I’ve been to Hong Kong twice in my life, once with my parents in 1998 — Asian currency crisis time so everything was bargainous — and then again in 2000, at the tail end of my two week bike trip through China. There’s something about Hong Kong that makes me feel at home. I felt the same in 1998 and 2000 and I felt it again in 2016, 16 years after my last visit.
In 1998, I had my palm read at the Temple Street Night Market. “You will live outside the United States for many years,” the fortune teller told me. How much has been self-actualization since then? I don’t know. He also told me, “When given the chance to move, move. Moving is good for you.”
Moving IS good for me. Me and London get along very, very well, but maybe I should move to Hong Kong! (Apparently the expat tax situation is wonderous.)
Hong Kong was my first stop of my Asian sojourn because the flight was cheap — a Finnair business class bargain — and well, because of the crazy pull on the heartstrings. Also, my friend Eugene is there and it was time for a catch-up.
Besides coming down with an awful cold on the flight over, getting my credit card number swiped at one of my hotels, and living through the coldest day in Hong Kong in 60 years without a coat (34 degrees F, 2 degrees C), here’s what I got up to…
Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tours, Sham Shui Po: I didn’t do much my first night in town — um, OK I paid $70 USD for a gel manicure at a place by my hotel — but I was up bright and early my first morning to join my guide Fiona for a food tour of Sham Shui Po, an older part of Hong Kong that I absolutely loved. I honestly can’t say enough great things about this tour. Fiona was lively, personable and funny and all the stops revealed a new little bit of old Hong Kong. We started off with a huge pineapple bun and milk tea, and then I ate all the rice rolls somewhere and all the roast duck and roast goose somewhere else. I would do this again and I would also try their other tours as well. Visit their website.
Good Evening Kowloon, Walk in Hong Kong: This tour took me to a bunch of cool places that I probably wouldn’t have gone to on my own. The craziest bit is when we walked into a singing parlour off of Temple Street and watched the old folks sing their favorite tunes. We also visited a parking garage for a great view of Temple Street Night Market. (Pictured at top of post.) We stopped at a pretty average place for dinner though, and our guide was not helpful in ordering. (I would rather a guide tell me what’s good than hand me a huge menu of unfamiliar dishes and ask me to choose.) This outfit has great reviews, so I think I just got a bum guide. (She was nice. Just nothing in comparison to the lively Fiona from the previous day.) Visit their website.
PMQ: A design-destination with lots of small little boutiques and interesting things to look at. Maybe it was the weather — freezing cold, raining — but there was no one there when I visited, which felt a little odd. I had about 13 people stop me and ask me to take a survey about why I chose to visit PMQ, which got a little annoying after about the fifth time. I really wasn’t in a shopping mood, but if you’re a shopper, you should go here. Visit their website.
Cafe Gray Deluxe, Upper House: I stopped in for lunch and drinks on my last day in Hong Kong, when the sun had finally decided to shine and the skies were a perfect crystal blue. It’s not cheap and I thought it a little odd that they sat me next to the only other full table in the place, but I enjoyed the views and my soup and I also really liked the loos. Go if you like expensive things and eavesdropping on private equity professionals. Visit their website.
Chungking Mansions: This building was fascinating! I wish there was a tour just about this space. To quote from Wikipedia, “Chungking Mansions features guesthouses, curry restaurants, African bistros, clothing shops, sari stores, and foreign exchange offices. It often acts as a large gathering place for some of the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, particularly South Asians (Indians, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans), Middle Eastern people, Nigerians, Europeans, Americans, and many other peoples of the world. I wish I had taken more photos here. If you like slice-of-life stuff, this place is for you! Read more about Chungking Mansions.
Aberdeen Street Social: I know, I know. Don’t kill me. I went all the way to Hong Kong and went to a Jason Atherton restaurant. BUT…I was freezing cold and it was raining and I needed a rest. (Aberdeen Street Social is at PMQ.) So I dropped in here and had a glass of wine and caught up on social media. It was nice, cozy and warm. I did not have anything to eat here. Visit their website.
Din Tai Fung, Miramar Shopping Plaza: I ate all the XLB at Din Tai Fung, plus all the sesame noodles. There is nothing left now. Sorry about that. Maybe one day, they will open in London. One day… Visit their website.
Lung Kee Wanton, Tsim Sha Tsui: I dropped in here for breakfast one morning and boy was I glad. A huge bowl of noodles, pork wontons and fishballs. For cheap! Delicious. They didn’t speak much English but sign language and pointing worked perfectly well. Cheap and cheerful. Visit Open Rice.
As always, I only scratched the surface during my short visit to Hong Kong. My cold and the absolutely freezing cold weather that I was not prepared for also put a bit of a damper on things. No problem though because I am pretty sure I will not let another 16 years go by before visiting again…