Apr 21, 2017

Hong Kong Travelogue Part 2: Unification Of The New And The Old.


During my adolescent years, I had my fair share of Hong Kong drama addiction. One good thing that came out of that was I eventually picked up Cantonese along the way (yes, mainstream media was powerful like that).

Plus, walking down the uneven brick pavements of Hong Kong brought back a strange sense of familiarity - as though I've been there and done that.

The unification of the new and the old; The traditional Chinese charm preserved alongside modern constructions; didn't seized to amazed me, even after all these years.

Traveling to new places is all about creating new experiences.

💝 DAY 3 💝
Ngong Ping Village 昂坪  | The Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha Statue) 天坛大佛Po Lin Monastery 宝莲禅寺 | Lantau Island 大屿山 | Citygate Outlets 東薈城 | Sham Shui Po 深水埗 | Mongko旺角 | Kam Wah Cafe 金華冰廳 | Ladies' Market (Tung Choi Street) 女人街 | Temple Street Night Market 廟街夜市場 | Jia Jia Dessert 佳佳甜品

9.00AM

Sunday's are typically off-days for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

While I scouted for a place to have breakfast that Sunday morning, there were crowds of foreign domestic helpers (mostly from the Philippines), all congregated along the City Hall stretch. Some were busy shoving goods into large durable plastic bags, most were just crouched at a corner, presumably waiting for the rest.

I grabbed quick breakfast at Maxim's (MX), a Hong Kong styled fast food restaurant. The meal felt very overpriced (on an average of HKD30/dish) and tasted extremely mediocre.


10.00AM

I made my way to Hong Kong Train Station after that for the next part of my agenda.

How To Go To The Big Buddha, Ngong Pong Village & Po Lin Monastery:

Estimated Traveling Time:
 2-hours.
Train: Hong Kong Station to Tung Chung Station (30-minutes, at HKD22.50/person)
Bus: New Lantau Bus 23 to Ngong Ping (45-minutes, at HKD27/person).

Turn left upon exiting the train station, walk across the road, you will reach Ngong Ping Cable Car first, before reaching the bus station. Take note of the bus number, as there're numerous buses heading to various locations.

*The Ngong Ping 360" Cable Car was not in operation while I was there*


Truth was - I was somewhat sleep deprived. Throughout my entire bus ride to Ngong Ping, I didn't pay much attention to my surroundings but instead, slept my entire way through.

Before I knew it, I stepped out of the bus and onto the soils of Lantau Island 大屿山.


The 3 core attractions at Lantau Island 大屿山 would be The Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha Statue) 天坛大佛Po Lin Monastery 宝莲禅寺, and Ngong Ping Village 昂坪.

I dropped by The Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha Statue) 天坛大佛 first.

The holy steps that led to The Big Buddha was 34 metres tall, spanning 268 steps in distance. My climb to the top didn't take long, though I have to admire the courage and determination of the older folks who soared their way up. The view from the top was - exhilarating.


After spending some time at the peak, taking in the breaths of fresh air, I descended to Po Lin Monastery 宝莲禅寺, also dubbed as the the Buddhist World In The South.





There was really nothing that interest me in Ngong Ping Village 昂坪. Just a handful cultural shops and restaurants.


Right outside the village, I dropped by Shan Sui Tau Fu Fa 山水豆腐花 (Mountain Tau Fu Fa) for what some say served one of the best Tau Fu Fa in Hong Kong.



Served heartily warm, the bowl of Tau Fu Fa (HKD14/bowl) was the smoothest I've ever had. It had one of the best representation of the popular saying - melt in the mouth textures, in a pool of light sugar syrup. 

It was definitely one of the better tau fu fas' I've had, though maybe not the best.


On top of the Tau Fu Fa, I also had Black Sesame Soup (HKD15), Cheong Fun (HKD20) (that was much more sweet than savory, in comparison to what I'm accustomed to) and a bowl of pipping hot Ngau Lam Mien (HKD45), which turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of this trip.


Having a warm bowl of Tau Fu Fa with my half frozen fingers, surrounded by scenic mountain views, was definitely the icing on a cake. A Tau Fu Fa experience could not get any better than this.


We left Lantau Island at about 2.30pm.

4.00PM

We briefly stopped over at Citygate Outlets 東薈城, the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong, for coffee. Tung Chung Station was located just next to the mall.

5.00PM

The next part of the agenda was to visit Sham Shui Po 深水埗, for some fabric shopping. My friend makes her own clothing, hence was really into all-things-colorful. Unfortunately, being a Sunday, most shops were closed apart from a few odd ones. My friend managed to snagged some stock to bring home nevertheless.



6.30PM

It was already closed to nightfall when I got to Mongko旺角. The brisk walk from Sham Sui Poh to Mongkok was a short 15-minutes.

As there were no specific dinner venue in planned, I tempted myself with an abundance of street snacks, as I manouvred pass the bustling streets of Mongkok. One of the places which I stopped at was Kam Wah Cafe 金華冰廳, known to have the Best Polo Bun (Polo Bao) (HKD6) in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong street eats gotta be one of the best around, at least it was for me. 

Although the street food vendor's service was disinterested though it was brisk, food was overall tasty nevertheless. Of all the Hong Kong Street Food I sampled, my favorite would have to be the Fish Ball and Siew Mai in Curry Sauce combo (HKD10/12 pieces), which was definite value for money.



When would Malaysia implement the automated ordering system at Mcdonalds?

I also strolled through the famous Ladies' Market (Tung Choi Street) 女人街, a long stretch of stalls selling mainly imitation goods.

Mongkok was really happening. There were street performers; there were music playing on loud speakers; there were people haggling loudly; there were plenty of colorful signages that shone from above; there were literally things to see - everywhere. I loved it.



8.00PM

Just a stone's throw away, at Jordan, was Temple Street Night Market 廟街夜市場, also touted as the biggest night market in Hong Kong.

For me, there were clearly more things to see and eat in Mongkok. Apart from a handful of restaurants here, there were really nothing much that interest me. I'd say - spend more time at Mongkok and give this place a pass.


9.00PM

Jia Jia Dessert 佳佳甜品 was rated as one of the best traditional Hong Kong Dessert House in Hong Kong. The place had a queue and was packed when I visited, although as usual, it didn't take long for me to be seated. Sharing tables were a norm.

I ate quickly, relishing on a steaming bowls of Black Sesame Soup (HKD19) and Ginger Tong Yuen Soup (HKD19). It was just alright for me.


11.30PM

I took the train back to Central after that, showered and rested for a bit, before heading out to LKF, for a few drinks. It felt like the same crowd as the night before, except that being a Saturday night, the crowd was even bigger. 

I spend the rest of my night at IQ Bar and spend most of the night speaking to the ambassador of the bar, who shared with me plenty of insights on the LKF culture - while sipping on a glass of Ardberg 10 Years (HKD130) and a large pint of Asahi (HKD78) of course. 

To be very honest, I secretly find joy in being entertained by drunk people. Shh.....

Tip: Alcohol are exceedingly expensive in Hong Kong. Hence, what most travellers typically do, was to buy a bottle of beer from the nearby 7-11 and hung around LKF, without entering any bar.

On clubs. There're about 3 popular clubs within the vincinity of LKF, in which I walked pass every night but didn't get around to entering nevertheless. Cover charges for guys were HKD120 and free of charge for girls - extremely sexist like that, though there's usually a queue to get in.

💝 DAY 4 💝
Australian Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司 | Kowloon 九龍 | Tsim Sha Tsu尖沙咀 | Hong Kong Star Ferry 天星小輪 | Crystal Jade La Mien Xiao Long Bao 翡翠拉麵小籠包

10.00AM

A trip to Hong Kong would not be complete without experiencing the rush of dining at a Hong Kong styled Cha Chaan Teng. I had breakfast at Australian Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司, which came highly recommended by many of my close friends.

Tip: Pardon the rush. Order the Egg & Meat Sandwich, Stocking Milk Tea and the Milk or Egg Custard Pudding - those were my favorites. The breakfast came up to HKD99.


11.00AM

With a couple of hours to spare after breakfast, I ventured into the heart of Kowloon 九龍, wanting to see more of this part of Hong Kong.

While I stood outside of McDonalds enjoying my then pipping hot cuppa, a homeless woman came up to me and asked me for money, in which I told her I had none. She then silently walked away. Being my usual wary self and from where I stood, I noticed a handful of other older homeless folks roaming about. At many instances, I avoided eye contact with handful of them, attempting my hardest not to be rude or ignorant as such. Although none seemed to be a nuisance, it was definitely not a comfortable situation to be in. Is this an apparent norm in the Jordan and Kowloon area?


11.30AM

Tsim Sha Tsu尖沙咀 had a lot of popular tourist attractions, but I was not feeling the Hong Kong vibes and the old school charm that I saw a lot of in the past couple of days. Perhaps the place was not as crowded as the other parts of Hong Kong, hence I didn't felt the rush, or maybe it was just the attractions that didn't exactly enthralled me.

Nevertheless, The Garden of Stars would probably be one of the more popular attractions in the area, but for me, I'd very much prefer the scenic views of the Tsim Sha Tsui pier.

On that note, rewinding back to the earlier parts of my trip, instead of heading to The Peak for a glimpse of the Hong Kong nightview, I'd highly recommend dropping by the Tsim Sha Tsui pier instead, bypassing all the unecessary havoc and time.

Here's a map of the main attractions at Tsim Sha Tsui and the Starry Gallery....


..... And my journey along the way.

Hong Kong Space Museum.
Garden Of Stars.

The view from Tsim Sha Tsui Pier.
The Peninsula, Hong Kong.
Shanghai Tang, Hong Kong.
Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower.

1.30PM

Experiencing a ferry ride was not part of the initial agenda, but definitely a great end to the trip. I boarded the Hong Kong Star Ferry 天星小輪, at a little pass 1.30pm, crossing over from Peninsula Hong Kong to Hong Kong Island, moving towards my journey home.

The Star Ferry ride from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central was HKD2.50/single journey, and departs every 10-minutes.


While I stared out of the open-aired ferry, quietly enjoying the light breeze that ensued, I turned back and had a glimpse at the other side of the island, diminishing in size as the ferry went farther. I thought - when will I be back?

Although the 15-minute ride across the harbor was brief, I felt a strange sense of nostalgia. It was, after all, the last leg of my Hong Kong experience.


3.00PM

The airport rush was like any other. I arrived at HKIA much earlier than planned.

Read Part 1 of my Hong Kong Travelogue on the fastest route from Central to Hong Kong International Airport and vice versa.

4.00PM

My friend said, Crystal Jade La Mien Xiao Long Bao 翡翠拉麵小籠包 serves one of the best Dan Dan La Mien that she has ever had.

I had a serving of their signature Szechuan Dan Dan La Mien (HKD58) (which was pretty darn good), Steamed Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (HKD38) and Crispy Beancurd Sheet Wrapped In Mushroom (HKD58). The meal didn't come cheap but was definitely fulfilling overall.


8.30PM

My 4-hour flight home via Air Asia was delayed for about 2-hours, which also meant that I would be arriving really late, at a little pass midnight.

One thing I realized about delayed flights - it's usually capped at just slightly below 2-hours (the airline have no obligation to compensate for travel insurance and claims), and to manage expectations, they'd usually delay the boarding time first, then delay the take-off time.

Despite the delayed countdown, my short Hong Kong adventure was fantastic overall.

Hopefully when I read this write up again in years to come, I'd have the urge to revisit Hong Kong, relive the excitement and to create more new experiences.

Read Part 1 of my Hong Kong Travelogue Here
Read Part 2 of my Hong Kong Travelogue Here

Here are some background information of this Hong Kong trip.


Traveling Dates: 
24 March 2017 - 27 March 2017. Weather was cold.

On Air Tickets
I flew via Air Asia and booked my air tickets 3 weeks prior to departure, at RM473. Since the new implementation of Air Asia's 7kg luggage policy (hand-carry & handbag), I purchased an additional 20kg of luggage allowance (that's the minimum for international flights), for RM67 each way. There were no ongoing promotion at that point in time.

On Accommodation
I stayed at Mini Hotel Central for 3 nights, at RM300/night, purchased through CTrip, a China-based website. The 3-Star hotel was centrally located and reasonably cheap for the bustling SOHO area, if not the cheapest I can find within the Hong Kong Central vicinity.

On WiFi Devices
I booked my WiFi device through Travel Recommends, which gave me unlimited WiFi for an affordable RM19/day. I picked up the device before my departure, from it's designated counter at KLIA2. Google Walk is the way to go.

On Agenda: 
I planned my agenda based on neighborhoods, covering Hong Kong Island then the Peninsula, on separate days, crossing over via MTR and Ferry.
 
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