HONG KONG TRAVEL

Hong Kong Diary

September 15, 2017

What We Did

Day 1: Central, Sheung Wan & Lan Kwai Fong
Melissa and i have always talked about visiting Hong Kong together, so it was a little surreal when we finally put plans into motion, despite being so spontaneous. Our flight got in at 9am and since we were only allowed to drop our bags off at noon, we took our time and had brunch at our first Michelin-star restaurant at the airport. Unlike Singapore’s humidity, it was that time of the year when Hong Kong was chilly, so no surprise the first thing i craved for was congee.

We took an Uber to the city and managed to drop our bags while the cleaner was tidying up the room, then began walking down to Sheung Wan. The first day was all about exploring and getting lost around our area. We found a bakery (Tsui Wah) that we ended up going to like 3 times during the whole trip, visited the Man Mo Temple, and nailed our first shoot, despite being at a very random location.

Definitely a good start to Hong Kong.

We went back to the apartment to freshen up before heading out for dinner. We were actually just walking around aimlessly and came across this food stall located deep in an alley. Everything about it screamed local – the open air concept, the chef and his big wok in view, the sharing of tables with those red plastic stools, even the manners haha. We’re not that big with restaurants when overseas so this was a treasured find for us. On the way back, we stumbled upon OZU, a Japanese bar that served the best sake cocktails! It was a pretty hipster place – old school music and waitstaff in baseball jerseys (we may/may not have stopped there because there was a bunch of guys checking us out hahaha!). If in doubt what to order, trust the staff recommendation. I did and my drink turned out to be the best i’ve ever had.

Location:
Man Mo Temple
124-126 Hollywood Rd
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Open 7 days, 8am-6pm

OZU Bar
Shop G6, 1 Hollywood Rd
Central, Hong Kong
Open Mon-Sat, 12pm-2am

Day 2: Diamond Hill, Mong Kok & Tsim Sha Tsui
First on our agenda was the Chilin Nunnery and the Nan Lian Garden, where we got to experience a quiet Hong Kong. There wasn’t much to do in this area besides the nunnery and garden, but maybe it was because we were there really early before anything was even open.

Mong Kok is like a whole different world than the main island. The range of street markets and street food are aplenty, not to mention the street shots. We managed to cover the Goldfish Market, Flower Market and Yuen Po Bird Garden while getting lost among the street stalls of trinkets and food galore. I was so excited when i found someone selling ‘tau fu fa’ but it turned out really gross so i ended up chucking it away.

By the time we got to Tsim Sha Tsui, the sun was already going down so we just hung around the East Promenade, watching the skyscrapers light up before us. We met up with Melissa’s friend for dinner and she took us to the freshest hotpot i have ever had – and i mean freshest because the seafood were all still alive! The items ranged from live abalone and prawns, fish, and an assortment of meat and veggies. They even used the remainder of your soup to make congee so we were crazy bloated by the end of dinner.

Location:
Chi Lin Nunnery
5 Chi Lin Drive
Diamond Hill, Kowloon

Nan Lian Garden
60 Fung Tak Road
Diamond Hill, Kowloon

Goldfish Market (Tung Choi Street)
Tung Choi St, Mongkok

Flower Market
Flower Market Rd, Prince Edward

Yuen Po St Bird Garden
Yuen Po St, Prince Edward

Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Day 3: Day Trip to Macau
The Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal was only a 15min walk from our place but when we got there, there was already a crowd at the ticketing counter and the earliest time we could get was the 10am ferry out. The food joints were hoarded by waiting passengers so we killed time by wandering around the building. There isn’t much to see but there is a Marks & Spencer Food Hall for you to go gaga at.

Day 4: Lantau Island
Two streets down our place is Yat Lok, a Michelin-star roast goose restaurant where we had our breakfast. Don’t let the ‘Michelin-star’ status fool you – this place looks just like an average Asian middle-class restaurant that you would’ve easily overlooked had it not been recommended. Prices are pretty reasonable despite the Michelin-star status (roughly AUD15-AUD20) and the food certainly did not disappoint.

We caught the MTR from Hong Kong station towards Lantau Island, getting off at Tung Chung station before making our way up by cable car. When we reached Ngong Ping Village, it was really packed but that didn’t stop us from our ootds. I remember ages ago, we used to be really shy and conscious of the people looking but if anything, I think now we’ve learned to block them out especially when we’re in the zone haha #noshame. Our first spot was basically just a stone wall and i guess we must’ve been there forever because these two Argentinian guys approached us twice and started chatting us up (i swear we somehow have such game in Hong Kong haha!).

The main attraction here would probably be the Tian Tan Buddha. Or the multiple cows just casually hanging around. I’d say the wait time for the cable cars probably takes longer than covering the entire area, but there’s no denying the magnificence of that view. A scenic flight with a twist, i call it (Air Canada actually regrammed my shot btw whoop!). I nearly had a panic attack on the way down though when one lady decided to throw the cabin off balance by standing up and walking around in her video call.

Location:
Yat Lok Restaurant
34-38 Stanley St, Central
Open 7 days, 10am-9pm (Mon-Sat), 10am-5.30pm (Sun)

Ngong Ping Village
Lantau, Hong Kong

Ngong Ping 360 (cable car)
Open 7 days, 11am-5pm Mon-Fri; 10am-5.30pm Sat-Sun

Day 5: Victoria Peak & Cheung Chau
We had to wake up really early to squeeze in a visit to Victoria Peak before our day trip to Cheung Chau, and also because we wanted to beat the crowds. It wasn’t easy waking up, but when we got to an empty tram station with stunning morning light streaming between the high-risers, it made everything worth it. The tram ride up had restrictive views of the city, and the city that day seemed to be enveloped by some kind of haze. I heard the night view is pretty amazing, though you probably want to go when it isn’t winter.

We met up with Mel’s friend at the Central Ferry Pier (Pier No. 5) and took a ferry ride to Cheung Chau. This fisherman village has all your dried seafood cravings and more, down to the unique dried seahorse, starfish and stingrays. For a small island, there is a wide variety of street food that we couldn’t help stuffing our faces and going back for seconds. I think we ate more street food in Cheung Chau alone than our entire trip in Hong Kong.

I never got to apologise to Mel for ruining her countdown plans. We were supposed to go home, pack and rest a bit before going back down to usher in the new year. I was feeling so drained so i took a nap, only to start getting a fever midway. My whole body felt so heavy that i had to cancel on her and basically just slept the entire night away. I feel bad cause i know she was looking forward to mingle in with the crowd but after all the early mornings and lack of sleep, i guess my body just took a toll. I was still uneasy on the flight back but thank heavens for Korean Air and their congee option for breakfast!

Location:
Sky Terrace 428
Open 7 days, 10am-11pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-11pm (Sat-Sun & Public holidays)
Combo admission: Adult – HKD88 (return), HKD75 (single)
Children/Senior – HKD42 (return), HKD34 (single)

Victoria Peak Tram
Open 7 days, 7am-12am
Admission: Adult – HKD45 (return), HKD32 (single)
Children/Senior – HKD20 (return), HKD12 (single)

Central Pier No. 5 (to Cheung Chau)
First service 4.15am, last service 1.30am
Standard ticket: Adult – HKD13.60 (Mon-Sat), HKD20.20 (Sun & Public Holidays)
Children/Senior/Disabled – HKD6.80 (Mon-Sat), HKD10.10 (Sun & Public Holidays)
Journey time – 55-60minutes

Fast ferry: Adult – HKD26.80 (Mon-Sat), HKD38.80 (Sun & Public Holidays)
Children/Senior/Disabled – HKD13.40 (Mon-Sat), HKD19.40 (Sun & Public Holidays)
Journey time – 35-40minutes

Where We Stayed

We rented an Airbnb studio that was around the Central/Lan Kwai Fong area. It was really convenient because you had all these food options just downstairs, convenience stores, bars, and the Central/Hong Kong MTR just down the street. The studio itself was really cosy, with more than enough power points, situated in a building filled with local charm – think claustrophobic lifts with buttons that don’t light up, dim lights and an old overnight guard.

The only thing that bothered me was the noise (cause i’m a very light sleeper) so i had trouble sleeping some nights. If you recall, i was sleeping off a fever on new years eve and the noise lasted until 5am. Not sure how the place is like on off-peak seasons though, might be heaps quieter or maybe still the same since the area is known for its nightlife.

How We Got Around

We mostly took the MTR and the occasional ferry. Public transport is really easy in Hong Kong, especially with the Octopus card. There are English signs and announcements and most people can converse in English. There is even an express MTR to/from the airport which beats the really long drive and peak prices of a cab. Just be aware that some stations have no escalators so it’ll be a challenge heaving your luggage bags down multiple flights of stairs and trying not to fall over (our case in point). You can use the Octopus card on the airport express but note that the fare will be more than the usual rate.

Pictures of me – Melissa Lee

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