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Hong Kong

Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, Hong Kong, long term travel, Southeast Asia, Travel

Adventures in Hong Kong



On my second day in Hong Kong, I hit the ground running and may have been a bit over-ambitious. During my time at the tourist office, I had picked up a little booklet that outlined the different neighborhoods in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and provided walking tours. I had nothing booked until the afternoon, so I set out to explore.


I first headed over to the Li Nian Gardens, which are nestled right in the midst of the city. Part of the garden actually sits under the motorway, but they are some of the most peaceful, well-maintained gardens I’ve been too. I strolled through there for about an hour before heading over to the preserved walled city of Kowloon.


From here, I felt the urge to check out the goldfish market, and I’m glad I did. This is one entire street filled with shops selling hundreds of varieties of goldfish, aquarium supplies, frogs, turtles, etc. Given the limited living space in Hong Kong, I suppose these small animals are the only pets families have space for. It was really unbelievable to see all these fish. Everywhere you looked where walls of bright colored goldfish. It was like “pick a fish, any fish.” I don’t know where they keep them all!


It was time to head back over to the harbor for my afternoon cruise on the junk boat. Unfortunately the beautiful morning we had was long gone, and clouds and fog rolled in before the boat ride. Still, I was able to get views of the entire harbour and get an education on the history of the harbour. However, I took the bad weather as my sign to head back to paradise and kick my feet up before meeting my friend Jeana for dinner.
Jeana and I met in August of last year in Varanasi, India. We just started chatting at dinner one night, and I told her I was supposed to be passing through Hong Kong, so we exchanged information. I had contacted her before my trip and we made plans to meet up for dinner. I made my way from Kowloon over to Hong Kong Island and we decided to go for hot pot. I had never tried this, so I didn’t really understand the concept, but it’s basically like Korean style BBQ, except you select a soup to cook everything in, including meat, veggies, and dumplings.
Jeana and I ordered so much food. I was busting at the seams. We had bok choy and spinach, pork dumplings, a plate of beef, and about 4 other types of dumplings. I was starting to fill up, but Jeana told me we had to finish everything because she hates wasting food. I agree, so we tucked in. We managed to do a pretty good job and rolled out of that restaurant. The first hot pot experience was a good one!
We decided to go up to Victoria Peak despite the cloudy evening. It was going to be my last chance to catch any views, so we opted to go. The tram ride up passes by the midlevels (a residential area on the hill on Hong Kong Island). You can literally see in peoples windows as you climb to the peak. At the top is a whole new world. As well as the museum, you have shopping, restaurants , bars, and the view! Ok- I’ve seen pictures taken on clear days when you can see straight across the harbor to Kowloon. It’s pretty amazing. We didn’t have that, but it was still neat to have a birds eye view of the financial district below.
Friday dawned cloudy as well, so I didn’t feel so bad about visiting the peak the night before. I met up with a family friend for an Asian-fusion lunch and then made my way to the airport to catch my flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Although I was only there for a short period of time, Hong Kong gets bonus points in my book. It’s such a modern, clean, easy to navigate city, with great food and friendly people. Not to mention, I had great company and was taken such good care of while I was there. I’m glad to know I’ll be passing through again on my way home in May.

Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, Hong Kong, long term travel, Southeast Asia, Travel

Around The Wolrd: Part Two

For those of you following, you know that I was a bit of a slacker with the blog during my first trip, but I’m committed to keeping up with it this time around, because there are just too many details that are forgotten when you write after the fact.

I have now embarked on Part 2 of the World Tour (well, the Southeast Asia tour). I left Atlanta on Monday, and had a perfect journey over. I was on Korean Air, my new favorite airline because of their amazing service, and I arrived in Hong Kong by 11pm Tuesday evening. I hadn’t booked any accommodation and was debating on cheating for the first night in town. It was late, I didn’t have my bearings yet, and the thought of schlepping around scoping out guesthouses sounded like something I’d be much better at after a good night’s sleep.

I hopped on a bus bound for Kowloon around midnight and a couple of people on the bus showed me where to get off. Fortunately my ATM card worked here (it hadn’t at the airport), and the guy in 7-11 pointed me in the right direction for a hotel. I had a feeling I wasn’t in the best area at first, seeing as most of the rooms could be rented overnight, or for 2 hours. After some more walking, I gave in and booked one night at a little boutique hotel, called Nathan Hotel. If anyone is ever looking for nice 4-star accommodation at a really good price, check out the Nathan (www.nathanhotel.comm.)

Accommodation in Hong Kong is not as cheap as what you can find on the Southeast Asia circuit. Most hostels or guesthouses charge upwards of $30 per night, so I was happy to find lodging at the Cosmic Guesthouse in Mirador Mansion for about $20 a night. The room is small. It’s cramped when me and my bags are in it, and I haven’t quite figured out if I should sit on the toilet while I take a shower, or stand with one leg on either side of it. I suppose it pays to be a small Asian person!

After getting settled, I was starving, so I ventured across the road for some dim sum at Super Star Seafood Restaurant. Ok, dim sum is like tapas and meant to be shared, but I felt I couldn’t come to Hong Kong and not have dim sum, so with the help of my waiter, we picked out three dishes for me to try. Actually, he just took the menu out of my hands and circled three plates, told me they were good, authentic dim sum dishes, and I wasn’t going to argue. After gorging myself on steamed shrimp dumplings, shu mei and marinated pork wrapped in a steamed pasta like shell, I had to sit for a minute before contemplating the afternoon.

The weather was not looking too good, so I walked down to the harbor just to take a look, and stumbled upon the Hong Kong Office of Tourism. A helpful lady informed me that most museums were free on Wednesdays, so after booking a boat tour for Thursday, I made my way over to the Museum of History. I toured the “Hong Kong Story” exhibit, which took me all the way from the formation of the land mass that is now Hong Kong, to the day HK gained Independence from the British. It was a really interesting couple of hours, and I felt a little bit more knowledgeable about HK’s history, which was good seeing as I was having dinner with a local, and didn’t want to seem too ignorant about the culture and the country.

At 7pm, I met up with Mr.Wong, who is an old colleague of my dad’s. He had heard about my trip to HK, and emailed to invite me to dinner. He picked me up at Cosmic Guesthouse, and I think he was a bit alarmed at where I was staying. Still, I assured him I was used to the hostel circuit. He later told me that Mirador Mansion, and its neighbor, Chungking Mansion, used to be quite notorious for being “seedy” places, and well known on the drug circuit.

Mr. Wong, a charming older Chinese man, and I made our way over to Hong Kong Island to a restaurant called Island Tang, and he took the liberty of ordering a delicious, authentic Chinese meal, consisting of suckling pig, BBQ Chicken, garlic beef with broccoli, tofu, steamed white fish and noodles. About three-quarters of the way through the meal, he informed me that he knew it was a lot of food, but that he also had a sweet tooth and would be ordering dessert. I was pacing myself at this point, and wondering when scientists were going to develop portable second stomachs. We finished the meal with more jasmine tea, pastries filled with steamed egg, and a chilled mango custard, which I amazingly found room for all of.

Mr. Wong is originally from Shanghai. He then moved to Hong Kong, before moving to the States. He lived in NYC from 1954-1963, and also spent time in California and Massachusetts. We had a good time talking about the New York City food scene, his time at Columbia, NYU and The New School, and his other old haunts that are still around.

He filled me in on what to do with the rest of my time in Hong Kong, and sent me home feeling stuffed and happy to be in such a great city.