I begin this blog post as I sit on the A11 Airport Flyer at 5:30am and boy, am I tired – no doubt I will be finishing this post in a few days time on a computer!
IT’S been a non-stop trip, visiting old haunts and favourite places, and Hong Kong being Hong Kong, there are always new things to discover and new places to explore. I was only here for four full days, and I could have been there for twice as long and not run out of things to do. But, alas, all good things must come to an end and I am leaving Hong Kong to return to the equally wonderful Korea. It has been a trip that has put many things into perspective, raised questions and answered others. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
I’LL try to keep the waffle to a minimum, but before I launch into it can we take a moment to appreciate this piano that they have in the departures are of Gimhae Airport! Such a good idea.
CHECK out the map featuring all the places I’ll be talking about, and some honorable mentions, here. I’d forgotten how good google maps could be – It’s all but useless in Korea (but I’m getting quite fond of Daum now I can read Korean!)
But I digress… On with the show!
Tuesday 21st February 2017
NOT the most eventful of days, my flight was delayed and then I had to get from the airport to Fortress Hill, where I was staying. As this was near where I had lived for two years, this was no great effort, but I had forgotten the rush hour traffic – I ended up taking the airport express and transferring to the Island Line. So. Many. People. In Korea, people say that Seoul is busy. In comparison to Hong Kong, Seoul is a wealth of space!
MY first stop in Hong Kong was, of course, Tim Ho Wan’s. This is my favourite dim sum restaurant. The food is good, it’s cheap and it’s an all round good time. There are multiple branches around Korea, but I would recommend this one above the others! Sadly I have no pictures, we were all too keen to get stuck in, but this one from a few years ago will suffice – nothing has changed! It’s still incredible.
FROM here, Cara and I headed over to Wan Chai to The Pawn. I only went a couple of times back when I lived in Hong Kong, and I wish I’d gone more. A lovely atmosphere, lovely staff and (in my opinion) excellent company. It was lovely to sit outside and watch the world (or trams) go by!
The view from The Pawn, Wan Chai
Wednesday 22nd February 2017
FIRST stop Wednesday was the Simplylife cafe in Quarry Bay. Hardly somewhere you would go as a tourist, but as a former resident – and of this area in particular – I was all about to heading back to places I knew. The cups, the baking, the atmosphere… nothing had changed at all (well the design on the cups had, but they were always changing anyway!)
I then went on a wee wander around the area (which, indecently, was used to film part of the fourth Transformers movie!) The most notable change was that the gym that had once been above the McDonalds had closed. Round 1 to Maccy D’s there…
IT was then time to head to central and the ferry piers. Jasmine, Megan and I were heading to Cheung Chau – my favourite of all the islands around Hong Kong, noted for its lack of vehicles, it’s bun festival, it’s mango mochi and it even has a Mini Great Wall! Pier 5 is the one needed for Cheung Chau, with ferry’s going every 30 minutes. The fast ferries leave at 15 minutes past the hour and the slower ferries leave at 45 minutes past the hour. We took the slow one there and the fast one back – I can’t even begin to tell you the difference in time, but I do love boats!
View of Hong Kong as we left the harbour for Cheung Chau
WE moseyed around the island, walking down the prom and then winding through the streets. I took my dad here a couple of years back, when I was still living in Hong Kong. My dad had been posted there in the late seventies and he told me that Cheung Chau was how he remembered Hong Kong city itself to be, back in the day. I am please to say that Cheung Chau still hasn’t changed – and it’s mango mochi is delicious!
Boats in the Cheung Chau harbour
AFTER making it back to Central, we each headed back to base for a nap, a range of jet lag and general tiredness between us, and then Megan and I later headed to Temple Street Night Market. Meeting up with Amy at Yau Ma Tei MTR station, it was just like old times as we wended our way down the market. Again, little had changed. A few stalls I had once frequented were missing, but it was otherwise as it has always been. More importantly, The Spicy Crab at Temple Street was better than I remember – because you can’t go to temple street without eating at The Spicy Crab.
The Spicy Crab at Temple Street
Thursday 23rd February 2017
TODAY began with a Pacific Coffee trip! An old classic and, if I am going to frequent a chain, I much prefer this to Starbucks. The only reason I am now such a frequent Starbucks attendee is because, in Korea, it is one of the only places that offers soy milk. I am sure there are many more places in Seoul or perhaps Busan that do, but down in our neck of the woods, there is no such demand for it, or at least none that I’ve yet discovered!
I never noticed this was a giant coffee cup!
THURSDAY was Stanley day. This mean another market and, finally, after many, many years, a trip to the Pickled Pelican. It also included an ice cream from Gino’s on Stanley Plaza: ginger, lime and lychee sorbet. Alas, I have no picture, I wolfed it down in record time!
Hong Kong bamboo scaffolding – I love it!
We finally made it!
LATER we hit up Ladies Market (the third, and last of the trip) and I replaced the suitcase that got died on the trip over. Ladies Market has all the sparkle! On the subject of markets, It was subtle, and perhaps not immediately noticeable, but I noticed a higher mainland China presence in the tourist-tat on offer, things that weren’t there before! It was an interesting thing to observe.
WE were hungry after are meandering around the markets and our traveling from the south side of the island to TST, with only egg waffles to sustain us. We settled upon Fairwoods – Hong Kong’s version of fast food. Since I left, they’ve upped their game! Last time I’d visited a Fairwoods, you took your receipt up to where they made the food and waited for them to call your number. Now, they give you a buzzer which activates when you place it on the designated spot on the table, and they being you your food! Jasmine and I were suitably surprised! Fairwoods is going up in the world! (And the food is still nomalicious, as ever!)
WE took a quick trip to the harbour to watch the light show, still somewhat over-rated, but Megan had never seen it, as a Hong Kong newbie, and you’ve got to do it at least once! A Star Ferry ride over the harbour finished our night, and we all headed home!
Friday 24th February 2017
AFTER a really slow morning, I didn’t get my coffee fix before I met up with Megan and headed to Central. We took the mid-levels escalator and headed for Hollywood Road and Man Mo Temple. There was, of course, the obligatory picture of the signs on the way up, and I snapped a couple of the old Police Station to send my Dad – it’s had quite the face-lift! Man Mo Temple has always been my favourite!
JASMINE, booked in for laser eye surgery that afternoon, met us in Wan Chai for Coffee Academics and molten cheese tarts. To my delight, Coffee Academics had Eggs Benedict, and offered almond milk as a choice for your coffee! Happy Days!
BEFORE sampling the Molten Cheese Tarts I had heard so much about, we ran an errand in Wan Chai Computer Centre – still as much of a maze as ever, but always the best place for all your technological computing needs! I still remember the day my laptop suffered the blue screen of death and not only did they fix it, they backed up all my files AT NO EXTRA COST! Back in the day that set you back at least £80 in the UK!
MISSION completed, we got our hands on those cheese tarts. I could feel my arteries hating my as I demolished on, but boy-oh-boy was it delicious! All sorts of glad that I didn’t discover these whilst I was living there.
THE afternoon was a quiet one. Jasmine went off for her surgery, Megan hit up the History Museum, and I headed off to chill out and run a few errands of my own. The day culminated in meeting Megan in my old patch for Thai. I lived round the corner from this place and it was so much better than I remembered it. It’s tough to find decent, authentic Thai food in my neck of the woods in Korea, and I was keen to have a proper, creamy, fragrant Red Curry, instead of the far too spicy versions on offer here (still delicious, but not always what I’m in the mood for!) I was not disappointed! And that Iced Tea hit the spot!
Saturday 25th February 2017
MY last full day back in Hong Kong was packed, not that I can call Sunday a day – I was getting the first bus to the airport! It began back in the Pacific Coffee in Causeway bay as I waited for Megan. We then headed over to Diamond Hill MTR station to go and check out the Nan Lian Gardens and adjoining Chi Lin Nunnery. Another of my favourite places and one that, to me, embodies Hong Kong. This beautiful, serene garden, with a beautiful, bold, gold and red pagoda in the centre is surrounded by towering apartment blocks. And I love it!
FROM there, we hopped down the MTR line one stop and walked around the Temple and the Wong Tai Sin stop. It’s one of the busiest and brightest temples I’ve ever been too, particularly busy during this visit as it wasn’t long after Chinese New Year.
WE grabbed some food, both in need of a sit down, and then headed to Central. We decided to make our way up The Peak via Hong Kong Park and it’s aviary. To my delight, the fountain was running, and there were the obligatory in-the-fountain photos taken!
MUCH like the Nan Lian Gardens, Hong Kong Park is a piece of serenity dumped in between sky scrapers – and then you have the Lippo Centre towers, which just look super-imposed in any picture you take of them (more so on a sunnier day!)
THE aviary is always fun. It was nearly closing time when we wandered through, so there weren’t as many birds about as usual, but it was fun nonetheless.
IT was about 4pm when we exited the park near the Peak Tram terminal, and in all my time in Hong Kong, I had never seen it that busy (being at work till 7pm probably had something to do with that!) As a result, we took the number 1 light bus up the peak! Quick, cheap and pretty fun, it got us up there in about 25 minutes or so. We wandered around, took some photos, had a coffee as we waited for it too get dark, and then took a few more photos before heading back down in the number 1 bus and headed for Central MTR station to meet Jasmine, who’s surgery the day before had been a success and not as debilitating as anticipated – meaning that on my last night in Hong Kong we could achieve what we’d come to Hong Kong to do – drink Blue Girl!
MEETING up with Jasmine, we hopped on a tram and spent an hour heading to the east of the Island to Shau Kei Wan, Jasmine and I pointing out places we had known or lived along the way. It really is the best way to see the Island. Jasmine was taking us to Shau Kei Wan for waffles and egg waffles, blue girl and Hong Kong dessert. The waffles, both kinds, dissapeared in a giffy, and were really not good for you! A filling of butter, condensed milk, peanut butter and sugar – so bad it’s the best thing ever – and the egg waffles were so perfectly cooked. After a beer and mango sago (I had missed this more than I had realised) the day was over and it was time to prep for my journey home.
Sunday 26th February 2017
After barely two hours sleep (such a considerate dorm room mate…) we were back where we started this post, on an airport bus!
THIS has been a long-ass post, but it was an amazing trip. Hong Kong is my second home, the city that made me, if you will, and the Hong Kong homesickness is never far away. I just hope I don’t leave it another 2.5 years before my next visit.