One week is far too short of time to experience Hong Kong. What an amazingly diverse, beautiful, fun, and friendly place! Whether we were riding the worlds longest outdoor escalator system, hopping a double-decker trolley, or ordering some cuisine unique to Hong Kong, we could not help but feel genuinely welcomed. Navigating the rarely straight streets, seeing the sights, and observing the amalgamation of so many cultures is just plain fun! In addition, the Olympics were on Hong Kong tv’s all over the place. What a great time to be in such an international city! It all felt so, well, international. We explored the thoroughfares, side streets, alleys, pedestrian walkways, parks, markets, shopping areas, mini zoos, and gardens. There was a lot to see just in the North Point neighborhood we called home for a week. And if you need to purchase anything, we discovered that you can find anything in Hong Kong. We saw fresh fruit and vegetable markets, stores full of imported goods from all over the world, and every brand of clothing, shoes, backpack, leather product or cell phone accessory you can think of. And if the stores did not sell what you are looking for by day you can find it in one of the night markets that just grow up in the streets every evening.But judging from all of the banks and businesses we saw and all the people dressed like they were going to work in those banks or businesses I am guessing the real money in Hong Kong is moving around well above street level. We like to spend most of our time simply living in any area we visit. We ride the public transportation, explore convenience stores and markets in detail, and look for the eating places most popular with the locals. We try to take note of what people wear, how they transport their groceries, how they walk their dog – and in this case, from which direction was the traffic approaching!? But Amber always makes sure we see a few of the kind of big sites an area may be famous for as well. There was one thing in particular she wanted us to experience, having seen it herself several years ago on an earlier visit. It was a little ways out from the urban areas, up on a mountainside, but can be reached by car, city bus, tour bus, and even an overhead cable car! We chose to hike, apparently.Using her ever faithful Google maps (yes, Google is “allowed” there!) she found us a trail well off the most frequented route – well, well, off. We saw four local hikers, three maintenance workers, two monks and one cow.Despite the 85 plus degree temperatures and one hundred percent humidity, we climbed the 5 miles through the forest and ferns to our destination – to meet up with all those who took the bus or cable car.The second attraction we explored was the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defense. (I just never get tired of exploring old forts!) It was set up like an educational museum complete with detailed historical displays, (each with text in multiple languages), a small theater, and even children’s activities. We opted to not participate in the “building a military periscope” craft project with the other kids but we did get a few pics in the uniforms display.We of course visited many restaurants and food vendors. It seemed like every other business at street level was food of some kind. Since Lee is happy with even the airplane food and doing most of the writing lately, the foods of our trip have taken a back-burner on the blog. We finally found some food in Hong Kong that didn’t burn his face off and was different enough to make an impact. He was happy to find out that Cantonese food is not known for its spice but simply for the quality of the ingredients which are able to shine with simple preparations.
*disclaimer, all the photos are from my phone so are a wonky size (the taste is nothing wonky, however)
One of the popular snacks to eat in Hong Kong goes by various names but is becoming increasingly popular the world over. I’m talking about the egg waffle, wafflette, Hong Kong style waffle or gai daan tsai (as its known in Cantonese). We were lucky enough to have a popular one right in our neighborhood! Simply pay HK$17 and wait and you are handed a hot egg waffle to snack on while strolling towards the water to soak up some views.
Hong Kong is also known for their egg tarts which have a crispy buttery crust and a nice eggy custard center. I do a lot of reading on what to eat any place I travel and sometimes, just sometimes, the internet hits it right on the head. The popularity of the egg tart is clear as pretty much every bakery (of which there is soo many in the city) all carry the egg tart, and lucky for us, at a reasonable price! The custard is baked to just set and is so soft and silky but not too sweet. Definitely a nice little treat when strolling through the city.
The picture below is of a double-steamed milk dessert that again, was so silky smooth but not too sweet. It is served hot or cold and a must have from Yee Shun Milk Company. I very much enjoyed trying the steamed milk but would suggest simply going for dessert or just a snack. It is quite a popular place, having several locations, that have lines before even opening.
Dim sum (click on link to read more) is a tradition and served along with tea, which is very important in Chinese culture. The dishes offered are meant to be small bites and served in more of an appetizer sized portion. There are really hundreds of types of dim sum but restaurants select a reasonable offering for diners. As dim sum is known around the world but hails from this part of the world, Guangdong Province, we figured we’d better eat some.
And eat some we did. Several times! Dim sum has morphed into something that is eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner with many good quality restaurants serving up a good variety to business folks out for lunch, grandparents eating with their grandkids and travelers alike. Prices for dim sum can go upwards of HK$800 (USD 100) per person! Again, we were lucky enough to have a well-known restaurant, Tim Ho Wan (the cheapest Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant for anyone who cares), right in our neighborhood.
Each restaurant we went to had different offerings but some favorites are small meat dumplings with soup inside, bbq pork buns that are in a flaky sweet dough with pork in a barbecue sauce (the sweetness can be a surprise to anyone unsuspecting) and the sticky rice with meats wrapped in lotus leave. All of course, served with unlimited tea which goes nicely to cut the richness of some of the foods. This is just a small sampling of the dishes we tried!
*bbq pork bun
Last, (but definitely not the end of our eating list!) something that I ate probably everyday as it is abundant and cheap is noodles with wanton. Having a restaurant right in our building and open late proved how popular the dish is. You get a choice of noodles (my favorite is the thin and slightly chewy egg noodles – see a theme?) and wanton, typically shrimp and/or pork in a thin soft wrapper, served in a large bowl with a simple broth. Additions including (for me) hot chili paste and maybe hoison sauce jazzed it up a bit. Missing these noodles already!
Coming up – Vladivostok, Russia!