A Travellerspoint blog

Hong Kong

Hello again, our old friend Hong Kong

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"Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world" - Tien Yi-Heng

Foodie moment

We're back in Asia so where is the first place on the foody list - Yum Cha of course! We headed to the famous Maxim's Palace Chinese Restaurant. A bit of a mission to find but once you're there it is amazing! Chandeliers hang from the ceiling, panoramic views of the water out of the floor to ceiling windows, and the staff are wheeling around little trolleys filled with bamboo baskets filled with all sorts of goodies! I was in heaven!

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Cultural moment

Yum Cha means "drink tea" in Cantonese Chinese. Although I love Yum Cha for the dumplings, the tea is just as important to the process, and it all fits perfectly together. As Yum Cha is often enjoyed as Brunch or Lunch, tea seems a better idea than beer (or bottles and bottles of wine! :) )

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Wow moment

One of my favourite things about Hong Kong, and in particular Hong Kong Island is that even in the middle of all the glass, concrete and skyscrapers, you regularly come across small parks, green oasis' in a concrete jungle. It's so nice to be able to just step off the street and out of the hustle and bustle, into quiet pockets of serenity so you can slow your thoughts and catch your breath.

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What we learnt today

Best initiative ever!!!! In Hong Kong, at Central station, they have something called City Check-in. Basically you can check in your luggage with your airline, 24 hours to 90 minutes before your flight, and they will ship your luggage off to the airport. It is great because it leaves you free to sight see around the city after check out with no bags tying you down, and you don't need to get to the airport as early to check in. Why does this not exist in other cities!??! So simple but a travellers dream!

Oh, and here's a picture of Disneyland at night as we flew over it :)

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Posted by travellinglise 05:39 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

The Final Gong for Hong Kong

sunny 30 °C
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Hong Kong - Asia's world city

Our final word on Hong Kong

The Good

Hong Kong is a fantastic place for tourists. It is a great gateway to Asia, a stepping stone to helping tourists become comfortable with the sights, sounds and smells of Asia, just don't expect the rest of Asia to be as accommodating!

  • The people are incredibly friendly and helpful, going out of their way to ask you if you need help.
  • Most people know some English and are happy to use it.
  • The streets are immaculately clean
  • Public transport = amazing!
  • Food choices are diverse and you can try anything from authentic Szechuan cuisine to award winning Italian
  • Affordable prices (apart from accommodation)

And my favourite thing about the city that makes it a tourist paradise, the signage. On most street corners there are tourist signposts pointing out tourist attractions in bright pink, and practical things like the MTR and Public toilets in blue (a life saver after spicy food!!!). Its almost impossible to get lost.. not sure where you are? Look for the glimpse of pink in the distance and you'll be delivered safely to the MTR - which is full of maps and will whip you quickly and safely home.

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The Not So Good

  • "Copy watch, Copy bag, Tailor for suit" - The non-stop harassment in the tourist areas by touts becomes infuriating after one day, and they just don't give up!
  • The air pollution - I just don't think you can get a smog free shot from the Peak at any time any more - it's a shame!
  • Shopping centres!!! Maybe because we're non-shoppers we just don't understand... but do you REALLY need 4 high-rise shopping centres in a city block? Do you need 2 Channel, Dior and Cartier stores one street over from each other? Do you?! We think not, but each to their own and the crowds seem to love it!
  • The nightly light show - really quite lame!!!

Top tips for Hong Kong

  1. Always carry a umbrella in Monsoon season - in fact any time of year...
  2. Use the MTR!
  3. Carry a cardigan - the restaurants and museum pump out the AC!
  4. Try a restaurant with no English on the menu - at least you know its authentic and the excitement waiting to see if you're getting what you think you ordered is almost as fun as the eating!
  5. Use the free Wifi in the parks
  6. Buying your pre-drinks at 7-11 saves your budget
  7. Stay in Central/Causeway bay if you want night life and in Tsim Sha Tsui if you want shopping.

Mei Lam Guest House

Housed in the less notorious Mirador Mansion (in comparison to Chungking Mansion) in Tsim Sha Tsui (right next to MTR), Mei Lam GH is an affordable, comfortable option. The rooms are incredibly tiny (request one with a window if you can or you'll get claustrophobic!) but they are clean, AC is great, TV, bar fridge and super fast Wifi make up for the size. They are also surprisingly quiet (unless you have noisy neighbours in the room next door). The worst things are that the lifts are always busy so you will need to line up or take the stairs, and every time you leave you step right into a nest of annoying touts. Overall, in a city where accommodation is pricey this is a cheap option for the budget conscious. We like!

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Posted by travellinglise 07:41 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged hong_kong_island mtr mei_lam_guesthouse Comments (0)

Winner, Winner Hotdog Dinner!!!

VERY happy in Happy Valley!

sunny 28 °C
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Foodie moment

After rave reviews on Trip advisor we set off to have Dim sum at One Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant. Our luck was with us again as we avoided the expected long wait and got the last table in the house. With a great menu in English and pictures of each, we were guaranteed no nasty surprises. We tried some some stuff we hadn't had before but the steamed dumplings were still our favourite with the Chiu Chow style being some of the best dumplings we've ever had!!!

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Cultural moment

So up until today, we have been pretty accepting of the cultural differences in Hong Kong, and have been quite comfortable with them. However today we stumbled across some not so nice things in the Mong Kok markets. Firstly, we walked through a wet market just out of curiosity and what we saw could only be describe as fish hell! It wasn't the butchering of fish and blood and guts on display that was unsettling, it was the live tanks that got us. Fish are kept alive on display packed in little tanks, some floating upside dead, others looking stressed out of their minds, some of them even jumping out onto the floors trying to escape. We also went to Gold Fish Street, which is a stretch of road lined with pet shops, each showing on display live fish kept in plastic bags much too small to be anything other than torture, some had multiple fish in them and fish MUCH bigger than a goldfish! The bird market with hundreds of birds kept in tiny cages for sale was no better. We know this is a way of life for people here, and its not up to us to judge the morals and ethical issues of these behaviours, but to us seeing it first hand was disturbing.

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Wow moment

Wednesday night is racing night at Happy Valley, and boy did it go off! The grandstands were larger and more modern than i ever imagined, the crowd bigger and more animated. A great mix of Westerners, Chinese tourists and Locals led to a fantastic night. Even though it was more amateur than racing in Melbourne, it still had everything we wanted, and all for $10HK ($1.20AU) who could complain. Oh yeah, and we picked a winner!! A mix of form guide info and gut instinct - all or nothing - $20HK for the win (Yup high rollers!!), we picked an outside chance and celebrated like we'd just won millions (In truth we just shared a hot dog and got another beer - but oh well, poetic license!!).

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What we learnt today

Hong Kong is full of amazing, hidden parks and gardens. Each have aviaries, ponds, waterfalls and free Wifi. They are a great escape from the busy hustle and bustle of the city, yet if you didn't know they were there you would find it hard to believe they existed between the skyscrapers and motorways.

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Posted by travellinglise 02:07 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged parks happy_valley_racecourse one_dim_sum_chinese_restaurant hong_kong_parks horseracing Comments (2)

"Peeking" @ HK

sunny 26 °C

"Life is like a box of chocoloates landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance" - Charles Lindbergh

Foodie moment

Mark said we couldn't leave China without having some duck. We found a place well known for its Peking duck, but after finding out it was $300HK for a whole duck ($40AU - reasonable price but way out of our price range, and far too much duck!) and it took an hour to cook we decided to reduce our expectations slightly! We ended up at a restaurant full of locals and ordered roasted duck and honey roasted pork. Final bill including beer came to around $200HK (Slightly more affordable!) and the pork was the winner!

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Special mention goes to Bubba Gump Shrimp, Victoria Peak. Not for the food but the fantastic views while we ate. Once again our luck has been with us in Hong Kong, from no waiting lines, to the best seat in the house.

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Cultural moment

Victoria Peak is one of Hong Kong's most breathtaking attractions, taking in views from the ocean to the harbour surrounded by nature and forests. A tourist hotspot. So, in typical Hong Kong style, they decided to build a sprawling 7 story shopping centre there. Full of American chain stores, High end fashion and souvenirs, some people come all the way up here just for the shopping! Not interested in shopping? Too bad! To get to the observation deck you had to walk past each level of shops between the escalators. What did we buy? Nothing! We win Hong Kong!

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Wow moment

We've been intending to visit Victoria peak since we first got here but the weather has been delaying us. Knowing a lookout at the top of a mountain is fairly useless when you are surrounded by low lying cloud we have had to keep putting it off. Needless to say when the sun peaked through the clouds and we saw patches of blue sky we dropped all plans and hot footed it to the ferry and onto the peak tram and up to the 360 degree observation deck. We were not disappointed... but i'll leave it to the photos to explain better! :)

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What we learnt today

In Hong Kong, there is another level for pedestrians other than underground and street level. When you come to a busy road it isn't just a simple task of crossing the road, that might slow the traffic down! Instead you need to find the associated subway. They might be underground, or massive pedestrian bridges spanning all four corners of an intersection. It certainly adds time to a supposed short walk down the street once you've climbed stairs, crossed roads back and forwards and cut through a high rise to reach the opposite corner of an intersection

Posted by travellinglise 01:39 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged victoria_peak peak_tram bubba_gump_shrimp Comments (1)

The happiest place on earth... (Well one of them anyway!)

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"You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway" - Walt Disney

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Foodie moment

Pepper Lunch restaurant is always a popular choice in any food court. You are given a sizzling hot (!!) plate with rice, raw meat, corn, cheese, pepper sauce and egg if you choose. You then "sizzle it your way", stirring it up quickly to cook it and mix the flavours - then enjoy... yum!

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Cultural moment

One of the funniest moments of our day was visiting the 'Mickey's PhilharMagic' 3D show at Disneyland. The show itself was amusing but the Chinese audience had us in stitches from start to finish.... Firstly was the way they chose their seats, once the doors opened to enter the theatre it was like the boxing day sales. People were yelling to each other, sprinting to chairs, climibing over seats, running up and down the aisles. I'm not sure if they were worried there wouldn't be a seat for everyone, or thought there was one good spot to sit but it was pandemonium!
The next cultural difference we found was their reaction to the 3D movie. This was an old school 3D movie, with some effective bits but many effects bordering on blurry, but we may as well have been watching Avatar II according to the reaction of the audience. They ooed and ahhed, screamed when objects flew towards them off the screen, and at least half the audience spent most of the short film trying to touch the 3D objects that were hovering in front of their eyes. I guess they just don't see many 3D movies in China!

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Wow moment

DISNEYLAND! I've been to both the American ones, and sure, this one is a lot smaller and probably targeted at younger kids but it is still Disneyland, and I love it! The layout, the details, the parade, the rides, the music, the characters and the fireworks... it all makes me jump up and down in excitement! Bonus was that the park was quiet so most rides had little to no wait time so we could go on our favourites again and again. And the big finale fireworks..... brings a tear to my eye :) Ps. Mark liked it too! :D

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What we learnt today

Asian families take their 4 and 5 year old children (definitely under the height restrictions!!) on super scary roller coasters like Space mountain, and the kids seem to enjoy it and have very little fear!
And a personal thing i learnt, which will shock many people i know, I enjoy roller coasters! (Well the ones i went on today anyway!) We even finished one for the second time and ran straight back around to go on it again!

Posted by travellinglise 19:04 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged lantau pepper_lunch disneyland_hong_kong Comments (1)

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