trip report: hong kong
After our whirlwind five days in Manila, it was even whirlwindier to stop in Hong Kong for two nights. But, hey, we were already halfway around the world; why wouldn't we see as much of Asia as we could in one week?
After a strong endorsement from my dear friend Louise, the Izon clan checked into The Langham Hong Kong, which was very conveniently located in Tsim Sha Tsui (a.k.a. TST) in Kowloon, which is the mainland area of the city of Hong Kong. We were only about a five-minute walk from the Star Ferry (which is what you take to get to Hong Kong Island, the southern part of the city) and surrounded by tons of shopping and restaurants. Most important: the concentration of both cosmetic and grocery stores was extremely high. Mascara and Asian candies, guys; what more does a girl want?
If you ever find yourself in Hong Kong, though, I can't recommend this hotel highly enough. The service was beyond anything I've ever experience in the States: I never saw someone not smiling. The best part was the Langham Club, which offered free breakfast and tea every day. My niece Parker went bananas for all the free desserts and I definitely ate my weight in smoked salmon every morning. (Side note: why isn't Bircher museli more of thing in the US, yet? We saw it in HK and all over Japan and Thailand and it's SO GOOD.)
Since we only had about two days, we hit the ground running as soon as we landed, my sister and I pounding the pavement in TST for Korean beauty creams, Hong Kong tarts, and photographing a million neon signs.
Then, after forcing my 11-year-old niece to do my hair because she's already a million times better at it than I am, the whole family decamped for T'ang Court for our first annual Chinese Thanksgiving dinner. Because I am nothing if not a meal planner, the walk from our rooms to the restaurant was only ... a few floors downstairs! That meant I could wear my big girl shoes.
T'ang Court specializes in Cantonese cuisine and it was here that I first tried a Hong Kong speciality that I've never seen in the states: a crab and onion dish baked right into the crab shell.
I especially love that they serve it inside a napkin to make it easier to maneuver the meat out of the shell. While we didn't have any turkey during this Thanksgiving feast, I don't think anyone minded after the lobster and fried rice appeared.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch the tram up to Victoria Peak. While some people told us to skip the trip (too many lines, too many tourists), I am always one for views and I liked seeing a bird's eye panorama of the city (see pic above).
Lunch that day was at Lung King Heen, a reservation that I made about five minutes after I booked our plane ticket (Are you surprised? You really shouldn't be at this point). In my research, this seemed like the most well-known dim sum spot, as well as having a beautiful view over the harbor to Kowloon.
This whole meal was pretty incredible, but the trio of Chinese barbecue was what sticks out the most.
OK, so, jellyfish? Not my favorite. But the chicken and pork were sweet on the outside and tender on the inside. Pretty much perfection.
After lunch we wandered around Central, which has some of the best antique stores, boutiques and bars in the city. Also, cat street art.
We even found the Hong Kong outpost of the Gagosian Gallery!
After walking around until our legs felt like jelly, we opted to take the Star Ferry back to the hotel, rather than the metro. This boat ride is rightfully famous for the views and with temperatures hovering around 75 degrees, it was a beautiful trip back across the water.
We had just enough time to make it out to the water to catch the nightly light show.
While Hong Kong has a lot of similarities to Tokyo (huge metropolis, fashion/tech/art forward), the former definitely feels more cosmopolitan. There were days that went by in Tokyo where we never met another English-speaker; maybe this is a "duh" statement, but everything about Tokyo feels very Japanese. In Hong Kong, however, almost everyone asked us if we lived there. Not because, I don't think, we seemed especially Hong Kong-like, but because people from every possible corner of the globe call it home.
Maybe it's because their McDonald's has things like this.
Or that cats hang out like this.
Whatever it may be, I'm a fan. Two days are certainly not enough to explore this city. I can't wait to get back.