I arrived in Hong Kong after a stress-free 14-hour flight from SFO feeling completely elated and excited. I had 5 hours to kill at the airport before my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew flew in so I ended up people watching and snacking on a pineapple bun, coconut tart and fresh watermelon juice. What a great way to start my worldwide trip! As most of you know, eating/snacking is my favorite pastime. Since we didn't arrive at the Regal Oriental Hotel in Kowloon City until 11pm, we didn't officially kickstart our Hong Kong tour until the following day.
The next morning, we took a 20-minute taxi ride to Tsim Sha Tsui, one of Hong Kong's major tourist shopping destinations, to eat our very first meal. Since most restaurants don't open before 10am, we almost had to eat at McDonalds. That would have been a travesty! I'm so glad we avoided that and found a restaurant that serves noodles/shrimp dumpling soup instead. Afterwards, we walked along Canton Road and stumbled upon Harbour City Center, where you can walk for HOURS inside a shopping mall - a perfect reprieve from stifling heat. The center is adjacent to Harbour City Ocean terminal, where you can catch breathtaking views of the Hong Kong skyline. I took plenty of photos to capture the moment. While we planned to see more of the area, my sister quickly became ill and we ended up taking her back to the hotel. Shortly after, my brother-in-law felt queasy and both were bedridden for the next day and a half. We only had 2 days in Hong Kong, so you can imagine how unfortunate this was for both of them.
While my sister and brother in law were recuperating, my nephew (Ryan) and I used this time to explore the city and spend quality time together before he heads off to college in August. The best thing about staying at a hotel that's slightly off the beaten path is that you get a better feel for the local culture. We roamed the streets in search of Gatorade and discovered many mom and pop shops (bakeries, hardware stores, fruit stands, and grocery stalls) along the way. I purchased 2 lbs of fresh lychee fruit from one of the local grocers. The woman snarled at me when I attempted to "self-serve" like we do at local farmers markets in the US. My bad!
We eventually ended up at the Carpenter Road Park, where we took a few snapshots and then headed back to Regal Oriental. While there, we decided to have a quick drink at the hotel pub (by the way, drinking age in Hong Kong is 18). The first drink on the menu was aptly called "Around the World" (vodka, mint, and melon juice) so I ordered it to commemorate my first WW stop. After checking in on my sick family members, we took a taxi to the popular town of Mongkok. Our first stop was Ladies' Market, where we discovered blocks and blocks of goods ranging from Hello Kitty paraphernalia to professional makeup cases. My nephew purchased a "Dolce and GLABAZA" watch for $2 (you don't need to be a fashionista to know that they definitely butchered the D&G name). After Ladies' Market, we continued walking past numerous food stands, where they sold an entire gamut of food items ranging from skewered sausage to sauteed TRIPE (YUCK!!!!). I couldn't believe how many people were out on a Wednesday night. Many of them were locals hanging out on Sai Yeung Choi Street. The area was thriving, and you can definitely feel the energy (somewhat tantamount to Times Square in NYC). My kind of place! We wanted to stay much longer, but the stores start to close around 11pm so we sadly headed back to the hotel.
On our last day in Hong Kong, Ryan and I took a taxi to Star Ferry Terminal to catch the ferry to Hong Kong Central. Once there, we walked a short distance to the Exchange square and caught the #260 bus to Stanley market. It was a much longer drive than I had originally expected, but well worth the commute. We passed by numerous points of interests including the main business district, Deep Water Bay, several parks, and so much more. After 30 minutes, we arrived at Stanley Market. I have to say that I was slightly disappointed - It didn't help that we visited Ladies' Market the night before. Stanley Market is definitely a tourist spot; whereas Ladies' Market is a local hotspot. I preferred the latter. We strolled along Stanley's Waterfront Mart, enjoyed a couple of San Miguel Light beers, and roamed around a bit before taking the bus back to town.
On our last night, my sister and brother-in-law were able to join us for a SUPER quick (they were still groggy) night on the town. We made our way back to the Star Ferry Terminal to see the HK skyline, The Old Clock Tower (landmark from The Age of Steam) and the Hong Kong Cultural Center. This is definitely a must see!
Our stay in Hong Kong was way too short! I definitely want to come back to visit key places (i.e. Victoria Peak, the Man Mo Temple, Po Lin Monastary) I missed this time around. Next Stop: My home town - Philippines.