Four Days in Hong Kong
It’s been a little while…and we have a few adventures to share. So, if you’re interested, here are a few photos from our 4 day visit to Hong Kong. This was our first stop on a 3 week trip that took us from Hong Kong to Vietnam and ended with a week in Japan.
As you may have guessed, food is a big part of travels – our favourite thing is to pick a few sights or intriguing neighbourhoods and explore on foot as much as possible with frequent snack breaks (and hope that the walking makes up for the excessive eating…). With a great transit system, amazing food, and no lack of interesting neighbourhoods to wander, Hong Kong was a perfect start to the trip.
Mid-levels Escalators & the Peak Tram
We woke up incredibly early on our first morning and grabbed steamed pork buns from a little sidewalk stand right next to our hotel. I love being up early in a new city and witnessing the progression from deserted to chaos. We wandered around the empty streets of Kowloon and ended up at the MTR metro station just in time for the morning rush – which was surprisingly eerie. Not at all the noisy bustle you would expect, but mostly silent, serious, well dressed crowds shuffling along…
We took the MTR over to Hong Kong Island and made our way to the mid-levels escalators, which apparently make up the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. This is the kind of thing that becomes necessary when you build a massive city on an incredibly steep slope! Riding the escalators from Central up through the mid-levels area was interesting, although I’m sure it would be decidedly less so if this was your daily commute. If you’re going to check them out, don’t go too early – the escalators are one way only, and switch direction depending on the time of day.
At the top of the escalators we followed some incredibly confusing signage on a circuitous route to the Victoria peak tram. This is a standard must-see on any Hong Kong itinerary and it was packed with tourists lining up for the short ride to the peak. In case you were wondering, the peak tram is a funicular! (See my first funicular experience in Santiago…).
Aside from the fantastic views of the city, Victoria Peak is home to a bunch of touristy restaurants and shops – basically it’s a mall with a viewing platform on top (this city takes its shopping pretty seriously…). There is an extra cost for access to the viewing platform, which includes some audio info – worth it for the view, but honestly, I couldn’t hear the audio over the wind!
Another of our wanderings took us to Kowloon park and the Mongkok area markets. Kowloon park is an oasis of green tucked in among the towering buildings and super busy streets of the Tsim Sha Tsui area. We took a short stroll through the gardens and spotted flamingos, many tiny turtles and even some tai chi practice.
If street market style shopping is more your thing, Mongkok seems to have a market for everything! We checked out the flower market, goldfish market, the kitchen supplies district and also came across some less picturesque spots selling things like construction supplies and vehicle parts.
The temple street night market was also worth a walk through. In addition to the typical cheap clothes and trinkets there were many fortune tellers and a karaoke section. The karaoke was especially entertaining – picture multiple competing stalls set up right next to each other and doing their best to drown out the competition…
Michelin Star Dim Sum
So obviously Hong Kong has plenty of interesting sightseeing, shopping, etc, but let’s be honest, we kinda went for the food…and it did not disappoint. I think we ate some form of dim sum every day we were there…and lots of breakfast soup! We woke on our third day intent on sampling the much lauded, cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world – Tim Ho Wan.
Since achieving their Michelin star status in 2010, this little dim sum place has expanded to include several locations in Hong Kong and internationally. After a little confusion we managed to find their location in the basement of the IFC mall (not the original, but a little more convenient) and proceeded to amass an embarrassing amount of little bamboo steamers on our table. Towers of them. It was all tasty, but the standout were the pork buns – complete with a delicate crisp sugary coating on the top unlike any I’ve tried before. Hopefully something to be re-created at home…
The Star Ferry & Kowloon Walkway
Like the Peak Tram, the Star Ferry is another Hong Kong must-see. The short ride from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon costs less than a dollar and gives a different perspective on the city and many a photo-worthy view. So many photos…
Just in case you didn’t get enough of views on the ferry, the harbour front walkway on the Kowloon side is also a good spot to capture the perfect panorama of the Hong Kong island skyline.
Happy Valley Horse Races
Our final night in Hong Kong just happened to be on a Wednesday – race night at Happy Valley Racecourse. We’ve been known to enjoy a little gambling and beer drinking on occasion, but never in a venue like this! The place is massive, with a multi-level complex on one side and views of the city skyline on the other. We got there in time for the first race and the crowds were impressive. Apparently there was some kind of Oktoberfest theme night going on, which added to the unique atmosphere – think beer-drinking contests, sausages and accordion music. We didn’t win any money, but a night at the races was a fantastic way to end our adventures in Hong Kong.
Next stop Vietnam! Stay tuned for our travels around Hanoi and Halong Bay…