The last time I was in the city was back in 1993…pre-1997 turn-over era. THAT LONG. I do realize now how much more interesting this city is…Of tall buildings and narrow alleys. Sophisticated and the traditional, pockets of open spaces and cramped structures, the hustle and bustle, the haggling and the multi-faceted cuisine…
We were here towards the end of January so the weather was pleasantly cool, with occasional rains. I did bring a trench coat and a leather jacket but failed to bring a rain coat
as was trying to pack light although I did bring a head wrap with me and bought a cheap umbrella in Mongkok to ward off the rain 😉
After getting business done at the police station after my passport blunder , we decided to check out Western Market in Sheung Wan, the oldest surviving market building in Hong Kong Island was originally built in 1844. The facade of the Victorian era building clad in bricks was particularly interesting with several shops and cafes inside.
We proceeded to walk towards Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, exploring narrow alleyways, snapping away on our cameras and mobile phones for that Instagram-worthy pic 😉
After that, we boarded the tram towards Statue Square which sits across Sir Norman Foster’s iconic HSBC Building which was completed in 1985, which was at the time, the most expensive building in the world costing a cool HK$5.2 billion or about US$670.
This amazing piece of “techitecture” features a bottom-glassed atrium accessed via escalators from the ground floor open plaza, roof-level sun scoops that provided natural lighting inside the building, floor-mounted utilities, etc. Although not the tallest, this has got to be my favorite among all the buildings in the city 🙂
Nearby is the controversial Bank of China Building by I.M. Pei, which according to its critics ignored feng shui beliefs, featuring its iconic two-knife edged architecture, tapering as it went higher towards the sky.
We spent a good amount of time here just admiring the buildings, before making a walk towards the Peak Tram station. The lines were preeety darn long, but the upside to it is I got my friends around to kill time. We finally head up but unfortunately, fog shrouded our view of the city, so we just enjoyed the cold (brr) weather “upstairs”, grabbing a fast food dinner before making a beeline to the tram going down back to the city. It was back to Mongkok that evening where we got to rejoin with our friend Cha who caught the evening flight into the city.
The next day, the group decided to head to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and have a group photo overlooking the harbor across towards Hong Kong Island from . It was a bit smoggy, but views were still good and at least it wasn’t raining.
Too bad the Avenue of Stars was closed for renovations and the group split up as River and Gelli went their way to go to Hong Kong Disneyland while the rest of us decided to do window shopping, while I had to secure my passport photos for the travel documents I have to get. We went to Heritage 1881, which was impressive and explored some shopping malls around Harbour City.
I got to shop for some clothes, and brought an extra polo shirt, since I forgot that I was wearing a T-shirt, that the passport photo must have a collared shirt on (drat!). I was actually in line waiting for my photo taken when I remembered this, so I made a dash and found a sale in Greyhound for a polo-shirt. I decided to have this on for the rest of the day and thought it fit me well 😉
We then proceeded to check out Australian Dairy Co. which was along the Jordan area. We snagged a table after a few minutes on the line where we had their famous Egg Custard and I also had their really fantastic scrambled egg. Service was fast! fast! fast! And we were bantering each other to eat fast and stop taking photos of everything because the waiters might get pissed that we were taking our time or that the chair might have an auto-eject button…. man these waiters can be a bit intimidating!
The next morning, while River and Angelli went to Macau (I was supposed to be with them but without my passport…) I went to mass together with Cha and Ophie at St. John’s Cathedral. We then met up with Simon where they accompanied me to the United Center on Admiralty to process my travel papers. I was with them after a few hours in McDonalds NEXT. Next up was another subway ride to Causeway Bay where we checked out in IKEA and some more shops.
I had to head back to the Philippine Consulate Office to get my travel documents and we rejoined to have some tea and cakes at L’atelier de Joel Robuchon along Central.
We then took the Star Ferry heading back to Kowloon and decided to enjoy the city lights of Hongkong Island before it started to drizzle again. The group re-joined for a very late dinner at Lan Kwai Fong, originally we were supposed to go to a bar but everyone was beat so we just enjoyed dinner before calling it a night.
The next morning after a leisurely breakfast, we did some more window shopping and checkout before taking the bus to the airport.
Ticking off the blunders on this particular trip, I would say that I love coming to Hongkong on this trip. I particularly loved the weather (when Manila is always hot and humid) despite the occasional rains, and the ease of public transportation makes for a very productive day hopping from one spot to another. We loved exploring the small hole-in the wall eateries where no one understood us (or that we looked like tourists) but we simple pointed out our orders sometimes without exactly knowing what it was (or if it was good). Since me and my friends have traveled many times already, it was easy for us to adjust to each ones itinerary and schedule.
Hong Kong may be one of the most expensive cities in the world but it has a lot of places too where you can haggle like there is no tomorrow. Its the place where its common to find a Ferrari alongside a beat up truck delivering all sorts of good somewhere. And as much congested as it is, where high tech skyscrapers compete for space with comparably tall yet shabby residential apartment blocks, Hong Kong has a bit of something for everyone, and I guess that is why I loved every bit of this trip. Perhaps the next time I’m back, I might stay at Central (which I absolutely love, though more expensive for sure) and get a better view on top of Victoria Peak (sans the fog)
Just for the heck of it? In a heartbeat 🙂 What’s your favorite Hong Kong experience?