn’t want to wait around killing time so we made our way back down on the Peak tram.
I wanted to experience the Star Ferry (passenger ferry service running back and forth to and from Hong Kong island and Kowloon) so that’s what we took back to Tsim Sha Tsui.
The water was a little choppy but at least it was a short ride. Totally worth it for the view. This is looking back at Hong Kong Island.
The view again! This time from the ferry landing area back at Tsim Sha Tsui. So gorgeous.
Had to throw in this random pic of the entrance to the Harbour City mall. The pathway was lined with so many lanterns – pretty!
After resting our feet at the hotel, we wanted a casual dinner so we opted for a cha teng — otherwise known as a Hong Kong comfort food diner. One of the more popular ones is Australia Dairy Company, which is located just one subway stop away in Jordan.
There wasn’t a long line at all (probably because it was pretty late not to mention Valentine’s Day). We only waited a few minutes and were quickly seated. They put us behind a pillar so I think because we weren’t easily visible we weren’t hassled too much by the super efficient waiters, lol.
We ordered the lunch and tea time sets which came with buttered toast, scrambled eggs, and a drink. Mine also had the macaroni soup. I know it doesn’t look like much at all but WOW. The buttered toast and scrambled eggs were super amazing. Light and fluffy. I could have eaten so many more pieces. The soup was good too but seriously, the toast and eggs are the stars here. I think we spent just over $10 USD on our dinner. Not bad at all for Valentine’s Day! 🙂
The next day we were on a mission to have lunch at Din Tai Fung, a popular restaurant specializing in xiao long bao (soup dumplings). We visited the Sydney location back in 2009 and we have fond memories of the food. I know there’s a location in southern CA but I’ve heard that the wait times are obscenely long. Anyway, we woke up early to get there at opening (11:30). We walked along Canton Road, also known as the luxury brand street (Chanel, Prada, Dior, Marc Jacobs — all are found here and more). We were fifth in line, woohoo!
We ordered a couple different xiao long baos (of course), fried pork chop with rice, and spinach with garlic (so simple, fresh and good).
Everything was fantastic. Mmmmm.
After lunch we walked over along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to the Avenue of Stars. It was pretty overcast but there was still a lovely view of Hong Kong Island. The Avenue of Stars is a pretty tourist-y sight but the walk along the waterfront is worth it.
We only walked a short portion of the entire avenue (it was so cold and windy!) but we managed to see the stars of some well-known celebrities like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee (though we never did find Bruce Lee’s statue).
One last shot of us before we packed up our bags to switch to the Hollywood Hotel at the Disneyland resort. That entry is up next time.
The day and a half that we spent in the city definitely wasn’t enough but it was a perfect way to get a taste of Hong Kong. I can’t wait until our next visit. 🙂
For more pics, check our Flickr here.